2
0
1
9

News — but make it cinematic

“If Facebook made everyone a broadcaster and Instagram democratized photography, then Instagram Stories and Snapchat are making everyone visual designers.”

Journalism is under siege, agreed. And more consumers than ever are turning to their phones to find distraction along with their headlines.

But the promise of social media isn’t the de facto undoing of news. Quite the opposite: With more ways than ever to present visuals, journalism has the opportunity to come to life in a hybrid format that borrows from documentary films, graphic design, and even social media’s visual lingo, such as gifs.

Obstacles exist, of course. Putting together a news feature that incorporates text, graphic design, original photography, video, and gifs while also designing a shortened version for social media platforms like Instagram Stories not only requires collaboration across multiple departments — it requires planning from the start. This can’t happen in breaking news scenarios. Moreover, immersive multimedia packages will become harder to produce as newsrooms become leaner and more cash-strapped.

That said, when news departments approach features with a holistic storytelling approach, real magic can happen.

Think, for example, of The New York Times’s original multimedia showcase, 2012’s “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek.” Six years later, Snow Fall remains one of the most gorgeous packages the Times has ever produced, incorporating video clips, annotations, and animated maps, as well as text and photography. The story about an ill-fated ski outing didn’t rely merely on words — it smartly made use of all the tools available to illustrate its story in ways that mere text couldn’t.

More recently, this past fall, the Times’ “The Case of Jane Doe Ponytail” used looping video as a backdrop for a story by reporters Dan Barry and Jeremy Singer about the death of a call girl in Queens. Darkly cinematic video and photos by Todd Heisler, set against a design layout that pushes photos to the edges of the screen, transports viewers directly into the lonely world of “Sisi,” who died when she fell out of a window following a police raid.

If Facebook made everyone a broadcaster and Instagram democratized photography, then Instagram Stories and Snapchat are making everyone visual designers. Insta Stories’ constant use of short video clips incorporating text, gifs, and color filters is like having a daily lesson in design. As more apps appear to make design better, and as people continue to watch Stories on a daily basis, it makes sense that consumers are becoming more literate in multimedia storytelling.

This is a real opportunity for news departments. Approaching storytelling with an outlook that aims to incorporate all of the visual tools available — from moving Flixels to looping video — doesn’t just bring narratives to life in ways not previously possible. It also gives readers compelling reasons to stay, and to share. This isn’t the same as saying “toss all the content into every outlet” or thoughtlessly rework words into an Insta Story after the fact. This is about creating a cohesive visual style suited for every platform, from desktop browser to smartphone to Insta Story. When all the parts are designed to complement one another, readers who find a news feature in one format will be compelled to follow it to other platforms, ideally creating a loop of readers who invest their time in seeing one story from multiple angles.

Given how the smartphone has revolutionized how people communicate, it’s time for newsrooms to take similar risks. It’s already starting to happen, but in the years to come, investing in news features that break down the traditional boundaries of visual communication is the most exciting storytelling opportunity for the contemporary newsroom.

Elva Ramirez is a freelance multimedia reporter and social media consultant.

Mike Rispoli and Craig Aaron   Government funds local news — and that’s a good thing

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Matt Waite   “I went to Node.js because I wished to live deliberately”

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

An Xiao Mina   The death of consensus, not the death of truth

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Heather Chaplin   Agree we’re partisan — for the democratic system

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Glyn Mottershead and Martin Chorley   When a tech company pulls the plug on your story

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Mike Isaac   The old exit doors for digital media companies are closing

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Cătălina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Claire Wardle   Forget deepfakes: Misinformation is showing up in our most personal online spaces

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Pia Frey   You can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   The most beautiful sentence in 2019 is “No.”

Jonathan Stray   More algorithmic accountability reporting, and a lot of it will be meh

Errin Haines Whack   Say it with me: Racism

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Jesse Holcomb   We’ll get better at making the case for local journalism

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Efrat Nechushtai   Journalism wants to be your friend, not your teacher

Manoush Zomorodi   Tech will do for information overload what it did for mindfulness

Hearken   Pivot to people

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau   A more sincere definition of “community”

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Rebecca Lee Sanchez   We are all actors in the running rampant of political theater

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Alyssa Zeisler   We expand what (and how and who) we serve

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Amy Schmitz Weiss   Local news isn’t where you thought it was

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Tushar Banerjee   Interactive ads will be the new face of display advertising

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

james Wahutu   Think 2018 was bad? Wait until you see 2019

Matt Karolian   Publishers come to terms with being Facebook’s enablers

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Elisabeth Goodridge   Yes, they signed up — but our job’s not over

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Frank Mungeam   Tonight at 11: News, sports, and climate change

Tshepo Tshabalala   Ahead of African elections, unlock partnerships with fact-checkers

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Sarah Stonbely   Mapping the local news ecosystem — with scale but detail

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Carrie Brown-Smith   Advocating a healthy civic life is no journalistic crime

Axie Navas   The traffic hunt, CMS battle, and magazine identity crises loom

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Frank Chimero   Leave the phone at home and put news on your wrist

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Robin Kwong   Tech shouldn’t be the only field pollinating “news nerds”

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   A long, slow slog, with no one coming to the rescue

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Kjerstin Thorson   Time to get mad about information inequality (again)

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Jennifer Dargan   You don’t build diversity through one-off training sessions

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Cindy Royal   For journalism curriculum to change, its faculty needs disruption

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Steve Myers   From trying to cover it all to covering what matters

Adam B. Ellick   Video forensic reporting goes mainstream — and local

Amy King   We should listen to the kids (especially on Instagram)

Jenée Desmond-Harris   It finally sinks in that some people aren’t white

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Whitney Phillips   Our information systems aren’t broken — they’re working as intended

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Simon Galperin   After capitalism’s fire, journalism’s secondary succession

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Angilee Shah   The year news orgs say “yes” to real leaders

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Tyler Fisher   This is journalism’s do-or-die moment

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Umbreen Bhatti   The story doesn’t end for the people we quote

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Stephanie Edgerly   It’s time to understand the un-audience

Zainab Khan   Publishers whose products can stand up to social media giants will win

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Millie Tran   There is no magic — you’ve got this

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Seth C. Lewis   The gap between journalism and research is too wide

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Raney Aronson-Rath   We learn “digital” doesn’t have to mean “short”

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Cristi Hegranes   A year to invest in the security of local journalists

Alexandra Borchardt   Newsrooms need to build trust with their journalists, not just the audience

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Hossein Derakhshan   The news is dying, but journalism will not — and should not

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0