Scrollytelling : Combining entertainment and public interest
The world has reached a point in time where pictures are not enough to tell a story, much less, text alone. A global trend in online journalism has already unfolded where even the leading media companies, such as the New York Times and Financial Times, have joined. The main goal of this new trend is to creatively work with unique content that people have not seen before.
There should be a unifying content marrying pictures and texts in a single, fluid idea, and scrollytelling does it. The word “scrollytelling” is coined by combining the words “storytelling” and “scrolling” where news stories unfold as the reader scrolls down. This idea has worked so well that even mobile users admit how easy it is to view and understand a story.
Deviating from tradition
The New York Times, with its commitment to provide an innovative approach to news reporting, explored scrollytelling as a new way to tell stories. This interactive storytelling deviates from the traditional elements of journalism— texts, photos, and videos— and focused more on integrating web technologies and good news stories into another viewing experience where readers can interact.
According to the company blog, although the New York Times have done well in print, the evolving habits and trends online is a different story. Today, more interactive tools such as video looping, parallax scrolling and even interspersed maps and graphics are available which can give personality to a simple new story.
Journalists at the Financial Times agree on this new interactive approach of making graphics work on mobile. However, the application varies depending on the available data and story captured.
“Some projects are much more interactive, where the user has to drill into the story and explore the data themselves, but other things are a lot more explanatory where we lay data out in a much more linear form – it depends on the data available and the stories that we want to tell,” said Financial Times Head of interactive news, Martin Stabe.
Stabe’s team of journalists is looking at new ways to steer clear of complex interactive data but instead tries to focus on the simpler self-explanatory news to be consumed on mobile.
Business and financial news app Born2Invest employs a similarly simple concept where its news stories ranging from finance, technology, business, and science, among others, are carefully curated in 80-word news summaries. This technology in delivering news stories is favored by its more than 80,000 monthly active users all over the world. The mobile news app is currently ranked third in the business category in Google Play, ahead of CNBC, Bloomberg and even the Financial Times.
“Our elevator pitch has never changed since day one: our aim is to deliver native, curated business news for every corner of the world in one app. This is something that has never been done before. It is also an extremely challenging concept,” said Born2Invest founder and CEO, Dom Einhorn in an exclusive interview.
Compelling content meets digital technology
Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism released a digital news report, Media, Journalism and Technology Predictions 2016, which enumerated this year’s key developments. The growth of analytics and data-informed decision-making in the fields of technology, marketing and most especially, publishing are just some of the highlights of this study.
According to the report, 76 percent out of 130 editors, CEOs and digital leaders surveyed, said that newsrooms should improve the use of data. Needless to say, fifty-four percent of those surveyed agreed that online engagement should be a top priority among publishers. The findings also show that data used by publishers should match users’ interests as well as the platform in which they consume the data.
With the continuing growth of mobile devices, it is no surprise that a ComScore study found mobile news consumption accounted for almost 60 percent of digital media time in the U.S. This confirms the growing popularity of mobile device ownership such as smartphones and tablets, as showed by Global Web Index 2015.
Previous data journalism focused more on interactives designed specifically for laptops and desktops. All these have changed since the inception of mobile and the dramatic shift to social media to consume content.
In the world of online news writing, there should always be collaboration among journalists, web designers and technology available. Just like scrollytelling, this ensures that news delivered is not only relevant and interactive but serves its purpose of delivering public information and interest. However, matter how interactive news stories are, if contents are irrelevant to your target audience, then it’s no good. Good journalism then must combine viable stories and interactive technologies to engage more people and deliver public interest.