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.

Tony Baranowski

Matt DeRienzo

Whitney Phillips

Jennifer Brandel

Moreno Cruz Osório

Gonzalo del Peon

Andrew Freedman

Meena Thiruvengadam

Izabella Kaminska

AX Mina

Mario García

Alice Antheaume

Shalabh Upadhyay

Stephen Fowler

Kathleen Searles & Rebekah Trumble

Amara Aguilar

Shannon McGregor & Carolyn Schmitt

Cherian George

Gordon Crovitz

Joe Amditis

Catalina Albeanu

j. Siguru Wahutu

Gabe Schneider

Joy Mayer

Natalia Viana

Anika Anand

Ariel Zirulnick

Sarah Stonbely

Laxmi Parthasarathy

Cindy Royal

Matthew Pressman

A.J. Bauer

Wilson Liévano

Tom Trewinnard

Burt Herman

Joni Deutsch

Sam Guzik

Jim Friedlich

Richard Tofel

Paul Cheung

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

Zizi Papacharissi

Matt Karolian

Parker Molloy

Errin Haines

Candace Amos

David Cohn

Eric Nuzum

Simon Allison

Millie Tran

Francesco Zaffarano

Mandy Jenkins

Mike Rispoli

Jesenia De Moya Correa

Jesse Holcomb

Rachel Glickhouse

Julia Munslow

Amy Schmitz Weiss

Victor Pickard

David Skok

Jennifer Coogan

Julia Angwin

Kendra Pierre-Louis

Chase Davis

Sarah Marshall

Jessica Clark

Larry Ryckman

Raney Aronson-Rath

Anthony Nadler

Christoph Mergerson

Tamar Charney

Ståle Grut

Joshua P. Darr

Christina Shih

Nikki Usher

Megan McCarthy

Jody Brannon

Chicas Poderosas

Jonas Kaiser

Kerri Hoffman

Doris Truong

Kristen Jeffers

Joanne McNeil

Juleyka Lantigua

John Davidow

Kristen Muller

Anita Varma

Stefanie Murray

Melody Kramer

Michael W. Wagner

Daniel Eilemberg

Brian Moritz

Cristina Tardáguila

Don Day

James Green

Janelle Salanga

Robert Hernandez

S. Mitra Kalita

Simon Galperin

Mary Walter-Brown