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.

Natalia Viana

Meena Thiruvengadam

Tamar Charney

A.J. Bauer

Errin Haines

Mandy Jenkins

Eric Nuzum

Christoph Mergerson

Larry Ryckman

Daniel Eilemberg

Andrew Freedman

Mike Rispoli

Candace Amos

j. Siguru Wahutu

Melody Kramer

Francesco Zaffarano

Anika Anand

Kristen Jeffers

Simon Galperin

Alice Antheaume

Nikki Usher

Sarah Stonbely

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

Raney Aronson-Rath

Whitney Phillips

Simon Allison

Chicas Poderosas

Anthony Nadler

Matt Karolian

An Xiao Mina

Joni Deutsch

Don Day

Wilson Liévano

Laxmi Parthasarathy

Anita Varma

Jody Brannon

Robert Hernandez

Julia Angwin

Sam Guzik

Ståle Grut

Millie Tran

Doris Truong

Joy Mayer

Brian Moritz

Jessica Clark

Julia Munslow

Joshua P. Darr

Amara Aguilar

Jennifer Brandel

Matt DeRienzo

Chase Davis

Janelle Salanga

Cristina Tardáguila

Jonas Kaiser

Ariel Zirulnick

Gabe Schneider

Victor Pickard

Gordon Crovitz

Tom Trewinnard

Cherian George

Christina Shih

Kathleen Searles & Rebekah Trumble

Richard Tofel

Rachel Glickhouse

James Green

Amy Schmitz Weiss

Zizi Papacharissi

John Davidow

S. Mitra Kalita

Megan McCarthy

Sarah Marshall

Cindy Royal

Mario García

Matthew Pressman

Joanne McNeil

Jesenia De Moya Correa

Shannon McGregor & Carolyn Schmitt

Kerri Hoffman

Tony Baranowski

Kendra Pierre-Louis

Catalina Albeanu

Parker Molloy

Kristen Muller

Jesse Holcomb

Mary Walter-Brown

Michael W. Wagner

Burt Herman

Paul Cheung

Joe Amditis

David Cohn

Stefanie Murray

Shalabh Upadhyay

Stephen Fowler

Jennifer Coogan

Jim Friedlich

David Skok

Moreno Cruz Osório

Juleyka Lantigua

Izabella Kaminska

Gonzalo del Peon