Discover more from A curious eye on Europe
Better Storytelling: How to visualise the Unseen
Plus: Tipps to put your audience first - Inspiring Ideas From Across Europe
👋 Hey there fellow curious journalists,
thanks so much for coming on this email-ride - curating interesting bits and pieces from journalism all over Europe (and occasionally beyond).
🤓A small FYI: Because of my work I have a bias towards all things strategy and visual storytelling. But this newsletter (and me) is a work-in-progress, so with each edition I’ll try to a) expand my perspective and b) cover more and more countries.
🛰️ New perspectives from Space
If things look to messy on earth, why not change our vantage point?
👀 Vertical52 - “the first news agency from space”- made me look:
Their goal: Pioneering satellite journalism as a new journalistic discipline.
With their platform, they aim to offer easier access to satellite and radar data.
🛰️ They propose to use it to track, identify, and expose wrongdoings - such as environmental crimes or human rights violations.
But why not also use it to:
🌿 Highlight Solutions and Positive Progress - observe the impact of policies over time, like on the rejuvenation of nature
🌐 Visualise how interconnected we humans and our most pressing issues are - they don‘t stop at borders
👉 One format that already weaves satellite images effectively into storytelling is the NYT’s Visual Investigations. Their self-proclaimed goal is to combine “traditional reporting with digital sleuthing and the forensic analysis of visual evidence". The format also manages to showcase the expertise their journalists have and how much work goes into an investigation.
🖼️ Whether it's from satellites in space or from smartphones on Earth, we have an unprecedented wealth of visual material at our disposal.
It could help us tell better stories → Let us and our audience see the whole picture (satellite) or experience events through somebody else’s perspective (smartphones).
🤔 But so far, how many of these visuals do we really use in innovative ways in our journalistic reporting?
While looking for examples I discovered the work of 👇
🏘️ Forensic Architecture
The research agency examines violent incidents and as their name indicates - they use architecture as evidence.
In their projects they match visuals, audio files and testimonies with factual data and place the information within a digitally reconstructed environment.
👀 While their work is not primarily journalistic, they cover a lot of the same events - the racist terror attack in Hanau, Germany; the Beirut Port Explosion or police brutality at the Black Lives Matter protests, to name a few. And they manage to find perspectives that differ from the ones portrayed in the media.
The Making-Of’s of their investigations are impressive to watch:
👆They investigated the fires that ravaged the migrant camp of Moria, Greece - scrutinising smartphone videos captured by survivors and placing them within a digitally reconstructed environment.
👇They also use their digital models as tools for interviewing survivors, making it easier for people to remember and discuss events when trauma is involved.
✋ While it is super inspiring to see how we could potentially make better use of all of the visual resources available to us, we shouldn’t forget our audience. Otherwise we might end with a Snowfall-like result: Exiting to make for us, other journalists love it, but nearly no one watches it till the end.
So the key question should always be: How would our audience like to consume the investigation and its results?
It definitely pays off to be transparent and to
🙌 Let your audience decide
📰 Try the opposite of click-bait. Aftonbladet in Sweden and Verdens Gang in Norway had success with AI-generated summaries of articles. Once readers knew what to expect of the article, engagement increased.
🕰️ Allow flexibility. “Are you and am I the same person every day of the week, every moment of the day? I don’t think so.” - The Athena Institute in the Netherlands researches how content curation can better reflect the changing mood and interests of your audience during the day.
🧩 Let AI transform content for different user needs. That’s the concept of Modular journalism - which has been around for a bit, but deserves a new look amid the AI hype. For each need it provides a new storytelling format - like Update Me, Data & Facts, Community Impact, Solutions Approach, Full Context. The goal is to also cater to audiences not well served by traditional media.
Oh hey, you are new here?
Hi, I’m Isabel, a journalist & digital strategist from Germany.
❤️ finding new ways of storytelling and developing formats for new platforms.
🙌 Goal for 2023: Knowing more about what my European colleagues are working on.
Come along on my journey in this newsletter:
And it always helps to
🤝 Value audience feedback
Why not let your strategic decisions be audience informed? That’s one of the goals of ZDFmitreden, the audience panel German public broadcaster ZDF set up in July. For the start they were focused on recruiting people who don’t yet consume their content, but they plan on growing the panel to 50.000 (!) members.
The BBC also started using a “people panel” to explore future user needs:
Or try setting up a Social Media account for feedback:
1️⃣ BBC News’ flagship podcast, Newscast, launched a server on Discord - to initiate a dialog with their audience: “We really wanted them to shape our news agenda. They’re such smart listeners with such good ideas and on a daily basis they’re feeding into the chat now.”
2️⃣ German public broadcasting station 1LIVE built a Feedback Community on Instagram. They created a private account and invited 100 to 150 individuals from their target audience to join. Through weekly polls in the channel's stories, they gather direct insights on how to improve their content.
👉 Bonus Tip 1: If you need some inspiration on what questions to ask your audience (and your own team) - the News Product Alliance has curated a pretty good list to get you started.
👉 Bonus Tip 2: Once you have a good feel on what your audience needs are, go trough your content and sort it: Does it fit the need? Keep it. // Can it be altered to fit the needs? Change it. // If not - bin it and ban it from future content planning. → Be rigourous!
Thanks to the fantastic Baekdal newsletter (Yes, you should subscribe!), I now know know a fancy name for that practice: relevancy audit. And you could also use this helpful scale for orientation when sorting your content:
Yay, you’ve made it this far - thanks so much for scrolling all the way through!
Since newslettering can sometimes feel a bit lonely: Whether you liked something, want to suggest something, or just want to say 'Hi' - I'd love to read your reply! 📧
🌐Sidenote: If you are wondering: How can I read up on all theses examples in a foreign language? There is this fitting quote I overheard:
“The language of Europe is translation.”
Luckily, translation has gotten quite easy: Nearly every browser has a neat translation function (or an add-on available), a lot of email providers too and there is of course your favourite AI tool to help out.
I’d be very lost in Journalism-Europe without good sources - so for this edition many 💞 go out to INMA, the EJC (Go check out their summit on climate journalism in October), the PressGazette, News Product Alliance and Baekdal.
👋 That’s all - for now.
Stay curious out there,
*This newsletter was made with lots of ❤️ (while travelling in trains trough Germany, France and the UK) and a bit of help by AI for translations.*