ICTVC – Transformer with a daily deadline

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A brief introduction to creating news graphics and what makes them different from other fields of information design.

Presented at the 4th ICTVC on 17 June 2010 in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Published in: Design, Art & Photos
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ICTVC – Transformer with a daily deadline

  1. 1. Transformer with a daily deadline How graphics lend grace to news Jasso Lamberg 4th ICTVC, 17 June 2010
  2. 2. Graphics lending grace to news ✦ Hard news writing style employes the inverted pyramid and Five Ws and HEADLINE one H: Must have -information. • Who? Five Ws and one H. • What? • Where? • When? Additional but not crucial information. • Why? • How? Least important information.
  3. 3. “is evening at about 9:30 p.m. at Ford's eatre, the President, while sitting in his private box with Mrs. Lincoln, Mrs. Harris and Major Rathburn, was shot by an assassin, who suddenly entered the box and approached behind the President.” – New York Herald, April 15, 1865
  4. 4. Graphics lending grace to news ✦ Hard news writing style employes the inverted pyramid and Five Ws and HEADLINE one H: Must have -information. • Who? ➟ photograph Five Ws and one H. • What? ➟ diagram / illustration • Where? ➟ map • When? ➟ timeline Additional but not crucial information. • Why? ➟ fact box • How? ➟ diagram / illustration Least important information. ✦ If the graphics can answer some of these questions, it frees the written text. e story can then take, for example, a more human-interest angle.
  5. 5. © COPYRIGHT HELSINGIN SANOMAT. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
  6. 6. © COPYRIGHT HELSINGIN SANOMAT. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
  7. 7. © COPYRIGHT HELSINGIN SANOMAT. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
  8. 8. © COPYRIGHT HELSINGIN SANOMAT. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
  9. 9. the transformer: “Skilled professional communicator who mediates between the expert and the reader.” – Michael Macdonald-Ross & Robert Waller 1976/2000
  10. 10. transformer experts public What to How to tell? tell it? team of specialists
  11. 11. writer graphic artist experts public editor photo- photo- grapher editor
  12. 12. Negotiating with the expert ✦ When negotiating directly with the expert the graphic artist must have a journalistic mindset. • You can’t trust the experts just because they are “experts”. ✦ You have to filter out important information from public relations jargon, personal agendas etc. ✦ Naturally politicians are the worst cases but scientists are not immune to partiality either. (For example, think about the evolution vs. ID debate in the USA, or “Climategate”.)
  13. 13. Negotiating with the writer ✦ Writers often lack the knowledge of how graphics are produced. Many of them tend to see it as a lower level skill as their own work. Also, their computer skills might not be very advanced. is might lead to awkward situations. • Typical problems: – Not understanding how much time making a graphic takes. – Asking graphics just to fill space. – Writers might forget their own rules for impartiality when it comes to graphics. ✦ On the other hand the collaboration can also be extremely efficient and rewarding if the chemistry works between people.
  14. 14. Time constraints ✦ Big or complex graphics ~ 3–5 days ✦ Large graphics ~ 1 day ✦ Basic maps, charts, diagrams ~ 30 min – 3 hours ✦ Different sections have different deadlines. • Usually culture & feature sections close around 6–7 pm. • First hard news pages close around 8 pm. • Last couple of hard news pages, front page, and the main sports pages close around 10 pm. ✦ So if the news occurs late in the evening, you’re in trouble. • At that point it’s not design. It’s just shovelling.
  15. 15. © COPYRIGHT HELSINGIN SANOMAT. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
  16. 16. ✦ Because of • time constraints • human resource constraints • conflicting information sources • and the pressure to create NEWS to every edition... “Never trust an infographic the first day after the event.” – Jan Schwochow
  17. 17. Complex or simple graphics? ✦ Should information graphics be complex with large data sets or simple? ✦ Complex data sets can be useful to statisticians, scientists etc. • e audience is prepared to spend time with the graphic. ✦ In a newspaper, on the other hand, the readers are not willing to spend much time with the graphic. • Varies on different sections. Feature sections might have more illustrative, more complex graphics.
  18. 18. “Data graphics should often be based on a large rather than small data matrices and have a high rather than low data density. More information is better than less information […]. e simple things belong in tables or in the text; graphics can give a sense of large and complex data sets that cannot be managed in any other way.” Edward Tufte, Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 2001 [1992]
  19. 19. “[…] the message needs to be presented in a simple way with clear explanations of any abbreviations or symbols. […] Graphs and charts that do not quickly reveal the message are best forgotten.” Peter Sullivan, Newspaper Graphics, 1987
  20. 20. 36–145 seconds per spread
  21. 21. So, sometimes this is justifiable REALLY BIG small
  22. 22. News graphics are often about doing simple graphics for simple normal people.
  23. 23. Thank you jasso.lamberg@typo.fi

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