Telum Talks To...Pablo Robles, Graphic Journalist, Bloomberg (Hong Kong)
Please tell us more about your journey. What's life like as a Graphic Journalist at Bloomberg.
Everything began around 2012, when I started working as Information Designer for local museums in my home country Costa Rica. My work entailed using graphic design, research and user experience to create virtual exhibitions and interactive rooms. After that I jumped to a small data team for the leading newspaper in Costa Rica, La Nación, working as Infographic Designer. Once there I started to get involved with the reporting side, working closely with journalists and editors and taking the lead on visual investigations.
A few years later I received an offer to work as a Senior Infographic Designer for one of the best print infographics departments globally, the South China Morning Post, led by Darren Long. Whilst in this new role I had to research, report, design and code dozens of stories for digital and print editions that were proposed either by me or in collaboration with the rest of the team.
The stories covered subjects from culture to politics and, of course, breaking news. For the last year and a half there I helped to lead digital infographics and special multimedia features, in-house applications and storytelling.
Nowadays I work for Bloomberg as a Graphics Journalist. On a daily basis I have the opportunity to develop my own stories and also to collaborate with incredible reporters covering a great range of topics. We have a big solid team globally and a team in Asia. We are lucky to have a lot of new technologies and people to ask for help and to learn from. Every project is discussed and constantly analysed by the whole team to find the best angle, always using data as the focal point.
What is the main difference between a Journalist and a Graphic Journalist? How do you use numbers to tell a story? Why do graphics play a key part in the news?
The human brain processes images faster than text, and 90 percent of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. Journalism is the core and both work under the same principles, but Visual Data Journalism provides pictorial news with a clear takeaway using colour psychology, accessibility and different ways of interaction. Infographics help us visualise connections and statistics in a simpler way and around 40 percent more people will respond to visual information over plain text. So if you have complex topics and large amounts of data, visual solutions will work best for your story.
There's no doubt that data and graphics are considered very important for news these days, especially during COVID-19. How does Bloomberg use data and graphics to inform its readership?
Live data feed graphics and precise analysis are taking the lead in relation to COVID-19 news. Bloomberg works with a different range of trackers to help the reader understand topics such as the global vaccination status, a ranking to identify the best and worst places to be according to their response during the pandemic and the worldwide cases tracker, to name a few.
You are an award-winning journalist. What motivates and inspires you to be a journalist and continue to be a good journalist? Do you have any tips for young journalists?
I think I'm just curious about everything. I get obsessed with topics and I always try to find a better way to explain things visually. I do a lot of research and reporting in order to learn myself first, and then find an easy way to explain it to others. Also, my grandfather was an incredible source of inspiration as he worked in journalism as well and I, almost accidentally, ended up doing the same thing. One thing I always try to remember is to think as a reader first. Also, not all the information researched is needed, learn to declutter.