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Wanna become a visual journalist?

A design/visual journalist needs to grasp a story and present it in the best fashion to aid reading and navigation. Do you fit the bill? Read on to know more about the career.

education Updated: Sep 22, 2011 10:55 IST

The lowdown
A design/visual journalist needs to grasp a story and present it in the best fashion to aid reading and navigation, using images, graphs, charts, illustrations/caricatures or a virtual salad of these. These can be used as value-additions to articles that have very little text. Or, it can be a standalone infographic requiring no article to support it

Clock Work
People play different roles in a newspaper. Work schedules in the political or business news section are different from that in the lifestyle section. A designer’s shift could go like this:
2pm: Reach office. Check articles given by editorial for graphics/ charts. Discuss design ideas for these with the reporter/ editorial coordinator
2.30pm: Get pictures from the editorial coordinator/ photo section/ photo library/ agency. Select images. Start making draft infographics for a hospital survey and pie chart for a
business report
5.30pm: Tea break
6pm: Show draft infographic and pie chart to reporters/ editorial coordinators and/ or design team boss
7pm: Make the final pages.
Send pictures for colour correction to the quality department
10.30pm: Release the pages. Leave for home

The payoff
An apprentice with a reputable media house may get a stipend of Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 per month. Do not be surprised if it has a no-payment policy, but do insist on a certificate when you complete your internship. After that, a trainee (some companies absorb summer interns) in a top media house may expect Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 a month.

As a visualiser, the package could be Rs 20,000 a month. From here on, the compensation depends on performance and contract. An art director makes more than Rs1 lakh a month

Skills/Traits
.
Ability to assimilate information quickly and conceptualise
. News sense to understand what is to be highlighted
. Drawing skills for making infographics and illustrations
. Good at team work and coordination
. Ability to master computer applications quickly

Getting there
You can opt for any subject combination in Class 12, though fine art, and social sciences are preferable. (The Central Board of Secondary Education offers graphic design to senior school students.) After that, get a degree in fine arts/design in India or do a visual journalism course abroad. Many private institutes also provide the relevant training in
various software

Institutes and URLs
.
College of Art, Delhi
http://www.colart.delhigovt.nic.in/
. National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad
www.xaviercomm.org
. Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi
www.jmi.nic.in
. Sir JJ School of Art and Sir JJ School of Applied Art, Mumbai
http://www.mu.ac.in/colleges/finearts/mumbai.html
. MS University of Baroda
www.msubaroda.ac.in

Pros and cons
.
Instant results of your efforts
. Intensely competitive — your output will be compared with rival publications
. Prolonged screen exposure causes eye strain