Textual & Visual Media

Revista de la Sociedad española de periodistica

Spanish journalistic society journal

Published online - "The role of a visualist: Transforming stories in a newsroom"


5. Conclusions

To conclude, I return to the question with which I began to discuss – how visualists undertake the role of transforming stories in online journalism. Deuze has called media life as “liquid” modern times, as media professionals employed in journalism embody in their workflow all the themes of social, cultural and technological changes nowadays (2007). Visualization landscape is more than simply a multimodal shift. Multimodality in news web site embodies in visualists’ workflow the considerations of media convergence (Dupagne & Garrison, 2006). It alters the relationship between existing technologies, genres and cultures, let alone the news practitioners’ workflow and professional ideology. The situation facilitates our understandings of visualists’ role in news production team dynamics.

Visualization in news web sites is essentially inquiring a visual lifting. Meanwhile, it implies a reconsideration of how design practitioners balance creativity and intentionality in news narration, not only about new media but also about the newsroom professional culture. For example, layouter’s work, one specification in visual journalism, is apparently getting converged into newsroom culture. For in-house HS layouters, there is an increasing dependence on CCI Layout Champ[1] (a desktop publishing software), which is a sophisticated layout design package for an efficient content management with convenient use. Despite of some customized services in-house, media formats and visualization is generally standardized to accommodate a fixed system. One consequence of the dependence on this program is limited and even gradual elimination of layouters’ creativity. Yet it explores the possibility of engaging collective inputs from the news production team, where journalists’ work is co-involved in the production process.

The implications of the consequences of multi-faceted team dynamics are embodied in three levels from a meta-context perspective, the physical proximity in a case study and their practices in professional culture. The factors investigated in this article (Figure 1) may predict how design practitioners’ creative disposal works in a meta-context, especially when multiple endeavors are accountable in newsroom convergence. An introduction to how meaning and significance with new media are shaped in layered communication therefore invites a way of understanding how to realize visual lifting in news web sites. In this case, visualization benefits from the convergent news production operation that rarely exist when visual journalists were housed in separate locations in the newsroom and work sparsely. Their co-involvement endeavors in visualization production result from the roles both in a social context and in the newsroom. Therefore, the findings show that visualists’ work in professional culture in this particular newsroom has been changing. Their role in HS newsroom was reshaped to a great extent by a need to adapt themselves into the current re-structuring newsroom.

This article should be considered to be preliminary, as the research findings I present here are still part of the results of my ethnographic research conducted in Helsingin Sanomat newsroom. It is within the design department that I have obtained the understandings of synergy among different visual production desks. The number of players in the field has increased and their relations have become increasingly complicated to define and observe. The construction of visualists’ workflow in the newsroom through redefinition and reconsideration is an ongoing process. The investigation of visual journalists’ role indicates that it is valuable to think of news web site visualization not as a simple accumulation, but rather as reconstituting the way of news transformation. Visual production of online journalism is a platform with multi-faceted endeavors from the visual production team. Not only are different mediated inputs simultaneously collaborative in online news, but also they acquire co-involvement through visual journalists’ efforts in the production process.



The author thanks the visual journalists in Design Department of Helsingin Sanomat for their support on the ethnographic research in this article. This work is supported by a State Scholarship Fund organized by the China Scholarship Council (CSC), which is a non-profit institution affiliated with the Ministry of Education of the P. R. China.

[1] The CCI program allows journalists, editors, layouters and graphic designers to work on content at the same time.

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