Multimedia storytelling in journalism

(Source: Nikhita Singhal via Unsplash)

Journalism is undergoing massive changes, our insatiable taste for visuals is influencing how journalists convey their stories.

We live in a digital age, of course the way we read news has changed. Moving from print, we now find our information on desktops, mobiles and tablets. The role of design and visual storytelling is more essential than ever.

We all know we read less print. As I touched on in my previous blog Fashion in Print: Is it dead?

But, lets think about how why and how digital journalism is taking over.

With our advancement of technology, journalism has undoubtedly changed. It is unlikely we would read a 1500 word investigative report on our phones. So, this means journalists need to do more to attract tech savvy audiences, who crave interactive and creative visuals.

Right, so what exactly do I mean? Back in previous times a journalist would write the story and hand it over to a team who would work on the layout and design. The design would normally follow the format that allowed a free flow of text, with photos often appearing in a cluster at the top or bottom of the story.

Now, however designers are working closely with journalists throughout the investigative process. As a team, they can collate and create maps, pictures or videos to put in to the story.

(Source: Nik Macmilan via Unsplash)

But, if a journalist is able to do this on their own then, perfect. They have the opportunity to write a brilliant report and create fantastic visuals to match. It’s obvious really, of course a fantastic story should come in hand with a design that reflects the ins and outs of the report. Mario Garcia of Columbia University says the collaboration is a “revival of the marriage between journalism and design, ” and that “it’s a true renewal of the nuptials between writing, editing and design”.

This new epoch of the journalist/designer hybrid is informed by her or his craft as a writer as well as a designer’s philosophy to guarantee the best reader experience. — Mario Garcia

This fusion of news and creative design I would argue is one of the best things to happen to journalism in the digital age. The way we consume news is now more interactive, tailored and nuanced. Beyond reading eloquent reports and accounts we now have different layers to our stories which we previously wouldn’t have. This can include infographics and videos.

A notable example of multimedia storytelling in journalism is The New York Times story “Untangling the overlapping conflicts of the Syrian Civil War”. The creative flow chart takes the reader on a visual journey that explains how the conflict grew from a national uprising to a full blown international conflict.

(Source: The New York Times)
(Source: The New York Times)

The piece uses graphics, images and written text to help readers understand the key players in the crisis. As well as using detailed maps which show how Syria is divided up between the army, opposition rebels and ISIS.

This innovation within journalism has provided a platform for more complex and deep stories. Multimedia journalism is giving readers the opportunity to engage with stories in a different way and I am excited to see how multimedia storytelling continues to develop in the digital age.