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Newspapers embrace infographics

One of Germany's biggest newspapers, Süddeutsche Zeitung, has collected all published infographics on one page of its website and presented them to its readers in a highly original format: as moving pictures. By hovering your mouse over one of the images, an illustration together with a short text description opens up and if you click on that you'll be taken to its dedicated page. The subject matter of the infographics is extremely diverse, ranging from sporting events to various types of government statistics and versions of the sinking of the Titanic.

The newspaper's interest in journalistic data and infographics is completely understandable. The authors of the only full-fledged guidebook on this topic from The European Journalism Centre and The Open Knowledge Foundation (translated into Russian and published in electronic format by RIA Novosti in the fall of 2012) are of the opinion that in a situation of information overload one of the functions of journalism is to structure the flow of information and to bring information to people in as simple and clear a way as possible. Graphic images are one of the most effective tools in this area. That is why an increasing number of publications are setting up departments inside editorial offices to develop infographics and accompany complicated articles with a large number of figures using such illustrations.

In the Russian media market RIA Novosti was the first media outlet to make extensive use of infographics in its materials. In recent times aif.ru has started using infographics: in its Food section the newspaper publishes recipes with infographics (http://www.aif.ru/food/infographic), which gather between 8,000 and 48,000 hits.

The social network site VKontakte has a whole community (http://vk.com/datajournalism) working on journalistic data and creating a database of the same name - http://datajournalism.ru (at the time of writing this the site was not up and running). The aim of the project is nothing more or less than to "create a Russian school of journalistic data;" for now the community has put forward an aggregator, which publishes graphics from ria.ru, http://www.vokrugsveta.ru, http://startupafisha.ru and other sources.

A study of the trends in the development of news media in Russia in 2012, carried out by the RIA Novosti Research Center (which will be accessible on the website from March 26), shows that the mass media see infographics as one of the leading formats for presenting news information. The international project from Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia Beyond the Headlines, Vechernyaya Moskva and other publications say that infographics are an indispensable element of delivering news, even though making them understandable to a wide audience is a far from easy task.