Linking content and format will be key

“To do this effectively, journalists must conceptualize stories through an honest discussion that has format at its core.”

Journalists have traditionally seen their job as creating content. How that content then progresses — from when the journalist types the last sentence to when the story is ready for consumption — is usually a process involving other members of an editorial team: copy editors, art directors and designers, and other production people.

As I prepare the Spring 2022 syllabus for my Multiplatform Design & Storytelling class at Columbia University, I’m keenly aware that the students I train and mentor to be journalists need to become adept at how content and story formats come together.

The link that journalism and technology share has never been more essential and stronger. We can no longer separate how stories flow, how they are updated, and how they are promoted in social media and newsletters from the technology that allows for the constant flow of information.

This isn’t to say that journalists need to become coders. But a journalist today must understand the technical processes that allow us to keep information current and to tell stories in a more engaging, mobile-friendly manner. Readers who consume news and features on mobile devices appreciate stories that are told seamlessly, with the narrative and visual assets coming together in a natural flow. To do this effectively, journalists must conceptualize stories through an honest discussion that has format at its core. The idea must be to start thinking of how the story would be consumed in small formats (such as phone screens) and then adapt it to larger formats (such as printed material).

How a story is packaged today corresponds directly with the platform in which it will be consumed. It’s up to the individual reporter to recognize what each platform can do best and to exploit those qualities in the way the story is written and designed. For mobile stories, appeal to the senses beyond static photos to incorporate audio and video components.

We already see content relevance, format, and presentation becoming key engines to effective visual storytelling. In 2022, the emphasis on how content and format come together should be a centerpiece of strategic discussions in every newsroom.

Journalists have traditionally seen their job as creating content. How that content then progresses — from when the journalist types the last sentence to when the story is ready for consumption — is usually a process involving other members of an editorial team: copy editors, art directors and designers, and other production people.

As I prepare the Spring 2022 syllabus for my Multiplatform Design & Storytelling class at Columbia University, I’m keenly aware that the students I train and mentor to be journalists need to become adept at how content and story formats come together.

The link that journalism and technology share has never been more essential and stronger. We can no longer separate how stories flow, how they are updated, and how they are promoted in social media and newsletters from the technology that allows for the constant flow of information.

This isn’t to say that journalists need to become coders. But a journalist today must understand the technical processes that allow us to keep information current and to tell stories in a more engaging, mobile-friendly manner. Readers who consume news and features on mobile devices appreciate stories that are told seamlessly, with the narrative and visual assets coming together in a natural flow. To do this effectively, journalists must conceptualize stories through an honest discussion that has format at its core. The idea must be to start thinking of how the story would be consumed in small formats (such as phone screens) and then adapt it to larger formats (such as printed material).

How a story is packaged today corresponds directly with the platform in which it will be consumed. It’s up to the individual reporter to recognize what each platform can do best and to exploit those qualities in the way the story is written and designed. For mobile stories, appeal to the senses beyond static photos to incorporate audio and video components.

We already see content relevance, format, and presentation becoming key engines to effective visual storytelling. In 2022, the emphasis on how content and format come together should be a centerpiece of strategic discussions in every newsroom.

Mary Walter-Brown

Julia Angwin

Janelle Salanga

Victor Pickard

Megan McCarthy

Tamar Charney

Gonzalo del Peon

Shannon McGregor & Carolyn Schmitt

Jesenia De Moya Correa

Kathleen Searles & Rebekah Trumble

Sarah Marshall

Jody Brannon

Joni Deutsch

Stefanie Murray

Kendra Pierre-Louis

A.J. Bauer

S. Mitra Kalita

Burt Herman

Sarah Stonbely

Michael W. Wagner

Joy Mayer

Joe Amditis

Whitney Phillips

Joanne McNeil

Eric Nuzum

Natalia Viana

Catalina Albeanu

Anika Anand

Francesco Zaffarano

Paul Cheung

Zizi Papacharissi

Stephen Fowler

Melody Kramer

Cristina Tardáguila

Cindy Royal

Cherian George

Julia Munslow

Jesse Holcomb

Matthew Pressman

Kristen Muller

Chicas Poderosas

Brian Moritz

Candace Amos

Christina Shih

Raney Aronson-Rath

Anthony Nadler

Chase Davis

Ståle Grut

Amy Schmitz Weiss

Tom Trewinnard

Shalabh Upadhyay

Anita Varma

Wilson Liévano

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

Jennifer Coogan

Alice Antheaume

Parker Molloy

Mike Rispoli

Amara Aguilar

Don Day

Moreno Cruz Osório

Meena Thiruvengadam

Rachel Glickhouse

Doris Truong

Ariel Zirulnick

Simon Allison

John Davidow

Matt Karolian

Sam Guzik

j. Siguru Wahutu

Mandy Jenkins

Richard Tofel

Joshua P. Darr

An Xiao Mina

Matt DeRienzo

Izabella Kaminska

Andrew Freedman

Christoph Mergerson

David Skok

Larry Ryckman

Tony Baranowski

Millie Tran

Errin Haines

Simon Galperin

Daniel Eilemberg

James Green

Jennifer Brandel

Jessica Clark

Kristen Jeffers

Jim Friedlich

Robert Hernandez

Kerri Hoffman

Jonas Kaiser

Gabe Schneider

Mario García

Juleyka Lantigua

Gordon Crovitz

Nikki Usher

Laxmi Parthasarathy

David Cohn