Visual journalism


Tips for Storytellers: Creating an online portfolio

The key to getting a great job or internship is showing what you can do. An online portfolio is the new norm for a crucial first impression. Here are a few ideas, part of a series of graphics with tips for storytellers. Next Friday: How to sharpen your personal brand with social media.

Poynter Quinn-fo-graphics: Tips for online portfolios

For a PDF: Poynter Quinn-fo-graphics: Tips for creating an online portfolio

Related: How to make photos better | How to polish your writing | How to make the most of your tweets | How to get your video right Read more


With ‘Shark and Minnow,’ New York Times tried to keep readers scrolling

Scroll down the page on “A Game of Shark and Minnow,” Jeff Himmelman’s New York Times Magazine story about a disputed region in the South China Sea, and you may notice something the story doesn’t ask you to do: Stop.

That was the whole idea, Times Associate Managing Editor Steven Duenes, who directs the Times’ graphics, says in a phone call with Poynter. The crew that worked the most on the presentation — Mike Bostock, Shan Carter, Xaquín G.V. and Nancy Donaldson — were trying to marry Himmelman’s story and Ashley Gilbertson’s photographs and videos in a way that felt “more like what the normal experience of the Web is: The users’ ability to scroll through a a series of images, to have the images do the explanatory work.”

You’re not stopping for three minutes to watch a video, Duenes said. Gilbertson’s animated clips — not GIFs, he said — aren’t videos “where you hit play and sit back and watch. Read more

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Why rainbow colors aren’t the best option for data visualizations

Data visualizations are beautiful, exciting ways to tell stories. But you have to choose carefully in designing a map or chart, and one of the biggest mistakes is misusing rainbow colors.

Rainbow color schemes — also called spectral color schemes — are frequent choices for visualizing data, both because they look bold and exciting and because they’re the default for many visualization software tools. But they usually do more harm than good. Detecting the colors at all is a problem for more readers than you might guess, and the rest of the audience will find it easier to understand the visualization if it’s presented with a different palette.

Rainbow color schemes are “almost always the wrong choice,” Anthony C. Robinson, geography professor at Pennsylvia State University, wrote in an online class on Coursera, which taught students how to use geospatial technologies to map data.

Here are some reasons why rainbow colors are the “wrong choice”:

Colorblindness and ordering colors

People who are colorblind have difficulties detecting colors, particularly red and green. Read more

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Twitter research shows how multimedia increases engagement

To update an old saying for the Twitter era: A picture is worth a thousand characters.

Research by Twitter shows that tweets that include a photo or video receive 3 to 4 times more engagement (retweets, replies, etc.) than those that don’t. Read more


Use of generic photos can be dangerous for illustrating news stories

Maybe you have a Web CMS that requires an image to be associated with some stories. Maybe you just need some kind of image, any image, to color an otherwise gray slate of text.

Whatever the reason, many news websites make use of generic images — either purchased stock images or reused file photos — to illustrate articles.

Sometimes it’s pretty obvious that such an image is a posed stock photo. That picture of a cat lounging in fancy clothes with a gold chain, hundred-dollar bills and caviar is probably not going to be mistaken for a documentary news photo.

But others, like a gun or crime-scene tape, can be ambiguous when placed in a related news story.

That’s a problem ABC 17 in Columbia, Mo., has had for the last few years. Many stories about car crashes use the same generic photo of a smashed-up sedan. Likewise with stories about shootings carrying a generic picture of a handgun and shell casings lying on pavement. Read more

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In matchup between NY, New England, no clear winner for Super Bowl front pages

Monday morning quarterbacks will have little to debate about the New York Giants’ victory over the New England Patriots in Sunday’s Super Bowl. (And for those who don’t care, here are all of the Super Bowl XLVI commercials, in order of appearance.) The front pages in New York and New England are less exciting than the game, but a few capture its spirit. Some pages have been cropped, and all pages appear courtesy of the Newseum. || Related: How Super Bowl looked on Twitter || Previously: How Indy Star plans to enhance Super Bowl coverage with visuals

This photo of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady appeared on multiple front pages.
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Architecture student creates jigsaw puzzle to illustrate Chicago’s confusing ward lines | Irresponsible Architecture

Architecture student Andrew Bayley came up with an illustration of Chicago’s confusing political districts that any graphic artist or political journalist would be proud of: a jigsaw puzzle, with one piece for each of the city’s 50 wards.

Chicago’s wards, literally pieces of a puzzle. (Image used with permission.)

“Just because I have chosen to focus on this pursuit professionally,” he wrote, “does not mean I pay no attention to other things that affect us urban dwellers.” Read more


Pennsylvania’s front pages pay tribute to Joe Paterno

Front pages in Pennsylvania featured Joe Paterno on Monday, with dominant photos and tributes to the former Penn State coach who died over the weekend. Several of the papers played on the Nittany Lions team name, with headlines such as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” “Lion at Rest,” and “When Lions Weep.” Others simply said, “Farewell, Coach.The full collection is available at the Newseum. A selection appears below. || | Previously: False Paterno death reports highlight journalists’ hunger for glory | How false reports of Joe Paterno’s death were spread and debunked (Poynter)

The Daily News used an archival photo of Paterno from his early coaching days. (Front page appears courtesy of the Newseum)
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New Time magazine cover mirrors previous Romney coverage

The latest issue of Time magazine, hitting newsstands today, echoes an earlier Mitt Romney cover to revisit ongoing questions about the candidate’s popularity.

“If this week’s cover feels a little familiar, there’s good reason for that,” writes managing editor Rick Stengel in a letter to readers. “In early December, we put Mitt Romney on the cover and asked, “Why Don’t They Like Me?“—a question that has been at the heart of the GOP primary process.

“This week, in the wake of Romney’s razor-thin win in Iowa, we’ve updated and revised the question, using the other half of the same portrait of Romney. The first cover got a lot of attention, not least from Governor Romney himself, who began annotating the cover for those who asked him to sign it.”

The January 16, 2012 cover of Time magazine (right) echoes the magazine’s December 12, 2011 cover (left) with an image taken from the same photo.
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Graphic designers mourn passing of NYT’s Louis Silverstein

Society for News Design | ImprintThe New York Times
In a 2004 essay (which SND republished Friday) Phil Ritzenberg wrote that former New York Times art director Louis Silverstein, who died Thursday, “helped pave the way for newspaper designers to be valued as participants in newspaper journalism, even at tradition-bound institutions, and to help silence the tedious debate about art people versus word people.” Charles Apple writes, “You’d be amazed at the list of things we accept today as standard features of print newspapers that Silverstein invented over his decades at the Times.” Among the many bits of journo-trivia in the Times’ obit is this fact: Silverstein dropped the period from Times’ nameplate in 1967, saving the newspaper $45 a year in ink. Read more

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