“It’s about using a visual narrative that makes the reader think ‘that’s an impressive story’ rather than ‘that’s an impressive design’. ”
This week I gave an interview to Inside.app Magazine, where I talk about news design and my work at Axel Springer.
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.”
Last year I had the honor to redesign the biggest car Magazine in Europe, Auto Bild.
It was the biggest change that the magazine ever had. Typography, tables, graphics, photo language, grid, everything was rethought to make the magazine more attractive and easier to the reader.
Some weeks ago, Horizont (a specialised media magazine), evaluated the best redesigns done in Germany. Auto Bild is in the TOP 3 (with a note of 2,36 – 3 is the best) in front of traditional magazines such as Stern and Focus. I am really proud of this result, and of the amazing job done together with the Auto Bild team.For the redesign I developed 4 “project books”: StyleBook (where is all the project: with templates and libraries; despite of the style standards of typography, color and elements), Architecture Book (where all the structure of the magazine is defined: grid, distances, lines etc) and a HandBook (that explains how content and design should work together).
Bellow are some pages of the “number zero” and some very few pages of the Style Book.
Check here the “before x after” of the redesign.
Some pages of Auto Bild redesigned
Some few pages of the Style Book
Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Tim Cook, the CEO of the company that changed the way we make calls, watch TV, listen to music, and also of course, the way we read news.
I met Tim last week, using already his Apple Watch. He described how Apple think about people’s daily life and how they try to make simple activities from our day easier and better. For me, this way of seeing a product, is the big difference between Apple and the industry.
Listening to that, reminded me the fundamentals that we all should follow in every project we do as a designer or as a Visual Journalist. Thinking about our readers and its experience with our Stories, Graphics…etc is the basics before developing any project or telling any story. In fact, visual storytelling exist exclusively to tell a story in an easier way, exploring all the visual devices the reader can access.
Today, in California, Tim introduced more details about the Apple Watch.
As a visual storyteller, will be a great challenge to explore all the new possibilities the Apple Watch will give us to tell stories and to interact with readers.
photos by Niels Starnick