Doing It On Deadline (or, 22 Lessons From Covering the News)

A great news graphics team is a well-oiled machine. When news breaks, we respond. Efficient, established procedures and clearly defined roles allow us to create visual stories within minutes and hours of an event. That timetable for turning around maps, visualizations and illustrations presents myriad challenges. It can create some of our best work, or quickly expose any rough patches in the process (or both!). I’ll share lessons we’ve learned about how to cover the news in smart and effective ways through examples of recent events.

Kat Downs

Graphics Director, The Washington Post


Kat Downs is the Graphics Director at The Washington Post. She leads a team of designers, developers, reporters and illustrators that create visual stories, including visualizations, databases and multimedia projects. She has taught design and development at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and Georgetown University. Before joining The Post in 2008, she worked at The Baltimore Sun. The youngest of seven girls, she grew up in Franklin, a small town in western North Carolina. She studied visual communication at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her work has been honored by the Peabody Awards, the Society for News Design, the Online Journalism Awards and the Malofiej International Infographics Awards.