What to tackle at Build The News 3

Half of the tickets for the next Build The News have now gone. If you haven’t got yours yet, sign up your team today.

Here are some ideas of what you can tackle and build on the day.

Interaction. A lot of news organisations are getting rid of comments – can you come up with a better way to engage readers?

Social sources. Traditionally crediting user-generated content has not worked as well as we believe it should – can you create a system that solves this problem and serves both publisher and content-creator well?

Context. It can be difficult to get up to speed with a topic that suddenly becomes big news. Build something that gives the reader the context around stories and explains the wider situation.

These aren’t strict categories, and you’re welcome to do a project that isn’t similar to these, but they’re there to give you guidance and spark ideas.


Category 3: Making longform work on mobile

Many people point to the success of the New York Times’ Snow Fall as the catalyst for longform reading growing in popularity on the web.

Their work showed what could be done with traditional longform journalism when combined with animation, video and parallax scrolling. Conversely, sites like Pocket, Readability and Instapaper all seek to bring you great things to read by stripping away any distractions to let the reader focus on the text alone.

At The Times and The Sunday Times, we’ve experimented with immersive longform, with pieces on Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai, and we’re currently in the process of building a suite of tools to help us create a new type of article presentation for our longform journalism.

However, the big question with a lot of these pieces is how they work well on mobile. So far, many attempts haven’t been particularly successful.

If you’re thinking of taking on this category at Build The News, you need to think about:

  • What elements you should include alongside text
  • How to make sure that those elements add to, not distract from, the text
  • How to make it readable on mobile – a long piece with lots of scrolling time needs to be carefully thought about
  • The finer details – fonts, image sizing, column width

I’ve pulled together a couple of resources below that may give you some ideas and inspiration if you’re thinking of entering in this category. And remember – we’re focusing on mobile for this event, so getting this working on your phone is the key goal.

10 examples of good longform journalism presentation

Interview with Joe Sexton, who led the team that produced Snow Fall 

shorthand-logo-transThis category is supported by Shorthand.

Category 2: Creating a campaign platform


Taking a campaign online can help further your cause in many ways. It can draw more attention to your goals and put you in touch with like-minded people around the world – not just those in your immediate area.

The Times and Sunday Times have both run successful campaigns that made best use of digital resources. The Times launched its Cities Fit For Cycling campaign after reporter Mary Bowers was critically injured when colliding with a lorry, and it tapped into existing cycling networks, bloggers and Twitter users, and adopted the hashtag #cyclesafe.

This challenge is all about creating a campaigning platform that empowers its users, spreads their message as far as possible and holds a clear path to the organisation or people intended to be lobbied.

If you’re thinking of taking on this category at Build The News, you need to think about:

  • How can you make it easy for users to understand and participate in a campaign?
  • All platforms – how to ensure people can sign up for a campaign on their preferred device
  • What elements do those organising the campaign need to consider? How do you include enough flexibility without confusing the message?

List of good campaign examples and platforms

Announcing Build The News 2

Last February’s Build The News was a great success. We really enjoyed the two days and it resulted in us meeting many fantastic digital journalists and developers.

It was so successful, in fact, that one of the attendees now works for us and the winning team ‘Ferret’ (originally named Low Pass) have spent two paid weeks working on their idea in the office with our team.

With that in mind, we’re really excited to announce Build The News 2, taking place this October.

This time the theme of the weekend is all around Mobile.

It’ll be on the weekend of 18th/19th October, at Hub Westminster (agenda here). We’re looking for teams of 3 to 5 from universities around the UK. Each team should contain at least one web developer who is proficient in using HTML, CSS and Javascript, or server-side frameworks such as Python, PHP, Java etc.

The aim is to see how student journalists and developers can work together to create innovative forms of storytelling, with a choice of topic and prizes awarded for the best in each category. You can order your tickets here.

Teams will benefit from the expertise of Times, Sunday Times and Sun staff, as well as companies (to be announced) with interesting APIs and tool kits to give feedback and assistance with your projects.


No matter what category you choose to tackle this time around we want you to consider it from a mobile point of view. It is an area a lot of news organisations have been slow to tackle and the mobile experience of their readership is often a second thought.


We’ll be blogging about these categories over the next 2 weeks – giving examples to inspire you and letting you know what tools and support there will be during the weekend


– many news organisations often just dump a comment box at the end of every article – what if you had a way to place more considered calls to action at the end of an article?


– media organisations love a cause – can you build a toolkit or platform that helps news organisations harness the power of their readership quickly and easily?

Live sports coverage

– we think it’s a little bit odd that live coverage of such an emotional experience as sport is covered mainly in text… can you re-invent the way we deliver sporting coverage to readers on the go?

If you’ve any questions about the weekend, let us know. Otherwise you can sign up for your tickets here.

Take a look at photos of the last Build The News here, or check out the video below:


Travel Information for Build The News

The day is almost here for Build The News, so here’s a list of directions from major stations to get to Build The News.

We are holding Build The News at BLNK, 37 East Road, London, N1 6AZ. The nearest tube station is Old Street, which is a 5 minute walk from the venue.

From Euston

Take the Northern Line, southbound on the Bank branch. Journey time to Old Street – 7 minutes.

From King’s Cross/St Pancras

Take the Northern Line, southbound on the Bank branch. Journey time to Old Street – 5 minutes.

From Paddington

Paddington (H&C Line) Underground Station

Take the Hammersmith & City Line towards  Barking, or Circle Line towards Edgware Road. Change at Moorgate, then take the Northern Line northbound for one stop. Journey time to Old Street – 25 minutes.

From Waterloo

Take the Jubilee Line, eastbound towards Stratford. Change at London Bridge, then take the Northern Line northbound. Journey time to Old Street – 15 minutes.

List of buses that stop near the venue

21, 76, 141, 271. – all stop at Old Street Stn/Moorfields Eye Hospital (Stop D) – a 5 minute walk from the venue.

Venue map

Announcing speakers at Build The News

We’re pleased to announce a range of speakers who’ll be attending Build The News.

Alan Hunter – Head of Digital, The Times & The Sunday Times

Nicola Ryan – Digital Design Editor, The Times

Nicola Ryan is the Digital Design Editor for The Times. She’s responsible for the design of The Times’ digital output, from the daily edition through to the future development of The Times’ digital products. She has a background in information design, branding and user experience architecture.

Ben Whitelaw – Head of Community Development at The Times and The Sunday Times

Ben Whitelaw engages with readers in comments and on social media as well as helping journalists become familiar with new digital tools. He worked at The Guardian before moving to The Times in November 2011 and is co-founder of wannabehacks.co.uk, which provides hints and tips about getting into journalism. Recently he has worked on The Times’ award-winning Cities fit for Cycling campaign, using digital tools to campaign for change.

Ben Fogarty – CEO of Shorthand

Ben is CEO of Shorthand, a platform to create longform interactive stories. Shorthand aims to simplify the process of creating ambitious digital stories, and has worked with The Guardian and ESPN.

Jonathan Frost – CEO of Liveblog Pro

Jonathan is CEO of Liveblog Pro, a liveblogging platform. He has a background in design and manages all areas of the Liveblog Pro business. The platform offers free and paid tiers, with commercial partners including Politics Home and digital sports agency Sotic.

Peter MacRobert – Founder of Pixie Labs

Pixie Labs is a digital product incubator. Peter is an engineering-minded entrepreneur with a decade of experience building innovative software for blue chip brands. Some of the products built include VinePeek.com – a viral Vine aggregator that garnered 8 million views in 24 hours, a social Bitcoin trading platform called BitFriends.co, and a Twitter management tool called Echelon.