It’s been an absolute pleasure preparing a poster about the Data Journalism Handbook, a free, open source reference book which shows how journalists can use data to improve the news.
Posts Tagged: print
There’s a lot of blog-debate over what’s good and what’s not in the fields of data visualisation, data journalism, storytelling, infographics at the moment. Given it’s a growing field this isn’t hugely surprising, the old hands having their experienced feathers ruffled by faster, cheaper, easier, shallower, stylised mass production for mass consumption. I could have re-posted several treatises on this recently, but if you’re interested you’ll have found and read them anyway.
The net effect of this on me since Christmas is that it’s getting me down: it makes for too much heavy reading at the expense of showcasing good work. I haven’t come across anything I’ve really wanted to post about. Until, that is, …
…Willard C. Brinton’s two primers on the ground rules.
They’ve been around for a long time, but were recently posted on Chart Porn. These gloriously thorough books Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts (1914) and Graphic Presentation (1939) remind me of the underlying reasons I do what I do which is summed up by the 1939 preface’s title Magic in graphs.
The first principles haven’t changed. I’d have liked to meet Willard Cope Brinton.
And this all puts me in mind of someone who’s work I was browsing recently, an example of a modern day practitioner who manages to cut the crap and just get on with doing lovely work: Nicolas Rapp.
Happy New Year!
Being a cyclist I always enjoy the occasions that I do travel on the tube to catch up on the latest posters and artwork on display all around.
Fed up of getting a daily drenching most days so far in 2012 – and needing not to look like a drowned rat for a client meeting – I was presented with an opportunity to take the tube last week and I wasn’t disappointed.
I really liked these:
They’re not infographics, but more and more I find myself talking about telling stories visually, which is exactly what these do.
As an infografista I tend to read copy with a pencil in hand, sketching as I work through it. Then you look back and try to find the common threads to tie it all together which in turn suggest an overarching visual to hang all the component parts from.
These are an elegant case in point. The visuals immediately convey what the copy is going to be about, the copy is short and to the point, and the result is perfect for delivery as a poster.
The alternative: bullets points. I know which I’d rather!
If I had a pound for every time someone’s recommended Bloomberg Business Week recently I’d be £5 better off. Which I could have put towards buying the latest issue of Eye in which Simon Esterson interviews BBW’s creative director Richard Turley. (Of course I bought it anyway.)
Bloomberg Business Week is another magazine that knows when and how to use an infographic. They completely absorb them into the layouts. They are the layout.
How do they do it? Editorial and design staff sit together, they talk, they share. It helps being well resourced too. Richard Turley uses all the words that you hear when people involved with good infographics elaborate on their approach: integration, narration, collaboration as well as strength of ideas.
They seem to have jumped headlong into motion graphics too. Their stated aim is a good one: “It’s one thing to stay up to date with news, data and information. It’s another entirely to dig past the surface, make meaningful connections and generate insights. Let us show you what others miss.” However they’ve still some way to go before cracking this medium in the same way they have done in the magazine. Judge for yourself.
PS It’s rumoured next EDO event is Richard Turley. Watch out for it here.
It’s one thing wanting an infographic and quite another knowing how to use them.
That’s me paraphrasing – and agreeing with – illustrator-cum-infografista Nathalie Lees, someone who knows what makes for a good editorial infographic. Talking at the EDO’s infographic event last Thursday her take on infographics was fresh, inspiring and made good sense.
With a background working on books, magazines and newspapers and talented enough to be able to turn her hand to illustrations or infographics, small or large, conceptual or technical, she was quick to acknowledge the role of the editorial staff in the process.
She listed three reasons as to why editors like infographics: they look good, they can provide a change of pace and they can exist in their own right.
But crucially she also mentioned two other prerequisites for the best results: working with editorial staff who have an appreciation of when and how to use an infographic as well as with a good art director.
I would add another critical factor to the list, that of working with an extremely talented illustrator with the ability to get her head around complex issues.
And when it all comes together you get beautiful results, what I previously (and rather dull-ly) called ‘integrated’ infographics: integrated into the page, into the copy, into the journalism.
This is something I have admired The Times’ monthly scientific supplement Eureka for doing so well. And it turns out Nathalie has worked on lots of them too.
Lots more please!
Who hasn’t done a graphic – or ten – on China in some capacity or other? There are masses out there.
China is exactly where I’m off to imminently (and Hong Kong) and I’m wondering and hoping I’ll see as many graphics in China as there are graphics about China here.
To be continued…