By Rob Denton
Educators brought a wealth of experience and knowledge to a panel on visual communications Thursday morning at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference.
The 10-person panel was made up primarily of magazine and online teachers from across the nation and touched on topics including the need for coding in journalism and story idea generation.
The top four highlights:
1. Eye-tracking research yields surprising results
Poynter’s Sara Quinn kicked off the session with statistics from her eye-tracking research. Viewers often read more online than in print, people like to see documentary photos and will often disregard posed images, she said.
One of the most interesting facts that she shared was that 78 seconds is the average “bail out” point of a reader. Meaning, if someone is not going to read the whole story, they are likely to bail out after about 78 seconds.
2. If you want to produce visuals for data, you have to know coding
Mindy McAdams, an online journalism professor from the University of Florida, said that visual journalists need to understand database journalism and basic coding.
“You can’t produce data journalism without visuals to help the audience understand. And you can’t make visuals without people who understand data,” she said.
3. Story ideas don’t come easy, but they can be more fun
Lori Tharps, from Temple University, said that she often sees students who have trouble coming up with story ideas. She said that story generation is something that can practiced and suggested instructors play games to get their students thinking.
4. Students need to get pumped up.
Sam Riley of Virginia Tech finished off the panel by discussing student confidence. Riley said that a small boost of student confidence is sometimes needed to encourage students to take on important and meaningful magazine stories. He does this by posting good student-written stories, dating back to the mid 1980s, to a blog, which current students read.