Tag Archives: guardian

The Guardian creates the refugee game

Again, The Guardian. They have a new interactive story dedicated to Syrian refugees situation, and their hardships to find a safe haven far from the civil war afflicting their homeland.

The premise is that you are “a 28-year-old Sunni woman from Aleppo, and you have two children, a girl aged eight, and a 10-year-old boy. Your husband was killed in a mortar attack three months ago. The air strikes have continued – a recent bomb, you hear, killed 87 children – and you now feel you must try to leave Syria.”

At the end of each section, describing different scenarios faced by real refugees, dictated by legal, logistical and political parameters, you are presented with options. You have to choose carefully, to find refuge. The results are – to say the least – bleak.

The game logic applied to this story is a good way to empathize with the refugee situation, it looks simple, and it’s frustrating enough to gain awareness about the issue and, in the comfort of our homes, step into the refugees’ shoes.

Glass ceilings, transparency, taking risks and a flashback

In all my naïvety I wrote this in my previous blog:

May 19th, 2009:

Imagine you’re a reporter after chasing a major story, it involves loads of data, there are many different sides to the issue, and people to interview that have specific knowledge about it, be it technical, scientific, or just exclusive. Good journalists always delivered good stories on their own, and covered all the necessary angles to the subject. Working alone means full control of the process, from start to end, and a fair amount of discretion, secrecy, that often resulted in exclusives, the former bread and butter of good newspapers. But what if the process was public, and open to everyone?

I’m not saying all of the process, but some parts of it. If a journalist is snooping around, asking questions about something, doors will close anyway, that will open with new information and the need to answer, retaliate, whatever –  sometimes a statement comes out of conflicting views. But the saying goes  “two heads are better than one”, and if we ask for users to help, many minds will work for the same purpose.

The crowd could gather data, process it, provide input, suggest questions, and the journalist – besides having to do all the things he’s supposed to – would coordinate all of these contributions. This would improve the relationship between the users/readers and the journalist/story/brand. But if you are not a fan of full disclosure before publishing, why not do it afterwards? Release the videos rushes, the full audio, share the documentation and data you gathered in an open database. The advantages? Trust.

The Guardian did this now:

October 10, 2011

We often report big breaking stories as they happen, but have you ever wondered what stories we’re working on – and what’s about to drop? To help you find out, the Guardian newsdesk is opening its doors.

You can now see (below) a live account of our plans in the form of the daily newslist kept by our editors. It provides a glimpse into the scheduled announcements, events and speeches that make up the news day. You will also be able to view what our editors think about the stories by reading their updates on Twitter in the panel opposite. We will include conversations we have about the day’s news, story ideas we get from our correspondents and the latest information on stories that we get during the day.

We won’t quite show you everything. We can’t tell you about stories that are under embargo or, sometimes, exclusives that we want to keep from our competitors, but most of our plans will be there for all to see, from the parliamentary debates we plan to cover to the theatre we plan to review. We reserve the right to stick to our guns, but would love to know what you think.


Why do I keep on doing this? To convince myself I wasn’t that naive.


Timeline: how the Guardian did what I wanted to do

I once defended timelines as a great way to tell a story and to provide context to the facts. I also defended that news companies should be aware of their archives, and the value they have. Well, the Guardian used both to document two years of Blitz, on the 60th birthday of the beginning of the German bombings.

Guardian's timeline with archive referrals

Basically, this is a slideshow with a timeline navigation, with some info on the side, and some links for the original articles about that specific event. It’s a simple and very effective way to tell a story that unfolded for quite some time. Count the words of the side notes, and how they’re written: concise and clear. The link to the archives will give you the information about what happened through the voice of the journalist who witnessed it, lived it, more thoroughly. How many other stories could rehash these bits of History? Could journalists be a bit more like historians, also looking into a more distant past instead of focusing on the now?

This is just another new journalistic narrative, and one that could only work online. More, one that grabs all the potential of the medium. How do you feel about this type of narratives?