Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

“The year about to end has only been a springboard to what is to come in the area of what I refer to as linear visual storytelling. In this type of storytelling, the narrative and the visuals flow in a linear way from top to bottom, exactly the way we communicate when we text or use WhatsApp on our phones.”

I recently titled one of my presentations “2017: the year storytelling (finally) adapted to the platform.” Indeed, this past year has been one in which many major newspapers took giant steps forward to advance storytelling specifically written and designed to be consumed on mobile platforms.

However, the year about to end has only been a springboard to what is to come in the area of what I refer to as linear visual storytelling. In this type of storytelling, the narrative and the visuals flow in a linear way from top to bottom, exactly the way we communicate when we text or use WhatsApp on our phones. I show you here an image from my presentation depicting the way we do narratives in our daily lives:

But a majority of newsrooms continue to prepare stories in the traditional manner of headline, summary, and text, the way information is presented on the printed page, with any visual assets displayed separately, often as photo galleries, isolated from the flow of the text.

That is simply not how we read on our mobile devices.

So I predict that we will see a stronger movement to favor customizing stories, especially those that are rich in visual assets (photos, videos, infographics) to be presented in a linear way, then adapted for other platforms. Warning: What works for mobile storytelling is not necessarily right for print, for example. Videos will play a vital role as visual assets in linear storytelling, with a reminder to editors and designers that videos on mobile should be short and informative.

Digital transformation will continue to be a major theme in 2018, an advancement for some, a beginning for others. Smaller regional newspapers globally will aim for some type of strategy leading to digital transformation. It’s begun to happen, although not expediently enough.

This will bring about greater need for training, especially in the area of storytelling for mobile. Newsrooms need to become classrooms where training is constant, and laboratories where experimentation is part of a strategy.

We will also see greater experimentation with advertising that is suitable for mobile platforms. Publishers are aware that Google and Facebook are projected to account for about 61 percent combined of the U.S. digital ad market. The audience is there, too. The way we present news and advertising on those platforms must be customized as well.

For 2018, I see major progress in how we tell stories on that preferred platform which is our phones. Because the traffic is going to be there, so will be opportunities to monetize with creative advertising that includes sponsored content.

Finally, let’s remember that in the digital world, experimentation never stops, new product creation is always welcome, and the interest of our readers in news has never been greater. This is a good formula on which to base our plans for 2018.

Mario García is CEO of Garcia Media and senior adviser on news design and adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

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

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

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

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

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

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

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

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

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

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

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

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

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

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

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

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Paul Ford   Go global

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

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

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

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

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

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

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

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

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

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

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

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

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

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Burt Herman   Things get real

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Jake Levine   The return to now

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

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

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

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

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push