Interactive Reporting — Outriders Session at Lviv Media Forum

Last month we went to Ukraine to participate in Lviv Media Forum, the most important event dedicated to the media and journalism in Central and Eastern Europe. It was its fifth edition, this year located in Fest! Republic — a fantastic space in an old factory on the outskirts of Lviv.

Outriders came to Forum with a rather mighty team of Piotr Andrusieczko, Kasia Białach, Jakub Górnicki, Rafał Hetman, Piotr Kliks and Marcin Suder.

During 3-days conference program Jakub Górnicki had a Lab about Telling Stories through Instagram. After that, we organised a panel with Eva Lopez (Deutsche Welle), Zhanna Novik (Radio Free Europa) and Rafał Hetman on Interactive reporting.

Here are some bullet points from the presentations:

Eva Lopez, Deutsche Welle: “Intro to the Data Journalist Mindset — the Experience of the Deutsche Welle Data Team”

  • To be a good data journalist you need: a love for detail, openness for complexity, “data literacy”: data research, validating sources, how to read numbers, high frustration tolerance, stamina (and a boss giving you time for it).
  • Data journalism is analysing large amounts of data searching for trends, patterns, and outliers.
  • Writing a story, you start with a hypothesis trying to prove it right or wrong.
  • You look for data which can be structured (numbers, tables or geodata) or unstructured (images, video materials, texts, ex. Wikileaks).
  • A proper amount of data to talk about data journalism is more than 50 cells of data in a spreadsheet.
  • You can use much different software for data analysis; some of them are Excel, Python, Javascript.
  • Analysing data you look for trends because everyone wants to know what will happen in the future, you look for predictions.
  • Doing a “normal” journalist coverage of an event, you make a piece by doing research part of which is studying numbers; then you make a chart illustrating these figures and adding it as a part of your story and one of many bullet points.
  • Writing a data journalism piece, you start with a question; then you look for the needed data, you analyse it looking for patterns, outliers, and trends, this creates even more issues so write a piece answering these questions, and this creates our news event.
  • Data journalism is teamwork.
  • Data journalism doesn’t have to be very analytic; it can also be deeply personal.
  • Some examples of news events covered by Data DW team.
  • Data DW team doesn’t measure success by click numbers but by looking at a time which the user spends reading an article. If there is more time needed to read an article, it shows that it’s more demanding, but the reader is ready to take up this challenge because she/he wants to be informed.

Rafał Hetman, Outriders: “Telling Stories With & For Communities”

  • “Zones of Fear” is one of the most significant fact-checking projects run right now by Outriders and using traditional journalism tools (going to a place and double-checking facts). It also has viral potential.
  • The story may go viral if it has interesting content, right timing, and it evokes emotions.
  • Writing and tilting an article, you have to tone emotions and be very considerate about your reader feelings.
  • Titling the article, you should remember about positioning and using the right keywords.
  • Thinking about visualisations, you should always remember that various people can use your materials. Not always creating a map to illustrate your statement is a good idea; in some cases, it can later become a crazy-person-manual.
  • It is essential to share doubts and ideas with the community. That is how you involve people in the process of making the story.
  • It’s worth to change how we communicate with the audience and instead of just giving the audience ready material, engage them in the entire creation process by asking what they think about the story if they have any suggestions where to go, what to check — it builds trust.
  • It’s good to advertise the story before it is ready by weekly update postings and pictures sharing. You can also check the story viral potential seeing how many people share your updates.
  • Your readers can bring exciting ideas, and they can also point your weak points and find your errors and mistakes.
  • What is vital in communicating a difficult, emotional content to our community is the language usage, text structure (and has to be very clear, you verify the myths) and giving information, not opinions.
  • Photos have a considerable impact on illustrating your story — they can also verify myths and show facts.
  • Constructing a story, we think not only about the story itself, but also about the visual content and interactivity.
  • Layers of the interactivity can be: compilation of text, photo, and video, adding a clickable content, adding gamification but also social media tools and dialogue.

Zhanna Novik, Radio Svoboda: “How we made a stories revolution in Belarus.”

  • Radio Svoboda leading storytelling platforms are Facebook, Instagram, Vkontakte, YouTube Stories, Google AMP Stories. Soon perhaps they will use WhatsApp, Telegram Stories or Odnoklassniki as well.
  • To set the metrics, you can check numbers of finished viewed stories, time spent watching and swiping out interactions.
  • For useful content creation, it is crucial to understand who your audience is (where they are from, what age gap they cover, what language they speak, what their interests are, etc.) and adjust your content to this group.
  • It is good to mix the stories format, for example, to publish authentic and informal stories, mobile-only, more edited engaging interactives and short everyday news both from the world and from the backstage of your office. Various formats make the public more willing to see all your material, and it’s more diverse.
  • It’s worth adding educational materials as well and to mix serious and light topics.
  • Radio Svoboda publishes about 8/10 stories a day according to the pre-planned topic devised chart.
  • It is essential to make sure that your stories are well-edited and visually eye-catching. It will make the audience to stay with you until the end of your story.
  • The software which you can use for stories animation is Smoozly, Inshot, Picsart, Adobe Spark Post, Splice, Quik, Mojo, Crello, Supa, and for collages and animation effects: Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects.