#SNDSF speaker Mariana Santos on immersive journalism

MarianaSantos_pic4Mariana Santos, Director of Interactive and Animation at Fusion, will speak at the upcoming SND Annual Workshop & Exhibition in San Francisco. Mariana champions a multi-disciplinary approach to storytelling. She recently organized a summit on the refugee crisis sponsored by Fusion and Univision, the 19 Million Project, attended by editors, reporters, designers and developers, and she founded Chicas Poderosas, a digital training community to bring more women journalists to technology in media.

Tell me about your position as Director of Interactive and Animation at Fusion. For those that aren’t familiar with Fusion’s work, can you share a bit of background on the work you’re doing across digital and social?

Fusion is a venture between Univison and Disney/ABC with the goal to speak to the under represented minorities. We aim to engage communities, especially targeting millennials, in order to provide a higher reader engagement in these topics as well as provide a testing platform for the parent companies to reach out this ever growing younger audience. Trying to move from the classic and now old-fashioned media style into some more agile and immersive journalism that happens to be stronger online. In terms of social media, this is where Fusion is stronger, having a huge impact and huge community on Snapchat Discover, Facebook and all the different Instagram accounts.

Your team is made up of designers, developers and artists. What is your brainstorming process like?

In the best case scenarios, we would get together developers, designers and the editorial team to come up with creative and meaningful solutions for the stories we want to tell. So hopefully we would have the chance to kick start each project in team.


What are the biggest design challenges your team encounter when working across platforms?

Right now responsive design is a must have, and is not even in question. We design for mobile first and we extend it to all the other platforms. In terms of challenges, they come when we want to do something very sophisticated that does not fit into the browser capabilities and we have to create an outstanding app – this does not work so well, per the amount of investment we ask our users to make: download the app, wait for it to load, consume. We want to make each and every experience the smoothest possible, and with the least effort from the users, both in terms of downloading, and in terms of making stories as easy to consume as possible, following the golden rule of UX – Don’t make me think.

What opportunities for innovation in design and news are you excited about?

I believe media is shifting so much, that I am excited to be on the edge of this turning point, where we can reinvent what’s right and collaborate across disciplines and skills. I love working in collaboration with other professionals who share the same passion for innovation and originality I have.

Where do you look for inspiration for future projects?

I still love the Guardian, New York Times and The Film Board of Canada. Then in terms of visual innovation I look for brands, advertisement and special awards pages to see what else is being done in the digital world that doesn’t necessarily have to do with media.

Like cool people and great design? We’ll be profiling #SNDSF speakers all month. And follow the hashtag #SNDSF on twitter for more updates. To register for the workshop, which runs April 7-9 in San Francisco, click here. Space will be limited.

About Courtney Kan

is a designer at The Washington Post and the editor of SND.org.

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