Let’s amplify visual voice

“Across the industry, we employ product designers, but the need for editorial designers and art directors with minds for digital is equal. Organizations publish hundreds of stories a day. We need a lot of designers if we are going to make an impact.”

We won’t give editorial design the focus it deserves in 2018, but we need to do better than 2017.

Legacy news organizations put an emphasis on editorial and graphic design for decades inside the pages of their print newspapers. Beautiful, full-page illustrations, well thought-out typography, carefully chosen and placed images. And all of this to keep someone reading and delighted inside a product people had already purchased or likely subscribed to. We encounter these visual opportunities daily in the digital space. We have a chance to use these same design choices in a 2:1 share image to draw someone in on places like Facebook and Twitter. Instead, we’ve decided that a default image and crop will work.

From the very beginning of The Lily, my team and I made the choice to never publish a story without an original piece of art to accompany it, tailored to the platform it’s publishing on. We were tired of seeing overused stock images. Tired of the same wire photo used on story after story. Tired of a lack of visual identity. Everyone is posting a story weighing Al Franken’s punishment? We’ll create our own art. We’ll make sure it’s unapologetically rendered in Lily style. And then, in the endless feeds on Facebook and Twitter, we will stand apart in the crowded space and claim attention. Our images, and thereby our stories, are harder to skip.

Across the industry, we employ product designers, but the need for editorial designers and art directors with minds for digital is equal. Organizations publish hundreds of stories a day. We need a lot of designers if we are going to make an impact.

Designers should be part of the story-planning process from the beginning. This is not new. But designers (we call ourselves visual journalists), should be running some of these platforms. The best recent example of this is Instagram Stories. When a Story is created, choices involving typography, colors and alignment must be made. It’s critical that someone who understands these design principles be involved in — or in charge of — creating the Story. It will look better and more professional, ultimately resulting in higher and more meaningful engagement.

It may be true that young people finding our stories on Snapchat and Instagram respond well to informal, familiar interactions. In their search for authenticity, it is our responsibility to uphold our credibility not only with the information we are sharing but with its visual presentation.

We are getting better. News organizations are making an effort on Instagram. Enterprise stories are getting visual treatments that adapt well to Twitter and Facebook. But there are still stock images out there. Our brands should be recognizable. We can get there by refocusing on editorial design. Let 2018 be the year of visual identity.

Amy King is editor-in-chief and creative director of The Lily, a publication from The Washington Post.

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Millie Tran and Stine Bauer Dahlberg   (Hint: It’s about your brand)

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Susie Banikarim   R.I.P. Pivot to Video (2017–2017)

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Eric Ulken   The year local publishers get smart(er) about change

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Sara M. Watson   Feeds will open up to new user-determined filters

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Aron Pilhofer   We can’t leave the business to the business side any more

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Alan Soon   The rise of start of psychographic, micro-targeted media

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Jim Moroney   Newspapers have to be good enough for readers to pay for

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Women of color will reclaim and monetize our time

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Julia B. Chan   Looking for loyalty in all the right places

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Errin Haines Whack   At the ballot, it’s time to count black women

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Marcela Donini and Thiago Herdy   Collaboration is the way forward for Brazilian journalism

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Richard J. Tofel   The platforms’ power demands more reporters’ attention

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The Snapchat scenario and the risk of more closed platforms

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Helen Havlak   Keywords, not publishers, power the world’s biggest feeds

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Paul Ford   Go global

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Jake Levine   The return to now

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Jesse Holcomb   Information disorder, coming to a congressional district near you

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Burt Herman   Things get real

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Dan Shanoff   You down with OTT? (Yeah, DTC)

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Tanzina Vega   It’s time for media companies to #PassTheMic

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India