Visualization Speaker Series at UMD: "Telling Stories with Compelling Graphics: Visualization on a Deadline"

Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:00 PM

Location: JM Patterson Hall, Room 2121, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742

Speaker: Kat Downs
Graphics Director, The Washington Post

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 talk through our process at The Washington Post and show examples of news graphics we’ve created this year, from the disappearance of Flight 370 to the crises in Iraq, Ukraine and Gaza. We’ll also look at how we’ve come at planned news events with quick turnaround in novel ways through events like the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the Pistorius Trial, and the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

Kat Downs is the graphics director at The Washington Post. Before joining The Post in 2008, she worked at The Baltimore Sun. She leads a team of designers, developers, reporters and illustrators that create visual stories for The Post’s mobile, desktop and print editions. She has taught design at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and Georgetown University. She studied visual communication at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her work has been honored by the Peabody Awards, the Society of Newspaper Design, the Online Journalism Awards, and the Malofiej International Infographics Awards.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, go to