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Saulo Santana
Berlin & Potsdam, Germany

Reporter or Artist?


Last week, during my flight to Rio de Janeiro, I read the book “Reporter or Artist?” wrote in 1992 by Ole Munk (a great graphic designer, consultant, and lecturer, based in Denmark, who gave me personally this great gift).

What impressed me is that many of the points showed in the book are still actual, even when we discuss about journalism and the “digital era”.

It presents results of a questionnaire that Ole sent out to 28 newspapers in order to get an overview of conditions for informational graphics in that time.

I asked Ole about the process of the survey, and he writes:

“The idea came from my work as a graphic journalist at Politiken where I had been facing most of the problems which I address in my book and tried to figure out how to solve them. Meeting graphic artists from other papers at international conferences and workshops, as well as during a short internship at The Economist in London, gave me the impression that my situation was not unique”

The book discusses important issues, that make us understand much of the process that we are facing when so many changes are challenging newsrooms today. Things such as “graphics are journalism and not pieces of art” reminds me not only what I repeat so often in all workshops and seminars I give, but also what I have been fighting for, when it also comes to the digital world and people insist to focus on the tool and not in the content.

“Report or Artist?” is a guide to understand some challenges the industry passed some time ago, and a tool to help us to learn to constantly transform ourselves to face the challenges we have now.

As Bettina Drew wrote once:  “The past reminds us of timeless human truths and allows for the perpetuation of cultural traditions that can be nourishing; it contains examples of mistakes to avoid, preserves the memory of alternatives ways of doing things, and is the basis for self-understanding…”