The Power of Visual Storytelling in News Media

By: Rachel Bonello

The ways in which we tell a story have changed drastically in the last few decades. Perhaps the best journalism evolution today is the ability to leverage more visually appealing ways to express the magnitude of a story.

Technology such as drone footage, time-lapse videos, 3D photographs and social media snapshots allow us to convey more emotion, drama and detail to bring a story to life. As opposed to relying on words alone, we have so many resources at our fingertips to go one step beyond that and give readers a glimpse into the visual (and sometimes risky) world of impactful storytelling.

My colleague shared a story from the Washington Post that gave me the inspiration to write this blog post. While it isn’t the most recent example of visual storytelling, I think it’s the best in recent memory.

This article made a significant impact on how I personally perceived the extremity of the California wildfires—not to mention, shed a light on the gut-wrenching reporting happening on the ground during such a devastating and dangerous natural disaster.

Below are five great examples showing off the evolution of visual story telling:

  1. Drone Coverage by CNN: Drone footage is a great news tool for its sheer capability of covering a lot of ground in a short amount of time. This video by CNN shows the vast devastation of Cyclone Idai that hit Mozambique in South Africa last month. It really gives the reader a sense of just how much that civilization was disrupted by the storm.
  2. Fire Photojournalist Album by National Geographic: Photojournalists like Stuart Palley solely rely on a collection of breathtaking photos to tell an impactful story. In this case, a picture really is worth 1,000 words.
  3. Social Media Reactions: This report from ABC News provides some of the most gut-wrenching reactions from world leaders regarding the Notre Dame Cathedral fire in Paris. Adding real social media comments helped provide an uncensored and raw human element to the story.
  4. Time Lapse Video Footage on The News & Observer: Combining time lapse footage by videographer Jerrold Fernandes created a strong visual story around a North Carolina teacher’s march for better pay and funding for public schools.

Do you have any great visual storytelling examples to share? Drop a comment below!