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

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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

Category 1: Actions and Commenting – how do you engage readers properly?

Photo by duncan on Flickr.
Photo by duncan on Flickr.

Commenting has been touted as both an advantage and a disadvantage of the web for news organisations. It can be used to bring readers into a discussion – they can be great for finding stories and building relationships. However they can often descend into madness and require constant attention and guidance if they are to be an asset.

Comments tend to appear at the bottom of every article (unless the news desk were afraid of contempt and turned them off), however it seems silly to us to always ask readers to comment (or turn them off and have no alternative)

Assuming you have a reader’s attention at the end of an article – what do you want to do with it?

What if, instead of commenting you’d rather they shared a particular article, or made it easy for them to write to their MP, what if you want them to rate somewhere you have reviewed or answer a polling question? Or upload a picture of their own experiences?

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

  • When you have an engaged reader, what do you do with their time and energy?
  • How do you make it easy for journalists to engage with readers further?
  • How do you improve quality, how do help readers find comments that interest them?
  • Can you tell if your readership agree with a columnist?

 

If you haven’t got your ticket for Build The News yet, you can sign up your team here.

This category is supported by Livefyre

livefyre-logo-fullcolor

Category Four: Noise – the best way of finding out who’s talking

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We are now in a world of participatory media – where those not professionally employed as journalists can easily contribute to the wider news ecosystem, and “commit acts of journalism”.

The effect of this on the journalistic process has been huge. In his book What Is Participatory Journalism?, J.D. Lasica categorises six distinct types of citizen journalism:

  • Audience participation (Commenting, personal blogs, photos or videos taken from mobile phones, or local news written by a community of residents)
  • Independent news and information websites
  • Participatory news sites
  • Collaborative and contributory media sites
  • Other kinds of “thin media” (mailing lists, email newsletters)
  • Personal broadcasting sites

With this volume of content coming from the public sphere – journalists need to know how to sift through it and include these contributions in their stories. What’s the best way of doing that?

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

  • Verification – is there an opportunity to create a platform to aid in online verification?
  • Filtering – UGC is taken from dozens of social media services. How can a journalist filter through the noise?
  • Location – how can you monitor a region for content from the crowd?
  • Licencing – once you’ve got hold of content, is there a way to effectively licence it?

Resources

One Twitter User Reports Live From Osama Bin Laden Raid

Storyful: Verifying images

Poynter: The 11 stages of citizen journalism

Category Three: Tactile – Reinvent the Sunday paper

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Sunday papers have traditionally provided a hefty amount of writing and journalism for those who want to sit down and absorb the week in news. Colour supplements, a news review, interviews, high quality photography and more are put into a distinct package at the end of the week and normally make those who buy them groan under the weight of carrying them home from the newsagent.

But now the idea of buying Sunday paper may feel quaint. Circulation is down year on year across all Sunday titles, and news consumption on the web seems to have moved to a model where the homepage is becoming irrelevant.

In this kind of climate, how does the Sunday paper stay relevant? Is there room for more edition-based apps that seek to emulate the traditional Sunday morning reading experience or does everything need to change?

If you’re thinking of taking on this category at Build The News (we’re now operating a waiting list for potential attendees), you need to think about:

  • Whether traditional sections are relevant any more, and why.
  • How you handle sharing different sections of the paper.
  • Whether you provide any digital extras to those reading the hard copy of the paper
  • How to deliver such a large amount of content to readers on all platforms.

 

Category Two: Crowd – The ultimate campaign platform

Screenshot 2014-01-16 15.03.43

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.

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.

The social media aspect of the campaign tapped into existing cycling networks, bloggers and Twitter users, and adopted the hashtag #cyclesafe. There was a deliberate reason that a branded hashtag wasn’t chosen, and that was to make sure it had a life of its own, that it joined a wider conversation and started being used with other pieces of relevant content that weren’t from the Times.

If you’re thinking of taking on this category at Build The News (sign up here if you haven’t already), 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

Category One: Stretch – Making longform immersive

mandela cap

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 this form, 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.

If you’re thinking of taking on this category at Build The News (sign up here if you haven’t already), 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 the largest amount of devices (desktop, tablet, mobile)
  • 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.

10 examples of good longform journalism presentation

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