Think Like an Editor blog by Steve Davis and Emilie Davis, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University

USDA’s new dinner plate is here

By · Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

UPDATE: The dinner plate has been unveiled, replacing the familiar food pyramid. Check it out here.

ORIGINAL POST: So the food pyramid is out and the dinner plate is in.

On Thursday, the Obama administration will unveil a new way to look at healthy eating. The reason for the change, according to a story in today’s New York Times: “The pyramid … was derided by nutritionists as too confusing and deeply flawed because it did not distinguish clearly between healthy foods like whole grains and fish and less healthy choices like white bread and bacon.”

In contrast, the dinner plate “is meant to give consumers a fast, easily grasped reminder of the basics of a healthy diet. It consists of four colored sections, for fruits, vegetables, grains and protein.”

What strikes me about this news is the focus on the visual. For years, the pyramid was “the” way to look at the food we bought and ate. Now, years later, that visual will be the symbol of something that we eat off of every day. How simplistic and also realistic.

We are in a visual world. Editors know it. Reporters know it. More and more, reporters are the ones taking photos to accompany their stories or to tell their stories. Photo galleries are popular places to visit on any website. Journalists now are multijob journalists. Print experts are learning how to shoot photos. Photo experts are learning how to shoot video.

When we plan stories these days, we are thinking of all ways to tell them.

Do you have examples to share with us?

Next time you are planning a story, think of all the visual ways to tell it. After Thursday, you’ll have a friendly reminder each time you pull up a chair to your dinner plate.

Emilie Davis

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