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More from SEJ: Ways to increase readership through visuals

During a panel discussion called Visualizing your Stories, three award-winning environmental reporters shared their strategies for coming up with the perfect visual to help complete their story -- and make it more attractive to their readership.

The topic was introduced with a now recurring theme: readers are becoming viewers adn are going online for news. Print publications can no longer depend on circulation and revenue to survive. They have to keep their readers interested through integrated multi-media presentations. With more and more newspapers redesigning their print editions to look like websites, Dina Cappiello from The Houston Chronicle weighed in with reasons why graphics are important.

First, she says, that graphics engage readers in a different format. They let you attract visual people, not just word people. She also says that graphics in print translate well to graphics in web presentation. Finally, she says that graphics enhance the story and that they are particularly criticial for issues such as science. For online stories, Dina suggests using Flash technology as well as narration to drive a story home.

Dina's requirements for a good graphic are:
-- It will illustrate or illuminate the nut or the gist of the story.
-- It will help with very technical stories to clarify details and difficult topics.
-- Good reporting is the basis for a good graphic.

After hearing only Dina's comments, it comes to mind that organizations that are pitching reporters can put these rules into practice as they are shaping their messages. Provide solid data to reporters and think about what the full story will look like. Consider using onling mapping technology, GPS, blueprints, and exact locations to support your newshook.

Next Lisa Stiffler from the Seattle Post Intelligencer talked about when a graphic is needed to make a story stick. She says consider using a graphic for timelines, data trends over time, maps, comparative data, sequential events, report cards, explaining complicated processes, and multi-layers of data, such as showing the relation between income, race and pollution.

Lisa further reminded us that the graphic can be the one shot to convey the story to the reader -- so make it good and make sure it supports the gist of the story. If you're not sure where to start in terms of creating your own graphics, Lisa suggests looking to scientific and government publications for inspiration. Be sure to check out Dateline Earth, a blog that Lisa co-authors with fellow Seattle PI reporter Robert McClure.

Finally, Peter Essick, a photo-journalist that works frequently with National Geographic, simply state that you should tell your story in pictures.

It seems that all of these tips could be applied to how organizations write articles for our e-newletters, for content and stories for our websites, and for reports, whitepapers and scorecards. And it definitely seems that groups should keep the reporter's needs in mind when developing materials to accompany your news.

-- Bobbi Russell
October 28, 2006

October 28, 2006 in Media Training | Permalink


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» 8 kinds of visuals to enhance your story from The Publicity Hound's Blog
If you pitch environmental journalists, take a look at this post from the Green Media Toolshed about the importance of visuals with a story, and eight different types of visuals. The tips come from journalists at the Society of Environmental Journalis... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 30, 2006 5:41:07 AM



These are great tips that will help anybody who wants to self-promote.

As a former newspaper editor who works today as a publicity expert, I have these to add:

--When pitching a journalist, mention that you have a graphic, or map, or timeline or whatever to accompany the story. Magazine editors have told me that a good visual will sometimes move a story from the back of the magazine to the front, or even the cover.

--Have good-quality photos available at your website, preferably in your media room, and make sure they're scanned at 300 dots per inch for print publications.

--Have a good-quality professional had shot of yourself available, preferably in your media room.

--If you have information that would make a good graphic, such as a timeline for instance, but you haven't created the graphic, that's OK. Still let journalists know you can provide the data. Many publications, particularly larger ones, have their own art departments that create these kinds of graphics.

Posted by: Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound at Oct 29, 2006 9:12:56 AM

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