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Saulo Santana
Berlin & Potsdam, Germany

Visual journalism: the power we have in our hands

2016 has been an incredible year. I had the opportunity to give workshops to newspapers from Latin America to Eastern Europe. I met incredible professionals, amazing newspapers, magazines at full throttle. The result of everything? I learned a lot.

During this “lecture tour”, I have been able to show and explain what I have studied and tested in practice over the last 10 years in more than 30 newspapers around the world where I collaborated: the power of visual narrative in journalism. The power of telling stories in a more captivating way, no matter to what kind of publication you work.

All this goes through two basic paths, which have become my focus of study and working tool: “cognitive psychology” and the “generation of emotion”.

While Professor Colin Ware writes that we should think of information design tools and cognitive tools that enhance and extend our brains (diagrams, maps, information graphics, visual instructions, technical illustrations), it helps us solve problems through a process of Visual thinking. Cognition is about understanding!

On the other hand, visual storytelling has the unic power to generate emotions. We can engage our reader to the story with emotions. Like a soundtrack in a movie!

And here, we touch very important area from our readers: the subconscious.

Roger Ebert once said:

 “Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions never lie to you”

According to many cognitive scientists, our first reactions to new external stimuli are determined by our conscious minds, but by the parasympathetic nervous system, which causes our bodies to produce immediate physical and chemical reactions, such as the production of tears, laughter, or adrenaline.

It’s only a few milliseconds after the most involved computer processing parts of our brain are involved, adding logic and explanation to this instinctive emotional outlet.

Sometimes we forget that, as visual journalists, we have lot of power in our hands.