‘Every Minute Counts’ in Kat Downs’ World

It was full house for “Doing It On Deadline,” with Kat Downs, graphics director at The Washington Post, telling the crowd, “Have fun with news. . . the options are limitless.”

She said in an interview after her talk that she takes inspiration from  her husband, who “comes up with interesting,  random ideas, which never come up in a newsroom.”


With more than five years of work experience at The Post,  she shared some of her graphics and design lessons:

• Publish quickly: “Every minute counts.”

 Iterate constantly: “People want to see what is next.”

• Stay coordinated: “Maintain a single source of truth.”

• Make interaction meaningful: “… not just filters and slides. . . it should add meaning.”

• Humanize the story: “People want to know about other people and situations.”

• Report: “Dig up new information rather than contributing to an echo chamber. . . pick up the phone and call people to verify data.”

• Ask yourself, “What do I want to know? Readers aren’t so different from us,”  as in this Ebola graphic.

• Know your headline: “Graphics need a simple, strong message. . . say something, and say it clearly.”

• Keep reporting: “Readers understand that stories help them evolve. . . help them understand how and why.”

• Think like a blogger: “Small can be mighty.”