Friday, March 30, 2007

if it was so obvious...

A nice story link via Mindy McAdams over at teaching journalism online. Matt Ericson, deputy graphics director at The New York Times, gave a presentation at Malofiej in Pamplona, Spain highlighted at the Society for Newspaper Design (SND) web site. 'The best piece of advice Matt gave was, as he said, simple in theory and difficulty in practice: Find the best way to help people understand the news.'

I couldn’t have said it better myself. News organizations, formerly newspapers, have a competitive advantage in understanding news. Now we need to help people understand the WHY. TV and the internet can provide the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, and WHERE much faster, but not the context and the WHY.

Shan Carter in online graphics at is quoted as saying that he's trying to build work for 'both Bart and Lisa Simpson,' meaning that it can be surface and simple (like Bart) or deeper and thoughtful (like Lisa). It's a good way to think about making work that appeals to two very different kinds of readers.

Matt used the example, among others, of the good reporting that The Times has done at chronicling the war in Iraq in the Casualties of War interactive feature, which can be both a fast scan or a completely immersive experience. How you choose to use the data depends on your needs, and in that way it is a completely different tool than the print newspaper. Check it out to see how you can dig deep into complex data sets.

Obvious idea #2, understand who your audience might be and who your audience is and tell stories for them and to them where they are, not where you think they should be.

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