Design Hacks: How to create attention-grabbing visuals

In our scroll and skim culture, dynamic visuals can make the difference in whether a reader engages with a story. But not every story can attract a graphic design professional’s time in the newsroom, especially in the continuing pandemic news cycle. If you’re a reporter, editor, social media manager now handling (or who wants to handle) quick-turn graphics, get a head start with our hacks for designing visuals when it’s not usually part of your job.

Beth Francesco is the National Press Club Journalism Institute’s senior director

Beth Francesco, National Press Club Journalism Institute senior director, shared best practices, tools you have at your disposal from home, and exercises for creating visuals regardless of your hands-on design experience.

In this 2.5-hour interactive workshop, she discussed:

  • Design fundamentals: fonts, colors, space and more
  • Rules of thumb to guide photo and image use
  • Free tools you have at your fingertips to make quick work of visuals (social cards, call-outs, basic infographics, and more) on the fly
  • Exercises to help you develop your visual thinking

Beth wears different hats for the Institute, including editing and designing marketing and fundraising materials. Before coming to the Institute, Beth oversaw student media operations at the University of Texas at Arlington, where she trained student journalists on design, editing, reporting, leadership and marketing. She’s been a freelance writer, editor and consultant for numerous newspaper, magazine and marketing agencies. She started her career as a copy editor/designer at the Corpus Christi (TX) Caller-Times. When she’s not being creative at work, she’s experimenting with recipes and ever-growing plant collection at her home in Washington, D.C.

The National Press Club Journalism Institute promotes an engaged global citizenry through an independent and free press, and equips journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire civic engagement. As the non-profit of the National Press Club, the Institute serves as a beacon for journalism in the public interest.


Contact Journalism Institute Executive Director Julie Moos.

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