Alternative story forms attract readers

April 5, 2013 By Kaitlyn Klein,University of Kansas Conferences

Newspapers don’t have to die. They have to evolve.

Stephen Komives, executive director of the Society for News Design, spoke at the American Copy Editor’s Society conference April 5. He discussed how newspapers can attract readers and maintain the personality of the news with alternative story forms (ASFs).

Komives said alternative story forms promote effectiveness, emphasis and efficiency.

“God prefers ASFs,” Komives said. He was referring to God’s “top 10” — the 10 Commandments.

When Komives involved the audience in a game of guessing what design readers preferred (based on a Poynter Institute study) a debate occurred about whether news organizations had the time and resources to package alternative story forms.

But Komives asked “who are newspapers serving?” If it’s your readers then you must include ASFs because they prefer them, Komives said.

Komives then moved on to his top 10 alternative story forms:

  1. Lists
  2. Briefings
  3. Key Questions
  4. Essential Data
  5. In their own words
  6. “How-to”s
  7. Timelines
  8. Q&As
  9. Interactive
  10. MegaPages

With each ASF, he provided examples from newspapers around the world. He also explained which format worked best for a particular story.

The common denominator: all forms show the reader what is important and why that information is important quickly and effectively.

“Design is a way for editors to advocate for better storytelling,” Komives said.

Republished from Klein’s blog.

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