Sara Dickenson Quinn

Sara teaches in the areas of design, illustration, photojournalism and leadership. She encourages visual journalists to find their voice in the newsroom and to think beyond traditional job descriptions for ways to contribute their ideas, passions and abilities.


Theverge

How The Verge used visuals to tell the delicate story of a face transplant

The ordeal of a woman who received a total face transplant is hard for an audience to fathom without seeing it. But Verge science editor Katie Drummond had a challenge beyond potentially making some readers squeamish: how to tell the story with the care and respect Carmen Tarleton deserved.

45-year-old Carmen Tarleton worked as a registered nurse in Thetford, Vt., before she was attacked by her husband in 2007. She has two daughters, Hannah and Liza.

Tarleton’s ex-husband attacked her with lye and a baseball bat in 2007, and media coverage afterward upset her because it prefaced stories with disclaimers like “‘warning, this footage is graphic and may disturb some viewers,’” Drummond wrote in an e-mail to Poynter.

That horrified Tarleton, Drummond wrote. “The idea that her own face was being treated as if she was some kind of monster, or that her disfigurement made her somehow less human.”

Drummond and the editors at The Verge wanted to respect Tarleton’s feelings.… Read more

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Firestorm2

How ongoing teamwork fueled The Guardian’s Firestorm interactive

How did The Guardian find a focus for its new multimedia piece, Firestorm?

The project began with inspiration: a striking photograph of a woman and her grandchildren taking shelter from a raging fire in the water under a jetty. The photograph came to represent what Australian officials refer to as “The Angry Summer,” the hottest season on record in that nation’s history. That season affected thousands of people in Tasmania, and has become a talking point about climate change.

Feature writer Jon Henley and video producer Laurence Topham went to Tasmania to find the story behind that photo and others. When they returned, they worked with the Guardian’s multimedia and interactive teams to fuse words, video footage, pictures and audio into a rich interactive feature.… Read more

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(AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Covering Guns: Live coverage of the conference

Poynter’s coverage of the … Read more

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How one illustrator approaches investigative reporting

Artist Marina Luz faced a journalistic challenge.

She had to illustrate the story of a young woman named “Jennifer,” who had been sexually abused in a state-run facility. But she could not use an image of Jennifer. What’s more, she couldn’t show what Jennifer or any of the other people in the story actually looked like.

Could we understand Jennifer — a troubled, young disabled woman — without actually seeing her?

Luz solved the problem with expressive drawings that were then paired with narration, music and a statement from Jennifer’s mother, read by an actor to further disguise their identities. Jennifer is not the young woman’s real name.

There are no bright colors in Luz’s renderings — only sketchy black lines and muted shades of brown, gray and blue.… Read more

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New York Times’ ‘Seinfeld-esque’ sports page shows the power of nothing

Kapow! Blam! Surprise! Sometimes, that’s what nothing can do.

The New York Times sports staff reminded us of that again with their cover “story” about this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame inductees — or lack, thereof.

 

This sports front about the lack of inductees to the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame was designed by Wayne Kamidoi.

“Given the news, the package was Seinfeld-esque,” said Sports Art Director Wayne Kamidoi, “a cover about nothing.”

Kamidoi likes to push the boundaries when it comes to conceptual design, especially when there is a point to be made.

Conceptual design often involves a marriage of words and images that tells a story in the arrangement itself.

The staff was not surprised that nominees Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens didn’t make it, but it “felt like history had spoken,” said Sports Editor Joe Sexton in a note to staff sent Thursday morning.… Read more

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Why photo of the First Couple was Obama’s most retweeted ever

Images and graphics are often the things shared most by people after an event of last night’s magnitude.

Photos capture moments frozen in time.

Graphics can distill the complex.

Interactive graphics can allow people to peruse and discover at their own pace.

Illustration is striking—partly because it is used so infrequently—and because something drawn by hand can convey a very human aspect of mood and emotion.

There were some masterful examples of visual storytelling captured, created, experienced and shared in real-time around the world last night.

Here are a few things that caught our attention.

This image of President Obama and the first lady was tweeted out by his staff minutes after he was re-elected for a second term with the phrase: “Four more years.” Twitter reports it is his most re-tweeted tweet, ever.… Read more

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tablets

New Poynter Eyetrack research reveals how people read news on tablets

It’s all about touch.

People were either intimately involved with the iPad screen while reading during our recent eyetracking study — keeping nearly constant contact while touching, tapping, pinching and swiping to adjust their view — or they carefully arranged a full screen of text before physically detaching as they sat back to read.

This intimate or detached touching behavior was one of the most intriguing findings in Poynter’s new research on tablet storytelling. It’s one of many that can help us define how people want their news.

“Intimate” readers were highly focused. They tended to read one or two lines of text, then make subtle, frequent swipes to move a few lines of text into their field of vision like a teleprompter. This was like a pacing tool that helped them to keep their place in the text.… Read more

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The major prototypes in Poynter's EyeTrack: Tablet project include three styles of entry pages. Development is underway. The project is funded largely by the Knight Foundation.

Poynter ‘EyeTrack: Tablet’ research shows horizontal swiping instinct for photo galleries

Poynter’s “EyeTrack: Tablet” project, the latest in our long tradition of research to understand how readers view news, can now announce some early results: iPad users have an overwhelming instinct to swipe horizontally through a full screen photo gallery, regardless of portrait or landscape orientation.

Our Poynter research team thought this was the case. But we couldn’t say with any certainty until we’d observed about a hundred people in an initial, small slice of the study at multiple sites around the U.S.

This first bit of data helps us make decisions about the much more complex prototype designs that we’ll test in the months ahead.

The swiping gesture is an important component to integrate. Much news content on tablets currently call for users to swipe horizontally between stories and vertically through the actual text of a story.… Read more

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Poynter eye-tracking research to determine best strategy for news on tablets

What should we know about the way storytelling and news is presented on tablets?

In 1990, Poynter tested how people read news in print. In 2000 and 2003, we tested how people read news online. Then, we dove into the differences between the two with research in 2007.

Next up? The device that incorporates the magical elements of touch and location.

Of course, readers touch and transport newspapers and laptops, but the interaction on tablets really is quite different.

Users pinch, swipe, and scroll, horizontally and vertically. They multitask and they physically move from place to place. Tablets devices know where people are, and they give people access to real time information on the go, based on where they are.

This adds great dimensions to the user experience.… Read more

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sundaypapers

4 reasons the Sunday front page now looks a lot like the Monday front page

Where are all of the truly great Sunday, front page designs in the U.S. these days?

As I do my daily run through the Newseum’s collection of front pages, Sunday looks a lot like Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.

“Papers seem to be taking fewer chances,” said Suzette Moyer, creative director of the St. Petersburg Times’ Bay Magazine. “Instead of blowing out that one big story that they know is good, papers are trying to appease every reader by cramming it all on the front page.”

You have a little more time to read on a Sunday, right? And more time to analyze what you’ve read. It should be special.

Granted, there might be a beautifully executed front page on any given Sunday in any given town with the ability to stop a reader in her tracks.… Read more

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