By María Teresa Ronderos
A story with global impact is every reporter's dream. Like the news about the Panama Papers. Stories like these, when the impact of the truth being revealed shakes the reader, are at their best.
In journalistic days, getting the public to pay attention to your story, making it not only believable but also credible and interesting, is tough work. And it's even more difficult in this digital era. Information flows continuously through our electronic devices, such as rivers with muddy water, mixing authentic stories with fake: verified ones; and the gossip.
So if journalists want a chance of winning this battle, keep readers informed of what really happened and why, among the great rubble, they have to not only find good stories, but also. must elevate their story telling to the level of art.
There are numerous examples of finds of this kind around the world. For example: a long tradition of literary journalism, it seems like those of Latin Americans. El Faro in tiny El Salvador has just won the Gabriel Garcia Marques Excellency Award for their touching stories and documentaries. Other organizations, such as Initium, created a data sound project in which average temperatures over the past 131 years in Hong Kong are visualized and played like musical notes.
Others seek to explain and make news easier to understand in a confusing world filled with versions of events. US origin Vox.com tried it with "explainers“In short cards, such as an article about a hacked Hillary Clinton campaign email. The New York Times created The Upshot, with snippets showing how people read the conflicting polls of the US presidential election. In the South, GKillCity from Ecuador tried a similar version of the card, as in the story about the UN human rights recommendation in Ecuador. There are many other tools that make things clearer to the reader: a timeline of history; location maps of events; or even traverse time and place in interactive multimedia like the one created by Kloop in Kyrgyzstan to show how protected forests in the capital Bishkek are disappearing as housing developers expand on loosened rules.
The best way to tell a story is conversation. In the recent coup attempt in Turkey, journalists Medyascope explain to followers they're on a live broadcast on Periscope what's going on and how they understand it, bringing newswriters closer to their audience. News bots are actually a lot of fun, especially for hot topics, like football and elections. Univision put the Purple Bot in the primaries for the parties and the number of fans immediately grew to the thousands. You don't have to be rich or in Silicon Valley to develop a bot.
Two young Spanish businessmen developed politi_bot in the chat application Telegram, and have successfully informed readers about the latest elections in their country.
Bots imply a journalist and a developer sitting together to think about stories: as in art, content and form merge into one concept. The potential for communication and engagement depends on how well the journalist is and developer cooperate. The outcome of this teamwork could be games, such as the one developed by ProPublica in which users not only know about the failure of health services to treat emergency heart attacks in New York City, but also personally feel the patient's anger; or as Caixin coined, where users help a mayor in a Chinese city reduce pollution. These games can say a lot more about what is happening in your part of the world than many other editorials.
Where things are difficult, and telling the story can put your freedom and even your life at risk, many journalists are experts in nuance and complexity. And under these conditions, good political humor is always believed. See how Medialab from Armenia disclosing political events in their country through cartoons.
The name of the story-telling game in the digital age should be creative, think about your readers, work with other professionals, such as artists and software engineers. The trick is to make the daily routine more enjoyable and engaging; and deep and truly serious, interesting but still believable.
Graphic News run by a small team of journalists and comic artists who are interested in exploring new ways of telling journalistic stories, non-fiction narratives. Their goal is to become a digital first and experiment with images and layouts to suit mobile and desktop. Graphic News visualize in-depth stories explaining complex social, economic, and scientific issues in a reader-friendly way. Some of their stories include China's economic growth and the closure of the last forensic mental hospitals.
Zambezi News uses satire to talk about everything from voting to corruption in Zimbabwe. They developed a satirical news program, with three comedian newsreaders, that shortened the distance between newsrooms and satirical reports from the field, and contained all kinds of characters and jokes. Six million Zimbabweans have watched the program - initially they published it on community radio stations, activist groups, social media and YouTube, and, upon request, they produced 10,000 DVDs for distribution to cities and villages throughout Zimbabwe. .
Meydan TV, an independent online media platform for Azerbaijan, regularly publishes satirical cartoons, which have proven very popular on social media; a caricature created by Meydan's Gunduz Aghayev, the reaction to news of Georgia's visa liberalization with the European Union barely getting 1 million views on Facebook.
Hackastory, a journalism start-up based in the Netherlands was founded by a journalist, one developer and a transmedia academic, does not produce his own news. Instead, they encourage other journalists to find new perspectives and creative ideas. Hackastory's mission is to empower cross-professional collaboration in digital storytelling through experimentation and learning by approaching. To do this, Hackastory manages hackathon storytelling around the world, bringing together journalists, developers, and designers who have two days to produce a project (prototype).
CORRECT! V, an innovative, data-driven and innovative investigative reporting newsroom based in Germany, experimenting with different ways of telling stories, combining “classic” investigative journalism, technology, digital tools and the arts. They produce a powerful graphic novel - "Weisse Wölfe" (White Wolves) - which illustrates the investigation by David Schraven and Jan Feindt into an extremist Nazi gang from the Ruhr area slowly uncovering their international network. The print version was initially distributed free of charge, when the team realized its success, a new print was ordered and sold well in a matter of days. (*)
María Teresa Ronderos is the director of the OSF Program on Independent Journalism, which manages efforts to promote vibrant high-quality media, especially in countries transitioning to democracy.