Four Examples of Visual Journalism You See Every Day
May 30, 2014 •
If you asked people for an example of journalism, they might point you toward a news article or television program. But, if you specifically asked them for examples of visual journalism, they might be a little stumped. In fact, they might not even know what it is.
Visual journalism is a subset of journalism that combines words with images to create works of nonfiction multimedia storytelling that communicate to the public what is happening in the world.
Sound familiar? Chances are good that you’ve come into contact with the following types of visual journalism recently, and you might not have even noticed it.
Documentaries are one of the best examples of visual journalism, simply because they are so prevalent. With popular documentaries such as “Blackfish” and “Gasland” broadcasting on networks such as CNN and HBO, this type of visual journalism has unprecedented reach.
Infographics are a stylish way visual journalists help viewers understand a complicated subject that involves a lot of numbers or statistics. Visual journalists can create engaging content on typically dry subjects such as politics or finance by using a number of design techniques and layouts to convey information in an easy-to-read way. According to Consumer Magnetism, infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than traditional articles, which makes them a great way for visual journalists to attract attention to lesser-known issues.
You can thank the meteoric success of BuzzFeed for this one. Though the term “listicle” (an amalgamation of the terms list and article) is fairly new, the idea behind informative content that uses lists and graphics has been around for years. Though BuzzFeed certainly pioneered the use of animated GIFs in listicles (and deserves some credit for bringing hard news listicles to the masses), the format is more than its source, and big names such as CNN have been growing the reach of this newly popular format.
Social Media Posts
When you see a post on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr, you probably don’t think you’re seeing a form of visual journalism. However, when meteorologists live-tweet a storm with pictures and status updates, they are engaging in visual journalism. When journalists tweet photos and create Vine videos of a government demonstration, that is visual journalism, too. Though these bite-sized updates might not tell large stories on their own, online apps such as Storify help journalists turn their updates into pieces of a puzzle that can be combined to give viewers a “ground-floor” perception of breaking news stories as they happen.
Visual journalism has experienced tremendous growth and change over the past decade. Though visual journalists used to tell stories exclusively through film and photography, the Internet and social media have given them a whole new way to get their stories out to the masses.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons