Illustrated journalism comes of age

Get read, shared & revisited with graphic storytelling

When Campus Progress ran “An Education in For-Profit Education,” Susie Cagle’s graphic story on education finance, the piece:

  • Was featured on the front page of The Huffington Post
  • Was picked up by LifeHacker
  • Got more than 4,000 Facebook shares and likes
  • Garnered more than 700 tweets
  • Received more than 800 comments

The article remains one of Campus Progress’ most popular stories of all time.

NOW I SEE This graphic story on education finance remains one of Campus Progress’ most popular stories of all time.

No wonder illustrated journalism has come of age, says Erin Polgreen, founder of Symbolia, a tablet magazine of illustrated journalism. She recently presented a News University webinar on the topic for the Poynter Institute.

Want to spread the word? Try graphic storytelling, aka illustrated journalism or comics journalism.

What is illustrated journalism?

Illustrated journalism integrates comics and hand illustration with traditional journalism, Polgreen says.

SHOW ME A STORY Full-length graphic novels, like Art Spiegelman’s Maus, gave illustrated journalism a boost.

The form goes back to the days of Japanese scrolls, stained glass windows, Trajan’s Column, the Bayeaux Tapestry and Egyptian wall paintings of 1300 BC.

But illustrated journalism has gotten a boost in recent years from Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis — long-form graphic nonfiction stories about the Holocaust and Iran.

Now graphic storytelling is hot.

Why illustrated journalism?

Illustrated journalism, Polgreen says, helps you:

Get read. The Rumpus published “Meanwhile: The San Francisco Public Library,” Wendy MacNaughton’s graphic story about the San Francisco Public Library, on a Friday. Within two days, it had brought in 18,000 visitors.

“It can almost trick people into reading about something that they wouldn’t normally read,” says Sarah Glidden, author of the graphic novel “How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less.” “Iraqi refugees are the most unsexy thing, but if you make a comic that’s pretty, people will read it … become connected to it and maybe be engaged on a deeper level in the future.”

Maus creator Spiegelman agrees.

“Comics are for re-reading, not reading,” he says. “They’re harder not to read.”

Want to increase readership and traffic? Try comics journalism.

Go viral. Within two days, The Rumpus library story had received 500 tweets and 2,500 Facebook “likes.”

One reason: Readers are more likely to share multimedia than text-only pieces.

Want your story to get shared on social sites like Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr? Make it a graphic story.

Get published. The San Francisco mayor’s office later published the Rumpus piece as a graphic novel.

Graphic stories are more likely to get coverage than plain old text. That’s because images dictate coverage for 41% of journalists. (And they’re important to 90%.) As PR pros work to include more visuals in their releases, pitches and posts, graphic stories make a refreshing alternative to boring talking-head videos.

Generate reader response. After Jen Sorenson developed a graphic story on Whitefish, Mont., for The Oregonian, she says, “I must have heard from every single person from Montana who had ever relocated to Oregon, some of whom had been students of the park ranger I’d included in the comic.”

Want to start a conversation? Try graphic storytelling.

Engage readers. Illustrated journalism is immersive, experiential and easy to read, Polgreen says. It humanizes complicated stories and says more in one image than an essay could in 10,000 words.

“Comics journalism narratives are able to translate a depth of empathy and emotion that traditional news typically can’t (or won’t),” says Darryl Holliday, author of the illustrated journalism piece “Wedlock: Love and Marriage at the Cook County Jail.”

Make the most of new media vehicles. Illustrated journalism looks great on tablets, Polgreen says. Check out 2010 Knight Fellow Dan Archer’s “The Honduran Coup: A Graphic History” — soon to be an iPad app.

THEY LIKE IT LIKE THAT Within two days of appearing in Rumpus, Wendy MacNaughton’s graphic story “Meanwhile: The San Francisco Public Library” received 18,000 visitors, 500 tweets and 2,500 Facebook likes.

Give illustrated journalism a go.

Illustrated journalism, Polgreen says, is fresh and engaging, works with many genres and is being used successfully by major media outlets.

Why not get your story out with graphic storytelling?


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        1. […] to be told without having to read long articles or stories, simplifying the reading experience. Erin Polgreen, the founder of Symbolia believes that the appeal of Illustrated Journalism is tied to the way it […]

        2. […] journalism comes of age. Recuperado el 10 de julio de 2016, de Wylie Communications Inc., -Periodismo infográfico (s.f.). En Wikipedia. Recuperado el 10 de julio de 2016, […]

        3. […] wanted her comics to ‘last longer’ or have a ’deeper impact’. She also introduced the term: Illustrated Journalism, which might offer new posibilities for illustrators.  It was also nice to listen to Paul […]

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