A quick break for coffee, following Eleanor Lutz’s inspiring talk, and the Malofiej23 activities continued with Feilding Cage‘s keynote. Currently a London-based special projects editor for Guardian Visuals, he has produced over the past three years, visual and interactive content for some of The Guardian’s top stories, including the NSA files, US elections and gay rights.
Feilding graduated from the School of Journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill and completed a master’s degree in graphic communication management from NYU. Before The Guardian, he led interactive projects at the Associated Press and Time magazine, and his work has been recognized by the Emmy awards, the Pulitzer Prize for public service, World Press Photo and, of course, Malofiej.
His presentation at Malofiej23, titled “Eat dessert first”, was focused on online visuals, since he doesn’t have much experience so far in print – except for some occasional discussions about how to adapt their interactive to the newspaper’s pages.
But the “eat dessert first” message was actually about going straight to the point in visualizations (the “dessert”), skipping the unpleasant “meal” that you usually have to eat before you get there – and that can be applied to both online and print graphics. That really requires not only top-notch research and editing efforts, but an overall environment where the graphics department is much more than a service desk, whose job is to simply take information from a reporter and make it pretty.
And in a time when it’s so easy to download data from the Census and just present it, without thinking of engagement, this really makes sense. Cage puts a lot of emphasis on the fact that, if the text just summarizes the visuals – or vice versa -, they both lose value.
Another major point is that the team thinks a lot about the tools that could save them time and effort, and then try to create them. Among those tools you can find Rich Harris‘ ractivejs.org, and Andrew Mason’s project that allows anybody to edit copy of graphics.
Here are The Guardian’s projects Cage talked about during his presentation (click through the images to explore the interactive versions):
NSA Files: Decoded
Gay rights in the US, state by state
Are you reflected in the new Congress
Election 2015: The Guardian poll projection
Besides the works by The Guardian, Cage also mentioned one of The La Times’ latest interactive map (featured here), as a good example of a personal and shareable project that engages the audience. This was a major question raised throughout his presentation, the level of engagement as a measure of quality, and even success, of an interactive project.