Guide to News Graphics – BBC Academy 2015

I’m Jeremy Vine and I do the graphics for
the BBC’s election programmes and we have
a lot of fun trying to pictoralise the story
on any given night…
VT: Watch their seats come on, watch them
pave the path and this is how they did it.
Firstly and crucially, they held their own
marginal seats like Ipswich and Hendon. The
SNP have had a storming night up 50 seats
on the night and the only problem for them
is they would have thought Labour would end
up with more leverage after this election.
But of course graphics are used across television
news and in this film we’ll look at what
works best.
Graphics are used for three main purposes
– either they give information, or they’re
used to support a narrative or they could
be used for branding a story that you’ve
been following. Either way it’s very important
when you start making a graphic that you’re
clear what it’s for. Let’s start with
Robert Peston: “Funny isn’t it that zeros
noughts are everywhere to be seen. Funnier
still that the falling price of sweets, jam,
energy, eggs and petrol have forced inflation
down to nil”.
Emma Simpson: “Tesco is now paying the price
for years of over expansion. It’s had to
write off nearly 5-billion pounds in property
costs as its stores weren’t worth what they
were, plunging Tesco into the red. At the
tills, it made 467 million pounds in profit
in the UK but that’s still a huge drop on
the previous year”.
Richard Westcott: “The rise means that a
season ticket from Milton Keynes to London
goes up £116 to nearly £4,900. An anytime
single from Bath to Bristol Temple Meads goes
up 10p to £7.40.”
Vicki Young: “The start of the tax year
sees some changes that could affect you. The
person allowance – the amount you can earn
before paying income tax – rises from £10,000
to £10,600.”
You need to provide the designer with a backing
shot, the precise figures or information and
if possible, the script so the designer knows
how long the moves should be. Here are some
more good examples.
Hugh Pym: “Families with children above
a certain income level will be worse off largely
because of tax credit cuts. For example a
loser is a single earner couple with two children
on £25,000 a year – they lose £200 a year.
Winners include a single earner without children
on £25,000 – they gain by £100 a year.”
There are highly creative ways of showing
information. Look at this map of the world…where
the countries have been shaped according to
the amount of CO2 they create.
But you can also use a graphic very effectively
when there are no pictures. Nick Robinson
and his producer wanted to get the idea across
that the government had been considering an
economic ‘Plan B’, despite denying it.
Graphics provided a simple and effective way
of telling that story.
Nick Robinson: “The so called Plan B is
said to include further action by the Bank
of England, extending so called quantative
easing or printing money or making direct
loans to businesses. And much more politically
sensitive, government action. More infrastructure
spending on things like roads and housing
and cutting taxes”.
Watch out how Fergus Walsh uses graphics to
explain scientific and medical developments:
Fergus Walsh: “About 85,000 heart patients
in Britain who have fatty deposits in their
arteries have permanent metal stents – tubular
scaffolds inserted. They’re introduced on
a wire and inflated with a balloon but this
stent is made from a corn-starch polymer.
It releases chemicals to prevent the artery
narrowing and crucially over time, it dissolves
leaving the artery able to flex and move.
Our genetic code is a chemical alphabet of
just four letters A T G and C, repeated six
billion times. Our genes are sections of DNA
which tell cells how to function and decide
things like the colour of our eyes. In everyone
genome there are millions of minute variations
– most are unimportant but some lower or
increase our risk of getting certain diseases.”
And David Shukman uses really imaginative
graphics to show us what the human eye could
never see.
David Shukman: “Exhaust has become massively
cleaner in recent years except for something
you can’t see – microscopic particulates
as they’re called. We’ve asked our graphics
designers to magnify them 100 times – they’d
look something like this. So imagine what
that means beside a really busy road like
this – you can’t see them but these particles
are spilling out and building up. For anyone
living close by the effects can be serious.
The latest research into this hidden pollution
is alarming”.
If you are producing one of these graphics,
you really do need to work as a team with
your designer. Work out what the story is
and exactly how you’re going to tell it.
And the designer may ask you for diagrams,
drawings, measurements and – of course, the script.
So how do you work with your graphics designer
– well don’t go in with a long list of
what you’ve already decided you want because
actually you want to hear what they think
they can do. Now I’m not much good at drawing
but sometimes a little sketch of how you see
it working on the screen is very useful because
the designer can then try and deliver that
for you. Good communication between the two
of you will really pay off.
This is a storyboard – a good producer will
provide one of these for a complicated graphic.
When 33 miners were tapped underground in
Chile for two months, this is how Andrew Harding
explained their escape route.
Andrew Harding: “This is how it should go.
After a medical check-up the first miner will
be strapped into the Phoenix escape capsule
– he’ll then be winched up at no more
than a metre a second, a little slower than
a normal lift – to avoid the risk of decompression.
About 15 minutes later – all being well
– the miner will reach the surface. He’ll
be taken straight to a triage area where a
doctor and two nurses will assess his condition”.
Obviously there weren’t any pictures of
this but the graphic showed the viewer very
clearly how the miners could be brought to
the surface.
When the graphic is complete make sure you
position it in the story very carefully to
get maximum impact and by the way if you’re
editing a programme or strand it’s worth
just thinking about how your graphics are
showcased across the whole programme or across
the hour so you can tell the graphics designers
where to prioritise.
And finally don’t be afraid to experiment
with new ideas or devices because that’s
how you get the best out of your graphics

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