In a guest post for OJB, Livia Vieira rounds up some of the highlights of News:Rewired 2017, from best practices to deal with fake news and engagement with live videos, to newsroom automation, mobile data journalism and collaborative storytelling and groundbreaking initiatives in newsrooms.
1. Engagement and ethics in live social video
According to Alfred Joyner, head of video of IBT Media, 66% of the views on Facebook Live videos happen after they end, so it is important to re-package the content, giving it new meaning.
Alfred also emphasised that IBT trains its anchors and uses high quality equipment to ensure the quality of transmissions — although all speakers hit on the point that Facebook Live is not TV, and so does not need to have that ‘casted’ format.
Also on streaming, Sue Llewwllyn, ex-BBC and founder of Ultra Social, highlighted “The ‘S.P.E.C.T.R.E’ of Livestreaming”:
- Privacy and permissions,
- Trust and trolls,
- Reputation risk,
- and emotional traumas.
“Ethics is a constant concern. Being able to transmit something live does not mean that you should do it.”
2. Cybernetic newsrooms
At Reuters, 400 stories are being made by robots every day, while 950 automated alerts are sent in the same period, according to Reg Chua, Executive Editor of Data and Innovation at the company.
To him, speed, broad coverage (more languages, more audience), cost and efficiency are the main reasons to automate journalism.
Reg pointed out that machines can make correlations, but not causalities or understanding of contexts.
Once robots are capable of identifying anomalies, the focus is on obtaining insights which must be interpreted by journalists.
“We are building a cybernetic newsroom, where humans help machines and machines help humans on what both can do best.”
Susanne Weber, from BBC News Labs, presented ALTO, a tool that translates video content into several languages in an automated form, and uses a synthesized voice-over tool.
What impressed me the most about the tool was its ease of use (see the image above): the journalist clicks on ‘translate’, chooses the desired voice, and adds it to the video.
Yet, Susanne affirmed that there is still a need for human work to correct translations that are not always accurate.
At the end of the panel, one member of the audience raised an ethical question: “Do you want people to think that the automated videos and articles were made by humans?”
Both Weber and Chua answered “no”.
3. More scroll, more personalised views and less interactivity in data journalism for mobile
Collen McEnaney graphics editor of The Wall Street Journal, summed it up simply:
“In data views for mobile, less is more.”
McEnaney highlighted the importance of thinking vertically (“people may scroll forever”) and producing clear illustrations, with information that is easy to find.
Martin Stabe, Head of Interactive News at The Financial Times, affirmed that the production of one single article requires different types of graphics.
“Same data, different views for each device”
According to Martin, this leads to a change in workflow, since the team thinks about distinct views for print, desktop, iPad, and smartphones.
Another interesting point in this panel was the understanding that unnecessary interactivity should be avoided. Martin Stabe pointed out:
“Interactivity is a design attribute just as much as colour. Make the decision case by case. Does this article really need to be interactive? There is no intrinsic value on the “Oh, I can click on that!”
Finally there was a recommendation to reduce the number of clicks and encourage the scroll, as in this example from Washington Post.
4. Collaborative storytelling: when the community reports
The speech from Paul Myles, from Our Radar, was inspiring in the way that it showed how technology and the community can be allied to make quality journalism.
What he called collaborative storytelling aims to involve communities to tell their own stories.
“It is the encounter between traditional journalism with the citizen journalism.”
Paul took two very relevant and sensitive examples: Back in Touch, which tells stories about residents from Sierra Leone after the Ebola crisis; and the Dementia Diaries, which tells everyday stories from people with dementia.
In the first project, the community from Sierra Leone received cellphones with cameras and reported their own conditions for two years.
In the second, 3D printers were delivered in order for people to record audios with stories in a simple way.
Connectivity, capacity and trust are the three barriers for the production of collaborative projects with communities, Paul Myles said.
He also argued that a lack of financial resources is leading journalists to stop connecting with people.
“It is time for the media to rethink the way it engages with the community.”
5. Special projects mix innovation and commercial interests
The consensus of the speakers of this panel: “special projects” are those that bring people from different teams and skills to work together.
At The Guardian, Quartz and The Financial Times such teams already have editorial status.
Besides their experimental and innovative character, journalists from these three newsrooms drew attention to the importance of commercial partnership, given that the production cost of these special projects are normally very high.
For that matter, Franscesca Panneta, Special Projects Editor at The Guardian, said that a good relationship between editorial, commercial, and marketing staff is essential in order for the initiatives to work.
“Putting all together from the beginning helps to decrease the tensions among different teams.”
By way of example: “6×9: a virtual experience of solitary confinement”, a project in virtual reality by the Guardian, counts Google among its sponsors.
A Portuguese version of this article is available here.
A versão em português desse artigo está publicada aqui.