Journalists have traditionally viewed their work as creating content. The progression of this content – from when the reporter types the last sentence to when the story is ready for use – is typically a process involving other members of an editorial team: editors, art directors. and designers, and others responsible for production.
As I prepare for the Spring 2022 curriculum for my Cross-Platform Design and Storytelling course at Columbia University, I am keenly aware that the students I train and mentor to become journalists must master how content and formats are required. story combine.
The link between journalism and technology has never been more essential and stronger. We can no longer separate how stories circulate, how they are updated, and how they are promoted in social media and newsletters from the technology that allows a constant flow of information.
This does not mean that journalists have to become coders. But a journalist today needs to understand the technical processes that allow us to keep information up to date and tell stories in a more engaging, mobile-friendly way. Readers who consume news and features on mobile devices appreciate stories that are told seamlessly, with narrative and visual elements coming together in a natural flow. To do this effectively, journalists must conceptualize the stories through honest discussion that takes the format at heart. The idea has to be to start thinking about how the story would be consumed in small formats (like phone screens) and then adapt it to larger formats (like print materials).
How a story is packaged today is directly related to the platform on which it will be consumed. It is up to the individual journalist to recognize what each platform can do best and harness those qualities in the way the story is written and conceived. For mobile stories, appeal to the senses beyond static photos to incorporate audio and video components.
We are already seeing the relevance, format and presentation of content become key drivers for effective visual storytelling. In 2022, the focus on how content and format come together should be at the center of strategic discussions in every newsroom.