Symbolia digital magazine draws in readers with 'illustrated journalism'

Symbolia | International Women's Media Foundation

One thing you can say for certain about Symbolia -- the illustrated iPad magazine launching today -- is that it's different.

Symbolia is a digital magazine whose content is more storyboard than story -- a rich blend of illustrations, comics and audio clips that spin a different kind of narrative. It's a promising new product launching the same day we learned another iPad news innovator, The Daily, is closing.

Erin Polgreen is the founder, editor and publisher. She explained the concept in a video for the International Women's Media Foundation, which provided startup grant funding:

When I say "illustrated journalism," I don't just mean pretty pictures with the news. We're talking about integrating long-form, investigative pieces with comics, infographics and other interactive elements to create a very visual news experience unlike anything that's really been tried before. We are basically turning the news into art.

The resulting magazine feels crafty, in both senses of the word -- clever and uniquely handmade.

Here are a couple of screenshots from the free preview issue, which you can get in the iPad app or via a PDF download (though that version lacks the interactivity and the audio that really amp up the storytelling). In the coming year, six semi-monthly issues will be accessible for an $11.99 annual subscription.

Eventually, Symbolia will offer e-book versions and app versions for Android tablet and Kindle Fire owners.

If you're a writer or an artist who might want to give this illustrated journalism thing a try, you can pitch stories here.

Related Poynter NewsU webinar: Erin Polgreen teaches "Illustrating the Story: Comics and Illustrated Journalism"

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    Jeff Sonderman

    Jeff Sonderman is the deputy director of the American Press Institute, helping to lead its use of research, tools, events, and strategic insights to advance and sustain journalism.


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