Saturday, March 10, 2012

Visual Journalism - Data For The Masses

Source: Jer Thorp, blprnt
Journalism, as a form of news reporting and information intake, is barely recognizable compared to 20 years ago. Through microblogging, smartphones, tweeting, and cable TV, journalism has metamorphosed about as radically as any other form of communication. Media outlets have become personal, immediate, and varied. Public interest consequently has grown, in pursuing the 2012 election or in watching the viral Kony 2012 video. Most contemporary news sources now fall into the emerging category of "visual journalism."

Visual journalism is more than photography, more than examining fonts for a masthead. A stuffy definition of "news design" refers to page layouts and captions. In reality, it encompasses graphic displays, interactive media, and data representations to present information in illuminating ways. There is even a Society for News Design, with the mission "to enhance communication around the world through excellence in visual journalism."

Source: Society for News Design
The popularity of visual news sources, such as Newsmap and Doodlebuzz, and the success of graphic readers, such as Flipboard and Pinterest, all point to the importance of visual journalism in our media literacy curriculum. Even the scrolling nature of Twitter feeds and the never-ended redesign of Facebook's layout reinforce the power of visual appeal. Our students use all of these news sources, and it's important to help them make sense of their sensory inputs. Image-based news sources also appeal to kids' visual learning styles and their quick-hitting, multi-tasking habits.

In a November TEDxVancouver talk, artist and educator Jer Thorp offers compelling reasons for telling news stories with data. Currently the Data Artist in Residence at The New York Times, Thorp has been responsible for fascinating illustrations and software codes for a host of leading publications. We've written before about the excellence of New York Times infographics. Visual.ly recently posted this TED talk with a great summary of Thorp's work. In "The Weight of Data," Thorp stresses the need for putting "data in a human context" and building "empathy" through news visualizations:



O'Reilly Radar recently presented an interesting series on the "Profile of the Data Journalist." The feature about "The Visualizer" describes the multi-layered job of a data-driven reporter. The Society for News Design also offers a loaded page of "Tools for News" to help aspiring visual journalists. Another resource for students and professionals is the "Visual Editors" ning, describing itself as "the classroom for visual journalism." Some universities, too, are also beginning to offer courses in news design to students of new media.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Pin It