Shortly after the ranks of LA Times graphics designers were thinned by the layoffs of several veterans, the paper created the position of "director of data visualization" and hired Len DeGroot from UC Berkeley to run the department. The other shoe fell Friday in the form of a memo from DeGroot informing the newsroom that from now on, requests to create digital graphics for the Times website will have priority over graphics for the print newspaper. "Digital first" is the catch phrase — and the lede if you are still a paying customer of the Times. It's in among the revised procedures for requesting graphics. Producing more and better web graphics is essential for the Times, but the memo signals yet another incremental but real reduction in how much the Times values those who buy the paper compared to the eyeballs of teenagers in Latvia or anyone else who can be induced to click on a couple of pages of LATimes.com.
From: DeGroot, Len
Sent: Friday, July 26, 2013 3:31 PM
Subject: New graphics request procedures
The evolution of the art department into a new, digital-first entity will require some changes in how we manage our resources.
As the staff takes a more active role in brainstorming and developing opportunities for digital storytelling, fewer print graphics will be produced.
Starting Monday, the graphics request process will mirror the photo request process. With the exception of breaking news, a request form must be filled out in NewsGate by a reporter or editor before a graphic will be considered. We will require the following information:
• Reporter (or the primary contact)
• What you want the graphic to achieve
The final entry is the most important. Please tell us the goal of the graphic and what information or data you can provide. We'll get back to you with suggestions.
Instructions are attached.
And feel free to call or swing by and talk before submitting a request. Frequently, a five-minute brainstorming session will result in a better, more informative graphic.
This new process will allow me to track all requests and prioritize our production. Thanks in advance for your help.
Len De Groot
Director, Data Visualization