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Keeping up with ‘Storytelling’
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Keeping up with ‘Storytelling’

Parvathi Mohan

Parvathi Mohan

Back in 1983, Knight-Ridder, an American media company specialising in newspaper and internet publishing attempted to bring news in a computer-like format to its readers before the print hit their doorsteps. As bold as it was, it was slow, expensive and a little too far ahead of its time.

A little later, the American Newspaper Publishers Association (ANPA) conducted a yearlong experiment and assured newspaper publishers that online services were not a threat.

In fact, the spokesperson at the time stated, ‘There is no danger to the American newspaper industry from electronic delivery of information to the home.’

“Newspapers had survived radio. They had survived television.” According to the ANPA, they would survive computer networks.

Fast forward to 2018, with the passage of time and the ‘world wide web’ as we know it, digital publishing is definitely here to stay. Storytelling and distribution media are expanding faster than newsrooms can catch up.

The New York Times (formerly known as The New York Times On The Web) was the first to launch a website to serve news in January 1996. The same year in India, The Hindu was the first newspaper to launch a news website.

The Drudge Report (which, in the late '90s broke the Monica Lewinsky story) gathered what it considered to be the best stories from numerous sources all in one place. News aggregation had begun.

CompuServe, convinced Associated Press to give away their copy for free—all by portraying it as an experiment. 
CompuServe, convinced Associated Press to give away their copy for free—all by portraying it as an experiment. 

The year 2003 saw the beginning of e-papers and that led to the Sony Libre in 2004 and Amazon’s e-reader Kindle in 2007. Hindustan Times became the first Indian newspaper to be made available on the Kindle in 2009. And in 2010 came the iPad.

In 2005, The Guardian, experimented with a weekly podcast series. In India, storytelling through podcasts has just started to pick up, most recently with podcasts by MoneyControl and The Indian Express.

NL Hafta, the podcast from NewsLaundry is nearing 200 episodes today.  In 2017,  the series was moved behind a paywall based on subscriptions.
NL Hafta, the podcast from NewsLaundry is nearing 200 episodes today. In 2017, the series was moved behind a paywall based on subscriptions.

Stig Nordqvist presided over WAN-IFRA’s digital media and business development activities from 2003 until he passed in 2014.

He had said that he envisaged millions of people accessing up-to-the-­minute, broadsheet-quality news on small handheld devices that can stay switched on longer than most people can stay awake.

Voice Interfaces are changing the game as well. Early on, Voice Assistants were built on content that was just picked up from existing news with barely any editorial effort. Now publishers are fast moving towards establishing their own voice and brand through voice interfaces.

While Smart Speakers (Google Home, Echo Dot, etc) are kicking off on one side, mobile is still the most preferred device for digital news consumption.

Visual Stories, another contender, is a new visual storytelling format that was launched earlier this year. Vox Media, The Washington Post, Mashable are some of the leading publishers who piloted this immersive content format.

Google has also been experimenting with TWA - Trusted Web Activities. A new way to integrate your web-app content such as your PWA with your Android app.

TWA was launched this quarter with Chrome 69.
A demonstration of the new visual storytelling format, AMP Stories, created at Quintype.
A demonstration of the new visual storytelling format, AMP Stories, created at Quintype.

While newsrooms can adapt, storytelling formats are evolving faster than ever. There’s a growing need for a new class of publishers - one that can switch and reconstruct according to these changing formats, enabled by technology.

In 2018 alone, storytelling has seen the emergence of,

  • Video formats, IGTV being the latest on the scene
  • Audio formats, such as subscription based podcasts
  • TWA, your web-app as your android app
  • Voice Assistants, such Amazon Echo, Google Home etc
  • AMP, now with Visual Stories
  • Subscriptions, driving monetisation

Technology is expanding and delivering storytelling formats concurrently. While your newsroom gears up, talk to us at Quintype.