The digital revolution has provided us with wonderful new ways to tell stories. Using them effectively means increased readership and better user engagement.
During the INK+BEYOND conference, three panelists spoke about the transformation of the newsroom and what that means for content creation and distribution. Kathy Best, Paul Bucci and Seth Long, all editors from daily and community papers on the west coast, showed off the latest tools and discussed strategies for investigative reporting, crowd sourcing and multimedia storytelling techniques.
Kathy Best (pictured right), managing editor, digital news and innovation Seattle Times, shared the compelling story of how American daily transformed its newsroom following a fatal shooting in the local area. Best described the day of the shooting as “the day the paper stopped being a print newsroom and embraced being a multimedia storytelling newsroom.“
In order to report effectively and in real time the paper looked outside of the newsroom, crowdsourcing information and images from people within the community.
“The editors broke down the walls and incorporated readers insights and questions into our jobs,” said Best. Editors and reporters layered basic storytelling with multimedia and new content distribution systems. “We innovated on the run with text, audio, video and still photos. We used social media to start a conversation, push out new facts, fact check and answer questions in real time.”
The newspaper became a place to come and share information and created a narrative – both online and in print – to help readers make sense of a fast-moving story. In 2010 the Seattle Times won the Pulitzer for breaking news; their prize-winning package included screen grabs, video and a timeline chronicalling the 40 hour time period following the event.
Seth Long (pictured below second from left), director of new media for Sound Publishing (part of Black Press), spoke about the early challenges of transforming a print-focused newsroom and maintaining local coverage while working towards a “web first” operation.
“With companies that have lots of small newspapers with limited resources the focus has traditionally been for editors to handle not just the content but also the production,” said Long. He drove home the idea that newsrooms must move away from these hands on production teams and integrate a new kind of workflow.
“We first had to get the editors to a point where they were thinking about content separate from production,” he said. “Many staff members found it challenging to embrace this shift in philosophy in how a weekly newsroom functions – once we were able to do that we were able to add on features as we went.”
In order to help staff understand the practices and technical requirements for a web first newsroom SoundPublishing provides internal training, webinars and frequent blog updates.
Paul Bucci (pictured above far left), deputy managing editor digital at Vancouver Sun, shared his insights on data journalism and visual storytelling and other alternative story forms. According to Bucci a story can be anything. “A database, string of comments, text, video – a story is ultimately something that imparts information.”
Database journalism involves finding and assembling data, pushing it into a spreadsheet and arranging it in an attractive and accessible way. The Vancouver Sun used this database model to generate a number of stories on topics