Digital journalism and storytelling trends in 2016

Last week we held a 2-day Hackathon at Aftonbladet focused around the future of digital journalism and storytelling. Below we will summarize some of the most important trends and insights gathered when we tried to imagine what the future holds for digital journalism and storytelling.



User participation and engagement

A prevalent trend that permeated the entire event was user participation and engagement. Everyone agreed that traditional site comments are being largely replaced by social media and third party forums, with visitors looking to get more out of the content – be it in reading further information about, or discussing the content in question. Since many visitors are still utilizing traditional publishers as the go-to site for reading news, it might be possible to bring back the discussion into the publishers channel by inviting visitors to not only comment on, but collaborate with journalists and creators to crowdsource new factual information as well as approach angles.



Personalized and context-driven news

Personalization is a long-standing holy grail of traditional media houses, and the demand for tailored content experience shows no sign of leveling off.

Today we are consuming an ever-increasing amount of media, and doing it across a wide variety of channels. It’s been a long journey from a single desktop PC a mere decade ago to the multi-screen universe of today with mobile phones, tablets, laptops, watches and even digital billboards. But this change has not come without its growing pains, and chief amongs those has been adapting content to the medium in which it is consumed.

An important part is understanding that visitors are driven by context – for example, if your daily commute involves taking the bus, you might want to read short news snippets on your cell phone. On the other hand, if you are driving to work, you might prefer to consume the same media in the form of a spoken-word podcast. Experimenting with offering the same content in multiple channels is something multiple groups in our hackathon touched on.




Atomic content

An important piece of the puzzle to create personalized and context-tailored experiences is to split up long content into smaller, self-contained parts, or atoms. This trend already exists in the context of structuring webpages, so extending it to the actual content is a natural progression. An atom could be any piece of content that could be consumed, for example a chart, graph, short article snippet, biography or photo. These atoms can then be used to build a rich repository of data and provide visitors with the right information for their particular context or consumption channel.



Gamification and incentives

Gamification in the online space has so far managed to stand the test of time. From the perspective of traditional media houses there have been attempts at gamification, but so far the success in producing long-term rewarding experience for visitors is limited. At our hackathon we had some great ideas in regards to what that might look like.


What do you think is the most important trend in digital journalism right now? 

Join the discussion in the comments below!

Thanks to Veronica Wallström, Tim Holmberg and Anna Palmér for contributing to this post.
Image credits: 12

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