March 13, 2005

TIME OUT: Helping Word People

My adviser often reminds us when planning a story that the picture people need to talk to the word people.
Newsroom leaders must challenge the word people to think visually. Widen the story-planning stage from editor and reporter to include designers, photographers, copy desk, and web.
Ron Reason’s article, “Ten tips for visual thinking for writers and editors”provides simple advice on how we can incorporate visual thinking into our everyday newsroom conversations and meetings.

It's true, picture people and word people can coexist in newsrooms.
Another resource, “Thinking visually -- tips for writers from a designer, an artist and two photographers,” shows word people the value of visualizing the story, gathering information for graphic reporting and communicating with picture people.
Perhaps staff members don’t submit photo requests to the photo editor because they don’t know what the story is. In helping the word people visualize the story, we help them defining it. This allow them convey the story in terms picture people understand because unlike word people, picture people already think visually.
When it comes to layout and design staff members can find great examples in the trade papers we receive from other colleges. Staff members can also explore the website for the Society for News Design. This professional journalism organization, offers tips, a listserve, award-winning designs, and an Ask a Designer email submission form. SND also offers student memberships.
Looking at trade papers, we notice a common mistakes shared by the collegiate press. The biggest being that campus papers choose between style and substance. Sadly, this mistake follows the newsroom all year.
A combined approach to narrative storytelling and visual thinking will lead us away from that trap and we'll draw readers and critics into our print and online editions.