Having worked for Ringier for over 21 years, Priska Wallimann shares with us how the priorities of her newsroom are shifting from print to digital, plus her passion for visual journalism, learning new things and the occasional glass of a good red wine.
How did you find your way into your current role?
I simply followed the “Nike-principle”. Just do it. I started 30 years ago as a lithographer, working for agencies, newspapers and magazines. I then switched to Ringier – the company I’ve worked at now for 21 years. The reason I am still at Ringier; I have always had the opportunity to develop further. From picture tuning to layout, art direction, designing and redesigning newspapers and magazines in several countries, Ringier has branches including infographics and datavis today.
How is the newsroom changing?
Our newsroom is like every other newsroom: evolving fast, moving away from print to online and social media and will be focusing much more on TV in the near future. What is today’s way of doing things, is out of fashion by tomorrow. But it has been like this for the past 20 years in all the jobs I’ve done for my company and if it was any different, it would somehow become boring. As long we are doing serious journalism, working hard for good stories – how they are spread or consumed is secondary.
“What is today’s way of doing things, is out of fashion by tomorrow.”
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Whenever I get the opportunity, I propose my own stories from the research to concepting, drawing and writing. And I always get to learn new things. Every story is different and every approach to it should be chosen in the way it best fits the story.
And what do you enjoy least?
To be honest? It’s very simple: when I have (after 1,000 times) to explain to someone again and again why a certain chart is not the best way to represent the data. I guess that every graphics editor knows what I mean!
Who in your field has particularly inspired you, and why?
There is so much beautiful infographics-work to see everywhere. I cannot say that one person influenced me most for infographics. But I had the luck to work for a couple of years with an amazing designer, Stéphane Carpentier, in Switzerland and Eastern Europe and he influenced me in the best way a mentor and friend can do. He taught me first the rules of our job and then how to break them! To stay always open-minded, never be too sure about what you are doing, do every extra mile needed and at the end kill your idea if it’s not working without fear or any regrets. We worked like crazy, but we had the same amount of fun too.
How important is data visualization to your newsroom, and how do you see it changing over the next 5 years?
Working in a small team doing graphics and datavis makes it somehow difficult to answer this question. Our work is appreciated but, in my opinion, we should / could do much more. I deeply believe in visual journalism and for me it’s a necessity for tomorrow’s newsrooms to invest in this field. I guess in the end it will not be about a technology but about finding creative ways of telling stories visually on every kind of platform.
“I deeply believe in visual journalism and for me it’s a necessity for tomorrow’s newsrooms to invest in this field.”
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the newsroom?
Always stay curious. Never stop learning. And never mind what kind of “tool” you use to tell your story – it’s all about the story (and maybe an idea to visualize the story in an easy to understand way for your reader).
When you are not working, how do you relax?
I love to sketch and draw. Taking a sketchbook on a walk and to sit down wherever I see something which interests me, is a real relaxation. More than two days of vacation makes me think about traveling, preferably to France. Also, I love to invite friends over, cooking, opening a good bottle of red wine and just enjoying the moment.
In an alternate life, what would you do for a living?
Marine biology has always been fascinating to me…
About Priska Walliman
Priska Wallimann is senior graphics editor and deputy head of storytelling for the Blick Group in Zurich. Blick was established in 1959 and is owned by Ringier. Ringier, established in 1833, remains family-owned and is an international media group with a strategic focus on media, e-commerce and entertainment