Graphics, unite

“Traditional narratives assume that publishing online and in print require different workflows, file formats, and so on. But do they?”

A reporter walks into an open-plan office. “I’ve got this very interesting story going in a couple of days,” they say, “and I think we could do some graphics with that data I’ve got. Who should I talk to?” 

That reporter is in a bit of a pickle. They spot name cards on the table, reading Graphics Desk, Digital Graphics, Interactive Team, Visual Journalism — and they rightly wonder who they should be talking to. “What’s the difference between these teams anyway?” they think. “I just want a chart.”

He approaches the first table. “Well, we kind of have our plates full right now, plus it kind of sounds like something The Other Team could do, right?” The reporter nods politely and goes to talk to The Other Team. “Oh, well, we’re a bit short-staffed at the minute, and your dataset only has like five data points in it. And they look like very round numbers to me — did you make them up?” Of course the reporter didn’t; that’s what was in the press release. “This is a job for The Previous Team, surely.”

And on it goes, adding to the confusion.

Fortunately, 2021 is going to change the face of this culture war that exists in some organizations between established (and often print-oriented) graphics desks and newer teams — thanks to a bit of technology and some goodwill.
 

1. Technology and tools

Traditional narratives assume that publishing online and in print require different workflows, file formats, and so on. But do they? Chart-building tools and companies have outdone themselves recently, bringing more templates, greater ease of use, and more interoperability between output formats and APIs. The Los Angeles Times’ success in unifying digital and print output, leveraging the power of Datawrapper, is one example to look to.

Granted, technical solutions require technical resources to be sussed out and implemented, which can take time and resources. But they also pay off immediately in minimizing duplication of labor.
 

2. Goodwill from new opportunities

There’s value in joining forces in this space. The avenues for collaboration and unification of the coverage across screen, platform, and paper are huge — and who doesn’t want to see their beautifully designed piece looking gorgeous on a Retina iPhone and full-width in the newspaper?

Different teams bring different skill sets, which can be in short supply elsewhere. Data/programming skills, illustration talent, advanced GIS-fu: With less duplication getting in the way, these skills can be more widely employed, shared, and nurtured.

Finally, encouraging contact between these previously separate tribes will also inspire and develop new career paths for all — whether one dreams in CMYK or RGB.

The next frontier, of course, is broadcast — a realm of truncated axes and 3d pie charts. But let’s start with 2021, shall we?

Basile Simon is a freelance coder-journalist specializing in data visualization.

A reporter walks into an open-plan office. “I’ve got this very interesting story going in a couple of days,” they say, “and I think we could do some graphics with that data I’ve got. Who should I talk to?” 

That reporter is in a bit of a pickle. They spot name cards on the table, reading Graphics Desk, Digital Graphics, Interactive Team, Visual Journalism — and they rightly wonder who they should be talking to. “What’s the difference between these teams anyway?” they think. “I just want a chart.”

He approaches the first table. “Well, we kind of have our plates full right now, plus it kind of sounds like something The Other Team could do, right?” The reporter nods politely and goes to talk to The Other Team. “Oh, well, we’re a bit short-staffed at the minute, and your dataset only has like five data points in it. And they look like very round numbers to me — did you make them up?” Of course the reporter didn’t; that’s what was in the press release. “This is a job for The Previous Team, surely.”

And on it goes, adding to the confusion.

Fortunately, 2021 is going to change the face of this culture war that exists in some organizations between established (and often print-oriented) graphics desks and newer teams — thanks to a bit of technology and some goodwill.
 

1. Technology and tools

Traditional narratives assume that publishing online and in print require different workflows, file formats, and so on. But do they? Chart-building tools and companies have outdone themselves recently, bringing more templates, greater ease of use, and more interoperability between output formats and APIs. The Los Angeles Times’ success in unifying digital and print output, leveraging the power of Datawrapper, is one example to look to.

Granted, technical solutions require technical resources to be sussed out and implemented, which can take time and resources. But they also pay off immediately in minimizing duplication of labor.
 

2. Goodwill from new opportunities

There’s value in joining forces in this space. The avenues for collaboration and unification of the coverage across screen, platform, and paper are huge — and who doesn’t want to see their beautifully designed piece looking gorgeous on a Retina iPhone and full-width in the newspaper?

Different teams bring different skill sets, which can be in short supply elsewhere. Data/programming skills, illustration talent, advanced GIS-fu: With less duplication getting in the way, these skills can be more widely employed, shared, and nurtured.

Finally, encouraging contact between these previously separate tribes will also inspire and develop new career paths for all — whether one dreams in CMYK or RGB.

The next frontier, of course, is broadcast — a realm of truncated axes and 3d pie charts. But let’s start with 2021, shall we?

Basile Simon is a freelance coder-journalist specializing in data visualization.

Jody Brannon   People won’t renew

Don Day   Business first, journalism second

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting dodged a bullet in 2020, but 2021 will be harder

L. Gordon Crovitz   Common law will finally apply to the Internet

Benjamin Toff   Beltway reporting gets normal again, for better and for worse

Catalina Albeanu   Publish less, listen more

Loretta Chao   Open up the profession

Janet Haven and Sam Hinds   Is this an AI newsroom?

Anthony Nadler   Journalism struggles to find a new model of legitimacy

José Zamora   Walking the talk on diversity

Shaydanay Urbani and Nancy Watzman   Local collaboration is key to slowing misinformation

Alfred Hermida and Oscar Westlund   The virus ups data journalism’s game

Victor Pickard   The commercial era for local journalism is over

Burt Herman   Journalists build post-Facebook digital communities

Celeste Headlee   The rise of radical newsroom transparency

Sarah Marshall   The year audiences need extra cheer

Danielle C. Belton   A decimated media rededicates itself to truth

Nikki Usher   Don’t expect an antitrust dividend for the media

Heidi Tworek   A year of news mocktails

Annie Rudd   Newsrooms grow less comfortable with the “view from above”

Natalie Meade   Journalism enters rehab

Jonas Kaiser   Toward a wehrhafte journalism

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, a push for pluralism

Mariano Blejman   It’s time to challenge autocompleted journalism

Nonny de la Pena   News reaches the third dimension

Taylor Lorenz   Journalists will learn influencing isn’t easy

Kristen Muller   Engaged journalism scales

Cory Bergman   The year after a thousand earthquakes

Hossein Derakhshan   Mass personalization of truth

Logan Jaffe   History as a reporting tool

Edward Roussel   Tech companies get aggressive in local

Jennifer Choi   What have we done for you lately?

Aaron Foley   Diversity gains haven’t shown up in local news

Anna Nirmala   Local news orgs grasp the urgency of community roots

Nicholas Jackson   Blogging is back, but better

Nisha Chittal   The year we stop pivoting

Chicas Poderosas   More voices mean better information

M. Scott Havens   Traditional pay TV will embrace the disruption

Ariane Bernard   Going solo is still only a path for the few

Patrick Butler   Covid-19 reporting has prepared us for cross-border collaboration

Mandy Jenkins   You build trust by helping your readers

Meredith D. Clark   The year journalism starts paying reparations

Rachel Glickhouse   Journalists will be kinder to each other — and to themselves

Tim Carmody   Spotify will make big waves in video

Matt Skibinski   Misinformation won’t stop unless we stop it

Cory Haik   Be essential

John Garrett   A surprisingly good year

C.W. Anderson   Journalism changed under Trump — will it keep changing under Biden?

Errin Haines   Let’s normalize women’s leadership

Marcus Mabry   News orgs adapt to a post-Trump world (with Trump still in it)

Jer Thorp   Fewer pixels, more cardboard

Ernie Smith   Entrepreneurship on rails

A.J. Bauer   The year of MAGAcal thinking

Sara M. Watson   Return of the RSS reader

Renée Kaplan   Falling in love with your subscription

Mark Stenberg   The rise of the journalist-influencer

Doris Truong   Indigenous issues get long-overdue mainstream coverage

Colleen Shalby   The definition of good journalism shifts

John Saroff   Covid sparks the growth of independent local news sites

Brian Moritz   The year sports journalism changes for good

Alicia Bell and Simon Galperin   Media reparations now

Sam Ford   We’ll find better ways to archive our work

Julia B. Chan and Kim Bui   Millennials are ready to run things

Steve Henn   Has independent podcasting peaked?

Mike Caulfield   2021’s misinformation will look a lot like 2020’s (and 2019’s, and…)

Kevin D. Grant   Parachute journalism goes away for good

David Chavern   Local video finally gets momentum

María Sánchez Díez   Traffic will plummet — and it’ll be ok

Zainab Khan   From understanding to feeling

Bill Adair   The future of fact-checking is all about structured data

Rodney Gibbs   Zooming beyond talking heads

Christoph Mergerson   Black Americans will demand more from journalism

John Ketchum   More journalists of color become newsroom founders

Tonya Mosley   True equity means ownership

Nico Gendron   Ask your readers to help build your products

Mike Ananny   Toward better tech journalism

Talmon Joseph Smith   The media rejects deficit hawkery

An Xiao Mina   2020 isn’t a black swan — it’s a yellow canary

Ben Werdmuller   The web blooms again

Julia Angwin   Show your (computational) work

Marissa Evans   Putting community trauma into context

Chase Davis   The year we look beyond The Story

Delia Cai   Subscriptions start working for the middle

Ståle Grut   Network analysis enters the journalism toolbox

Alyssa Zeisler   Holistic medicine for journalism

David Skok   A pandemic-prompted wave of consolidation

Francesco Zaffarano   The year we ask the audience what it needs

Cindy Royal   J-school grads maintain their optimism and adaptability

Jean Friedman-Rudovsky and Cassie Haynes   A shift from conversation to action

Sarah Stonbely   Videoconferencing brings more geographic diversity

John Davidow   Reflect and repent

Samantha Ragland   The year of journalists taking initiative

Joanne McNeil   Newsrooms push back against Ivy League cronyism

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   Stop pretending publishers are a united front

Tauhid Chappell and Mike Rispoli   Defund the crime beat

Jesse Holcomb   Genre erosion in nonprofit journalism

Jeremy Gilbert   Human-centered journalism

Andrew Ramsammy   Stop being polite and start getting real

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   The download, podcasting’s metric king, gets dethroned

Rick Berke   Virtual events are here to stay

Mark S. Luckie   Newsrooms and streaming services get cozy

Sumi Aggarwal   News literacy programs aren’t child’s play

Ariel Zirulnick   Local newsrooms question their paywalls

Beena Raghavendran   Journalism gets fused with art

Matt DeRienzo   Citizen truth brigades steer us back toward reality

Jacqué Palmer   The rise of the plain-text email newsletter

Robert Hernandez   Data and shame

Michael W. Wagner   Fractured democracy, fractured journalism

Ben Collins   We need to learn how to talk to (and about) accidental conspiracists

Pia Frey   Building growth through tastemakers and their communities

james Wahutu   Journalists still wrongly think the U.S. is different

Masuma Ahuja   We’ll remember how interconnected our world is

Garance Franke-Ruta   Rebundling content, rebuilding connections

Pablo Boczkowski   Audiences have revolted. Will newsrooms adapt?

Jim Friedlich   A newspaper renaissance reached by stopping the presses

Joni Deutsch   Local arts and music make journalism more joyous

Joshua Darr   Legislatures will tackle the local news crisis

Tanya Cordrey   Declining trust forces publishers to claim (or disclaim) values

Amara Aguilar   Journalism schools emphasize listening

Hadjar Benmiloud   Get representative, or die trying

Gabe Schneider   Another year of empty promises on diversity

Kate Myers   My son will join every Zoom call in our industry

Sue Cross   A global consensus around the kind of news we need to save

Raney Aronson-Rath   To get past information divides, we need to understand them first

Richard J. Tofel   Less on politics, more on how government works (or doesn’t)

Megan McCarthy   Readers embrace a low-information diet

Andrew Donohue   The rise of the democracy beat

Tamar Charney   Public radio has a midlife crisis

Kawandeep Virdee   Goodbye, doomscroll

Tshepo Tshabalala   Go niche

Rishad Patel   From direct-to-consumer to direct-to-believers

Candis Callison   Calling it a crisis isn’t enough (if it ever was)

Whitney Phillips   Facts are an insufficient response to falsehoods

Marie Shanahan   Journalism schools stop perpetuating the status quo

Astead W. Herndon   The Trump-sized window of the media caring about race closes again

Jennifer Brandel   A sneak peak at power mapping, 2073’s top innovation

Zizi Papacharissi   The year we rebuild the infrastructure of truth

Imaeyen Ibanga   Journalism gets unmasked

Kerri Hoffman   Protecting podcasting’s open ecosystem

Ashton Lattimore   Remote work helps level the playing field in an insular industry

Rachel Schallom   The rise of nonprofit journalism continues

Basile Simon   Graphics, unite

Brandy Zadrozny   Misinformation fatigue sets in

Ryan Kellett   The bundle gets bundled

Bo Hee Kim   Newsrooms create an intentional and collaborative culture

Cherian George   Enter the lamb warriors

Francesca Tripodi   Don’t expect breaking up Google and Facebook to solve our information woes

Laura E. Davis   The focus turns to newsroom leaders for lasting change

Sonali Prasad   Making disaster journalism that cuts through the noise

Ray Soto   The news gets spatial

Stefanie Murray and Anthony Advincula   Expect to see more translations and non-English content

Charo Henríquez   A new path to leadership

Jessica Clark   News becomes plural

Linda Solomon Wood   Canada steps up for journalism

Gonzalo del Peon   Collaborations expand from newsrooms to the business side

Nabiha Syed   Newsrooms quit their toxic relationships

Parker Molloy   The press will risk elevating a Shadow President Trump