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.

Wilson Liévano

Mandy Jenkins

Robert Hernandez

Shannon McGregor & Carolyn Schmitt

Matt Karolian

Izabella Kaminska

Francesco Zaffarano

Chicas Poderosas

Michael W. Wagner

Kristen Muller

Amy Schmitz Weiss

Jennifer Brandel

Doris Truong

Larry Ryckman

Moreno Cruz Osório

Brian Moritz

Sam Guzik

Mary Walter-Brown

Stephen Fowler

j. Siguru Wahutu

Laxmi Parthasarathy

Christoph Mergerson

Alice Antheaume

Matthew Pressman

Chase Davis

Zizi Papacharissi

Nikki Usher

Errin Haines

Jessica Clark

Christina Shih

Tom Trewinnard

Amara Aguilar

Kendra Pierre-Louis

Whitney Phillips

Burt Herman

Joshua P. Darr

Jennifer Coogan

Julia Angwin

David Cohn

Cherian George

Megan McCarthy

Jody Brannon

An Xiao Mina

Gabe Schneider

Simon Allison

Joanne McNeil

Joe Amditis

Anthony Nadler

Juleyka Lantigua

Jim Friedlich

Victor Pickard

Eric Nuzum

Jonas Kaiser

Daniel Eilemberg

Julia Munslow

Kerri Hoffman

Raney Aronson-Rath

Jesenia De Moya Correa

James Green

Kristen Jeffers

Anika Anand

Stefanie Murray

Tamar Charney

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

A.J. Bauer

David Skok

Janelle Salanga

Ariel Zirulnick

Anita Varma

Mike Rispoli

Shalabh Upadhyay

Rachel Glickhouse

Richard Tofel

Parker Molloy

Gonzalo del Peon

Jesse Holcomb

Andrew Freedman

Millie Tran

Candace Amos

Meena Thiruvengadam

Joy Mayer

Catalina Albeanu

Gordon Crovitz

Cindy Royal

Matt DeRienzo

Don Day

Tony Baranowski

S. Mitra Kalita

Sarah Stonbely

Cristina Tardáguila

Natalia Viana

Sarah Marshall

Mario García

Kathleen Searles & Rebekah Trumble

Simon Galperin

Melody Kramer

Joni Deutsch

Paul Cheung

John Davidow

Ståle Grut