Journalism Interactive 2013

I attended the Journalism Interactive conference this past weekend at the Hippodrome in downtown Gainesville. Despite the fact that journalists and pr practitioners occupy specific camps, the conference introduced me to some great new ideas and concepts relative to all those in mass communications. The content focused on data, design, mobile and participation.


Alberto Cairo gave an amazing presentation on The Functional Art: Design and Infographics. What I took away from the presentation was the idea that infographics should clarify, not simplify. Cairo defined an infographic as a “visual representation of evidence, a tool for analysis, communication, and understanding.” He then illustrated the idea that an infographic is not just numbers with cute graphics, but should show trends, with form related to probable function. Cairo’s software recommendation for rookie infographic designers is Tableau.

I also came away with a bunch of new books to check out: Cairo’s The Functional Art, Bad Science, The Invisible Gorilla and Naked Statistics.

Eye Tracking Studies

Sara Quinn of the Poynter Institute and her colleagues presented the findings of their most recent eye tracking study, done on an Apple iPad. Most relevant to visual communication was the finding that people tend to enter a screen via a dominant element, generally a photograph, and that faces in a photograph attracted the most attention. I encourage you to read Quinn’s synopsis of the findings.

Social Media Branding

Lynn Walsh’s presentation, “Branding When You’re Brand New,” was incredibly insightful. Walsh is a freelance investigative reporter and blogger for the Radio Television Digital News Association and Chair of the Professional Journalists’ Generation J Committee.

She’s a pinner, a tweeter, and a Facebooker. She discussed strategies for repetition of images, tone of voice, and content across a variety of platforms. She also elaborated on Twitter strategies, from using lists to keep up with people (without having to follow them) to using hashtags to find out what’s trending in a certain location. And don’t forget to tweet at relevant players in your posts: their followers will see them!

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