Graphics In Print Media

by Varghese Kallada
(vkallada@hotmail.com)

In a fast changing world of information tecnology, the existence of print media would have been in danger, as it was feared that it would be overtaken by the television and the Internet.

But the increase in readership of many quality newspapers and magazines prove that the print media will always have a major role in everyday life of a person who wants to be well informed.

Easy accessibility, affordability, portability and above all, the authenticity of information makes print media so essential to the audience without any discrimination on economic standands.

In a run for competition, it has become necessary for the publisher to be alive to the growing expectations of a reader. It is a widely acknowledged fact that the reader wants to go through the newspaper without strain, and expects a wide spectrum of news presented in an enjoyable style, that encompassed a visually impressive and crisp format.

A lengthy story of an interesting topic and a high journalistic standard may go unread by readers because of its bad presentation. But a story that deals with a topic which is not that serious may generate interest in the readers by presenting it graphically well.

A graphic designer has a major role in the making of a good newspaper or magazine. Apart from its overall looks, an information graphic designer uses his visual skills to make the news an attractive presentation. The concept of using artists as reporters existed in many newspapers before photo journalism arrived.

A reporter's on-site reconstruction of the incident in words may be better understood by the readers with visual support. Though photographs obviously can serve the purpose in a very effective way, nothing like translating the events into sequential graphics.

An infographist (as an information graphic artist is popularly known) uses a combination of skills and materials. He reconstructs a scene in a graphic form. He needs the help of specially-briefed reporters. With the information provided coupled with his artistic and journalistic skills, a new form of communication takes shape.

In many situations, graphics provide more information in the given space than words alone can. A tiny illustration or sketch can sometimes be more effective and communicative than words. A general tendency as is seen in many publications is that graphics are used as ornamental visuals to stories. An average reader will definitely have the capacity to understand that a long story presented with such gimmicks is not worth reading. For him, the graphic should be informative and useful. It should not be there on the page just for the sake of having a visual.

An infographist should think like a journalist. Though drawing skills are essential, every artist cannot become an infographist. There should be a combination of journalistic and visual communication skills. He should have a perspective of wide aspects of life and not just design. He needs to be committed to his job with boundless enthusiasm.

Visual presentation of an event would not only make for an attractive presentation of the story but also enhance the overall design of the page. Here too, an infographist can play a role in deciding on page layouts that afford easy readability which would lend itself well to the reader.

As such, an infographist and designer are as much an integral part of a publication as the other arms of print media. In the modern day situation where brevity in terms of constraints on time prevails, it is essential to offer the reader a choice. A well-thought illustration, for instance, can convey the essence of the story while offering the reader the option of either browing through the entire report or merely capturing the essence of it by just taking in the illustration.

Under the circumstances, the designers are a definite value addition to a publication and have a significant role to play in lending it class and stature which distinguish the best from the rest.

Journalism Online