Design and Production : Why It’s Crucial To Journalism

I’ve been taking a class this semester that focuses on design and production. Kinda strange for a professional writing program, right? Not really. I thought that too until I started investigating how writing – news, literature, business, academic, all kinds – is presented to us on a daily basis. Rarely ever do we see writing in just a lump of words on a paper. Design almost ALWAYS accompanies it.

I’ll admit, I’m not too brilliant at designing things. I can turn out a great photo story or written piece, but ask me to create a logo or an original publication design and I’m like a kindergartner with a box of crayons. The class I’m in currently teaches me Photoshop basics (which I’m already familiar with) and a heavy emphasis on InDesign. The InDesign education is so crucial. I’ve recently started producing and writing company newsletters in addition to photojournalism work. It may not sound exciting but to be honest, it’s a lot of fun and I enjoy being able to self-produce an entire project; photos, words, layout and design.

I came into this class by accident. I was originally in multimedia journalism but once I found out that I couldn’t get credit for the class due to it being too similar to my undergrad degree I was put in this class.

Here’s a few examples of what I’ve been doing in that class. Easy stuff but not stuff I get to utilize in my photojournalism work since a lot of Photoshop’s cool features are off limits (obviously). It was fun to play around a bit! This is my still life assignment, a type of photography that I’m not that great at nor do I really enjoy it much. First image is straight from the camera.

Camera bag flat lay, raw image, straight from the camera.

Camera bag flat lay, raw image, straight from the camera.

Flat lay, retouched.

Flat lay, retouched.

Flat lay, manipulated

Flat lay, manipulated

Flat lay, filtered.

Flat lay, filtered.

Flat Lay black and white

Flat Lay black and white

After this project we learned how to lay out a page in InDesign. I just pretended I was making a photo magazine feature article. I think it came out ok, I might look at this in a few weeks and cringe, you know know, but for now I’m fine with it.

samplepagedesign

I guess the point I’m trying to get across in this post is that if you’re a journalist or a professional writer, take a class like this. The added skill will open so many doors for you. In the age of “backpack” journalism, you have to do everything; photo, video, writing, interviewing, audio. You might not think of design as something immediate as a journalist who is trying to get an assignment covered, but if you keep design in mind when you’re writing or photographing it can really streamline things in production. Think of it like shooting vertically or horizontally or writing in a way that will aesthetically please the reader. Humans are visual creatures – if you were to read a page which would you rather read, a page that is full of words or a page that has clean breaks between paragraphs, drop quotes, and a set design?

Look for more occasional posts following me on my design journey. Hopefully no more tears will be shed at the expense of InDesign now that I know how to easily do the basic stuff. Any of you out there designers? Helpful tips and advice would be appreciated!

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