It comes as no surprise to me that visual-first journalism is at the core of The New York Times' new digital strategy.
'Journalism That Stands Apart' is the publisher's latest report that focuses on the innovation and design-led newsroom strategies it will be undertaking in an effort to double its digital revenue by 2020, to $800 million.
Visual Storytelling and Design Thinking are a powerful combination to address. I have spent my entire journalism career exploring this frontier. Both as an editor and a professor.
“We need to expand the number of visual experts who work at The Times and also expand the number who are in leadership roles,” the report’s authors write; photographers, videographers, and graphics editors will “[play] the primary role covering some stories.” In their memo, Baquet and Kahn write, “We will train many, many more reporters and backfielders to think visually and incorporate visual elements into their stories.” There will be more creative directors and senior editors who are visual experts. And “roughly a dozen new visual-first journalists will be in place by the end of 2017.”
"Creating a more visual daily report is an enormous opportunity."
Some may have had stints managing graphics or video departments, but not many chiefs have the personal background and experience, for example, to know how to find, capture, kill, edit, and share a visually-led story using just a smartphone.
Every freshman journalist should be able to do this and every sophomore be able to produce all 10.
- There needs to be a comprehensive approach to growing visual literacy for every employee in the organization.
- Design-thinking methods need to be used by journalists working in cross-functional teams to drive daily innovation.
|The top manager of a mid-sized publisher in Europe listens to pitches at the end of a design-thinking workshop in his newsroom.|
|Each team has one journalist, one technologist, one designer and one sales expert. Each team has three minutes to make their case.|
They must make a visually-led report.
|The manager gives critical feedback to the team, advances the best ideas, and immediately tasks the team to refine their ideas further so that they can be built, launched, measured and iterated on.|
This is strategic problem solving that yields a business result. It is a process and a habit that you can use every day.
A bold effort like this will soon let everyone in the house to begin to speak the same language. (And to be able to name at least a few of the '10 types.')
This emphasis between text and visual reporting skills needs to be flipped. Immediately.
One you first learn how to report in pictures, you then learn how to write 'to' pictures. That is the the key concept.
I have been teaching mobile reporting (MOJO) at FH Wien Journalism School in Austria for the past three years. Last year, the dean invited me to help his team put MOJO in the center of their curriculum. A process that may not start until later this year, for a semester that begins in 2018. Possibly. That pace of change is way too slow for a medium and marketplace that is moving much faster.
- Are you prepared to be a visual first journalist?
- Do you know how to build and nurture a design-led newsroom?