Interactive Stories: Behind the Scenes


Digital delivery has largely taken over our scope of news since our “goodbyes” to printed journalism. No longer are we accustomed to turning the pages. Instead, we take our hands to touch-screen compatibility. With this newfound fame of news digitalisation and interactivity, the online newsrooms have been taking a knack at longer, informative stories of rich content which audiences seem to engage longer in.

“Making sure news organisations are delivering increasingly rich content is important and it’s what people want,” – Mark Zuckerberg

While these interactive stories look nice and pretty, it isn’t simple to perform the task, according to ABC News journalist Matt Liddy. To incorporate interactivity is expensive and requires more time and effort for the team in the newsroom which includes designers, developers and journalists . The amount of work can be underestimated, with visualisation and presentation overshadowing the accumulated work and effort for the final piece.Therefore, he says, there is a need to evaluate the risk worth taking to satisfy both the team and the consumer.

Not only that, Matt says the job is only partly done after a story is published – the newsroom still requires to monitor the performance of the story post-publication. If necessary, they make need to make changes such as a headline or sentence tweak in order to “tease” the audience and stir higher engagement.


In terms of telling a story, Matt says there is no right way. He also says the possibilities of showcasing interactivity are endless. Whether it be text with photos, interactive data or visualisation, he says there will always be something that works along the lines. With such a broad scope, journalists will come across challenges when starting off with the story’s initiating idea. Questions like “what do I need”, “who is the audience”, or “what needs can I serve them and what do they need to know” all plays into mind.

After all, it is the audience we need to win over, right? And that is where we need to start off – making sure the story meets the audiences’ needs.

Today, audiences are hooked onto their mobile phones. Readers are now viewing these stories while waiting for the train, or having their lunch. Therefore, Matt says it all amounts to whether it is presentable on the mobile platform. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. It is a technological age after all, and our various smartphones of Apple and Android are now a part of our daily routines.

Ultimately, the core message behind interactive stories is just the same as whether it is print-published or broadcast: to tell a story the audience desires, as Matt says. After all, the key word in “data journalism” is “journalism, not “data”. It is to tell the story, not present data.




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