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.

A.J. Bauer

Stephen Fowler

Paul Cheung

Joshua P. Darr

Parker Molloy

Ariel Zirulnick

Victor Pickard

Jim Friedlich

Matthew Pressman

Mike Rispoli

Simon Allison

Christoph Mergerson

Gordon Crovitz

Gabe Schneider

David Skok

Natalia Viana

Kristen Muller

Catalina Albeanu

Sarah Stonbely

Alice Antheaume

Joni Deutsch

Cristina Tardáguila

AX Mina

Brian Moritz

Laxmi Parthasarathy

Joy Mayer

Kathleen Searles & Rebekah Trumble

Ståle Grut

Doris Truong

Kristen Jeffers

Izabella Kaminska

Stefanie Murray

S. Mitra Kalita

Joanne McNeil

Robert Hernandez

Anthony Nadler

Jessica Clark

Zizi Papacharissi

Sam Guzik

Jennifer Coogan

Sarah Marshall

Mario García

Matt Karolian

Larry Ryckman

Matt DeRienzo

Shalabh Upadhyay

Cherian George

Chase Davis

Chicas Poderosas

Christina Shih

Julia Angwin

Rachel Glickhouse

Tamar Charney

Cindy Royal

Michael W. Wagner

Gonzalo del Peon

Joe Amditis

Julia Munslow

Don Day

Janelle Salanga

Anita Varma

Jesse Holcomb

Meena Thiruvengadam

Jennifer Brandel

Errin Haines

Francesco Zaffarano

Tony Baranowski

Jody Brannon

Amara Aguilar

Raney Aronson-Rath

Wilson Liévano

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

Eric Nuzum

Anika Anand

Jesenia De Moya Correa

Andrew Freedman

Juleyka Lantigua

j. Siguru Wahutu

Mary Walter-Brown

Megan McCarthy

David Cohn

Tom Trewinnard

Richard Tofel

Whitney Phillips

Simon Galperin

Mandy Jenkins

Melody Kramer

Daniel Eilemberg

Kendra Pierre-Louis

James Green

Kerri Hoffman

Burt Herman

Candace Amos

Shannon McGregor & Carolyn Schmitt

Nikki Usher

John Davidow

Millie Tran

Jonas Kaiser

Amy Schmitz Weiss

Moreno Cruz Osório