Last week I was in San Francisco, for the annual workshop of the Society for News Design.
Nice talks. Many developers. Interesting projects. But, during the conference, I asked myself many times: are we loosing the way that journalism should follow?
As a visual journalist, I always say that the new digital era should serve journalism and not the other way around.I am afraid of data visualisations that don’t answer me anymore the basic questions that I have. I am afraid of websites with amazing tools, but that disturb me to understand a simple journalistic information. Afraid of mobile apps that make strange sounds and are cold, almost freezing, and don’t bring me anything. This is definitely not the future of journalism.
Once I learned that an infographic or any newspaper page works, when it answers our basic questions. All the rest is something else, but not journalism.
Once again we can take a look at what the judges of the Society of News Design competition have considered to be the best designed newspapers in the world.This time was very special for me; we had 15 pages awarded with 2 Awards of Excellence, but all of them breaking news, done on the limit of the deadline, when you have less than 8 hours to understand, investigate and tell the story in the best way possible. Here visual journalism has an important role, working with the basics of its essence.
The facts were strong by themselves. These were news we would like to never have printed.
As a visual journalist, the challenge was to give the correct impactful visual treatment for both stories. The audience gets visual clues about the importance and consequence of a story via visuals, not to mention the generation of the right emotional reaction that the story should bring, through the right use of visual storytelling.
As I always say, its harder to get such an award with a popular newspaper, that has a completely different language from what the ‘Society for News Design’ expect. But for me, the challenge is also to proof that is possible to bring quality in “visual storytelling” in a popular publication.
In the last 4 years we got 14 awards and a Silver Medal in the SND with Bild am Sonntag - something that has never happened before in the newspaper.
Bellow are the pages that got Awards of Excellence. A big thanks for all the team involved!
Category Breaking News, National
Category Breaking News, Terrorism
The UK’s first new national newspaper for 30 years launches next week (29 February).
After the well designed Independent announces that will end its printed edition and go online only, this is an exciting news.
Editor Alison Phillips said “readers only have 30 minutes” and the paper would provide “what they need to know”.
I like what she says. This doesn’t mean ignoring online (as the new publication won’t have any online version), but making a newspaper which reflects and understands that.
I wish long life to ‘NewDay’! I will be watching with great expectation.
I just ready a survey by the World Economic Forum (done with 5,000 digital media users in the US, Germany, South Africa, Brazil and China): Millennials will pay for top notch digital entertainment, like Netflix and Spotify, but won’t do it so easy for things like news. (millennials are defined as people aged between 15 and 34)“News publishers will be disappointed: Just under a quarter of plugged-in millennials say they would open their wallets to get over a paywall to read the news. Even more worryingly, journalists were deemed the group with the least influence over respondents’ digital media habits. Respondents considered brands and search-engines bigger factors on their media consumptions”
But at the same time the study brings out:“Good news for makers of all sorts of digital content: Millennials are willing to pay for it—but only the good stuff.”
This shows me only one thing: there is only space for content produced with quality, in all ways: content and visual storytelling.. I believe that even the most economical millennial will pay something he feels essential.
Read here the study article: http://goo.gl/N1Zv7P
It is a thoughtful, reflective process that helps me understand the amazing transformations of our industry over decades, not to mention my own. It’s amazing for me to be back in a newsroom in Brazil, where I was born.
I was invited to give a talk at Extra newspaper, from Rio de Janeiro, one of the main popular newspapers in Brazil. It’s amazing the powerful transformation that this talented team of news designers like Sandro Mesquita, Ivan Luiz, Felipe Nadaes, Toni Azevedo and other talented visual journalists are doing in this publication.
Everybody knows how I love those newspapers, and even more the combination of visual journalism with their popular language.
It was great to spent time with the team from Extra, sharing my thoughts about infographics and the power of visual storytelling on information, that simultaneously informs, inspires, entertains and encourages critical thought.
Many people ask me about my experience working in a tabloid newspaper and bringing visual storytelling to it.
I was interviewed by the SNDs Magazine, published in the Scandinavia countries, where I talk about it and about the power of telling stories visually.The magazine and the complete 6 pages interview are also avaiable as a digital magazine here: http://issuu.com/snds_magazine/docs/sndsmag_4_2015_web?e=1398717/31643322
For other issues of the magzine, check it here: http://snds.org/category/magazine/
Here some highlights of the interview:
“What was your process in order to introduce this in a Tabloid / Yellow press style?
For me, there is no tabloid-style or Yellow Press style. Yet, there is such a thing as tabloid-language, and it doesn’t have to be ugly, as many people say. I think popular newspapers have a special ability, more than any other publication, to surprise. Popular newspapers don’t need to be ugly to work.
Visual storytelling brings emotion and encourages action. Bad designed stories are like a potentially good movie, but have no soundtrack.
After the first months in the newsroom, nobody could convince me that all the poorly executed visuals which I found in some stories, were really what the readers wanted. I was sure that it was possible to unleash that power visually. Believe me when I say that, it’s possible to bring visual storytelling into the language of a tabloid. And the results can be impressive as well.”
“I’ve visited different tabloid newsrooms in Europe and many people have mentioned your work as a reference for raising the bar with storytelling for tabloids. But we know there is still a crisis when it came to number of sales, did this improve?
I’m not allowed to disclose profit numbers. But, after these 2 years, I can say it’s much better than the company expected. They are very good. (Smiles). I don’t think design is the only thing that can save a publication, although it can possibly kill one! I believe in the power of telling stories visually. For me, attracting readers at first glance, is key.”
“If you compare your experience to all those traditional newspapers where you have worked before, is there any special formula for bringing “visual storytelling” to a tabloid?
I’m not sure there’s any recipe written on stone for that matter, but I could say that understanding the language of the publication should be the first step. You need to know and understand your readers. And for me, what best defines “visual storytelling” is the combination between visual narrative and emotional reaction. If you achieve both, you can be sure that you’ve reached your readers.
Change is always hard. To change the culture of your team is even harder. If I could give any tip for a person who is trying to do it; “stop criticizing the past”. You have to get your hands dirty, inspiring your team with what you say by doing.”
Even in this digital age, visual storytelling remains an incredibly strong and powerful way to tell stories, bring emotion and seduce readers; what is more than never the key of success in the print media nowadays.
Print can not compete with the frequency of digital, but like I always say, can convince and surprise with the luxury of paper through the power of telling stories visually.
I am happy to prove that is possible to bring visual journalism to a tabloid newspaper. Bellow the result of some pages we published in the last 3 weeks, with an amazing team work.
(together with Rafal Piekarski and Marco Bratsch)
I collected the last 5 projects I did for mobile and tried to find out what were the common strategic points that I used in all of them during their development. It was an interesting exercise for me to go through all that project folders. The result surprised me. I found out that I had a small guide in front of me, that I collected through the experience that each project gave me.
The way I looked for answers to the question “how can we tell better stories on mobile devices?” made me establish strategies that I could resume in 5 important basic points. Those are definitely my mini strategy-bible for mobile.Describe a clear strategy of the evolution of a story since it breaks. Short narratives. Bullets. Visual Storytelling. All based on a “small screen experience”. Establish a clear workflow between news designers and editors, in order to work not only with the fixed templates you have developed, but to be able to create a different visual approach to a special story. Create a clear “content X visual” strategy that lures readers beyond links on social media. Find the element of frequency and timing. Get to know your reader in order to find out important basic answers. This will drive you to understand things like the best time of day to come out with a story on a mobile device: are newsier items better suited for early in the day as opposed to lifestyle stories? Or the other way around?
Those points guided me in 100% of the projects I developed and helped me to fight against the common habits of some newsrooms to think only on desktop and web when its about digital. Mobile is a completely different environment. We need experimentation and innovation around that small view size.
I am really honored to win 9 award at the European Newspaper Award with Bild am Sonntag, and to proove that there is not only space for visual journalism in a popular newspaper, but this combination can bring amazing results.
As I always say, visual journalism is more than choosing typography or the color of a box. It’s the use of visuals as content to tell stories. Visual storytelling encourage action and has the unic power to combine emotion and narrative information.
Here are the awarded pages and the categories:
News Pages (Refugees)
News Pages (News Pages in General)
News Pages (Refugees)
(together with Marco Bratsch)
I am honored to get 3 awards with my 3 latest works at the Lead Awards in Germany. It has been a great experience at Bild am Sonntag. The challenges are still in the beginning, but the results are already amazing.