Newseful is a series of explorations around the development of generic, repeatable formats for breaking news design.The past several years have seen enormous progress in digital journalism. However, much of the energy in the field has focused on long form journalism, while the experience of breaking news lags.The development of interactive features takes time and planning. Custom or semi-custom solutions for individual stories work well with a discrete range of information. Breaking news is inherently different in its immediacy. Events are reported as they happen, leaving little room for the flair and voice found in long form reporting. Little time has been put into the establishment of repeatable patterns that elevate the experience of developing stories. Given the urgency and uncertainty of these stories, there exists a real opportunity for design to contribute to this field.Newseful is comprised of three open-source web components: a timeline, an annotation tool, and a fact status tool. The project aims to serve as proof of concept for useful patterns that can be copied, built upon, and transformed into real utilities for the display of breaking news.Rather than trying to impose overly specific formulae and complex systemic formats, Newseful hopes to provide a system of flexible tools that better highlight the work of the reporter in a breaking news scenario. As much as possible, editorial discretion is left to the reporter; the tools themselves attempt to be useful and flexible bridges between reportage and design without being prescriptive in how and when they should be implemented.
1. Don’t worry about wasting time exploring tangentially related concepts. Even if you don’t end up using the results, they will help you frame your project.
2. If you’re learning a technology or technique you’ve never tried before as part of your project, don’t underestimate how much time it will take to get used to it.
3. If you pick a topic that has lots of writing and public discourse around it already, you can always go back to researching if you get stuck.
Kevin is currently a designer at the New York Times in New York.
See more of his work at kevinzweerink.com.