How to Become a Visual Journalist

May 30, 2014

How to Become a Visual JournalistThe demand for news to include a visual element has increased with our use of technology. We want information quickly, so visual journalists who can create exciting and interactive graphics that are fast and easy to consume, yet still get the story across, are a growing priority. Even the most seasoned writers must now consider the dynamic field of visual journalism.

Media employees wear multiple hats, and print journalists are now expected to create visuals to satisfy a Web-based readership. Here are a few tips on how to become a visual journalist if you have a background in journalism.

Assess Your Goals

The main difference between a journalist and a visual journalist is that while the former writes the news and visual journalists “capture” it through photography, illustrations, graphics and animation. Print journalism requires a complex understanding of the written word, but visual journalism demands a much higher focus on expressing information more quickly and more dynamically.

Even if you’re a veteran of the field, it’s easier than ever to shift in a new direction. But first, think about your goals. Do you want to continue writing and reporting, but fill out your toolkit with visual capabilities? Or do you want to dismiss writing entirely and create images? Where do you want to end up in five or 10 years?

Take Multimedia Courses

If you’re a current print journalism student, you’ve been introduced to the visual journalism coursework. If you’re an existing print journalist, you’ve been exposed to them through your day-to-day activities, but you may need to get some formal training under your belt to show your employers that you are taking this shift in news delivery seriously. Studying photojournalism, videography, audio engineering and design can really complement your skills. Visual journalism students produce a large body of work centered on photographs, Web design and multimedia packages that can be used in their portfolios. An accredited visual journalism program consisting of a wide range of multimedia courses can help you make a successful transition.

Solidify Your Career With an Internship

You won’t be able to jump right into a position without some experience behind you. If you’re currently working, ask your employer if you can take on some visual elements of future stories. If needs are low or you’re unemployed, consider a visual journalism internship. A good internship provides valuable recommendations that give you a comprehensive look into your new profession.

Journalism and visual journalism have the same goals, and they both require a good nose for a story; it’s just the delivery that is different. As visual elements continue to define the way we access the news, now is the perfect time to shift your career into this exciting field.

Photo source: Flickr