Friday, September 23, 2016

Empower the graphics team in your organization

There was a time when graphics desks at most news organizations were “service” departments. They took “orders” from reporters and editors —the only professionals considered true journalists,— and they didn't participate in decisions related to content. If your company is still organized this way, you must change it right away. It. Just. Doesn't. Work.

There's a very strong and direct relationship between empowered graphics desks and quality of work: The companies that are widely considered leaders in data journalism, visualization, and infographics —think of The New York Times, ProPublica, the Washington Post, etc.— are those that have data and graphics desks that are autonomous, and populated by professionals who are treated and paid as any other journalist in the newsroom, not by second-class citizens who get pushed around by “real” journalists (sarcasm). This is one of those cases where correlation does imply causation. More empowerment > Better quality.

The little rant above is just an excuse to talk about this tweet by Stuart Thompson, graphics director at the Wall Street Journal. He praises Renee Lighter and Colin Barr for this graphics-driven story, pitched and designed by graphics people. I like print stuff, so I've just run to the newsstand to get my copy. I'll post it in class next week for my students to learn. Here it is: