Tap, swipe, read, watch. Don’t scroll, don’t flip. How to make the most of mobile with vertical video and horizontal storytelling.
Mobile-first has been a newsroom mantra everywhere for years. Until recently, that mostly meant adapting desktop features to a small screen. Video remained 16:9, articles and streams the mainstay of mobile web and apps.
Snapchat (and Tinder) changed that and now news organisations including the BBC, Quartz and Forbes (as well as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Medium) are adopting full-screen vertical video and/or horizontal narratives replacing scrolling with swiping or tapping.
It’s not just about design changes, these formats require new editorial thinking.
In 2016, BBC News launched Videos of the Day in its app – a vertical video service in which users swipe from one story to the next. It was a steep learning curve in a TV-dominated newsroom: the filming, editing style, pace and tone had to be different.
Working with partners on Discover, Snapchat has learnt huge amounts about episodic storytelling (both chapters within a story and stories as episodes) and vertical video. On both Discover and Stories, we have seen powerful journalism produced using the platform’s native features. Peter Hamby from Snapchat or someone like Yusuf Omar who uses it to great effect would give a very valuable perspective.
The session will start with a quick look at the relevant products/journalism to be followed by a conversation about the process of changing the storytelling, practical lessons learnt and how audiences engage with the formats. There should be plenty of time for questions.
How does your submission contribute to the diversity of the conference?
There will be gender balance between the speakers and they are likely to be of different nationalities and possibly ages and ethnicity. By looking at output on a traditional platform (BBC) and a social one (Snapchat) we are presenting different experiences and the challenges presented by serving different audiences. In terms of attendees, I am confident we could attract people from a range of professional backgrounds (from freelancers to startups to legacy), different ages and a variety of experiences. They will hopefully leave feeling confident about doing journalism on mobile, whether it’s on their own platforms or third-party ones. For some, this will be an opportunity to understand how they might reach audiences they may be struggling with.