How a graphic can make a big story digestable

Do me a favor and look at this graphic twice. First just glance at it until you find your interest wandering.

Now go back and really study it. Read all of the information that is in there. Consider how that has to be calculated, as a city-wide sort of thing. Consider how you might try to make something of that scale fit into an image and a minimal number of statistics.

Pretty good, huh?

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A quick graphic observation

There’s something elegant about the simple beauty of a quick graphic. And the craft of it suits our current media consumption habits. A nice image or other aesthetic that pleases the eye, and the quick, pertinent data points.

It works best if they are factoids, more-than-trivia bits. So the challenge is getting the most important points, so that we don’t bog down our audience. Give them the parts they really need.

“But Kenny,” you’ll say, “the audience needs more than one number or figure!”

And you are so right. So think promotional. Make more than one graphic. Recirculate the story. Write different appeals from those varied graphics to get to your story.

Creating the story visual

If you’ve ever been a photographer or a videographer on assignment you’ve faced the challenge of bringing images to a story that doesn’t always lend itself to visual storytelling. It can be a tough one. But Wyste Vellinga is here with advice via example:

It is one of the best things of working with a mobile phone. You can be as creative as you want to be. First of all, because it takes no time at all. You can make a lot of different shots in just a few minutes. Even on the road. I went for a mirror shot, a hyperlapse shot, close ups and of course the speed camera. In making these shots you can also take advantage of the size of the camera. Some of the shots in the driving sequence could not have been done with a regular camera.

What your peers are doing

(And what you’re certainly more than capable of doing … )

Storybench

Crowdsourcing maps of ISIS and other Middle East conflicts

Thomas van Linge recently tweeted a photo of a munitions truck being blown up in Syria, presumably by the First Coastal Division, a faction of rebels affiliated with the Free Syrian Army. In his tweet, which was sent to his more than 13,000 followers, van Linge linked to a YouTube video of the explosion, and included its location: “near Joureen, Ghab plain.” He then cross-referenced the location with a home-made map to make sure he had the most up-to-date movements of the Syrian rebels.

No, Thomas van Linge does not work for the U.S. State Department and he’s not a journalist. He’s a 19-year-old high school student in Amsterdam and he’s joining a growing movement of citizen cartographers mapping violence in the Middle East. It’s an endeavor few media outlets have replicated as consistently as van Linge and his cohorts