Digital media trends are changing the face of journalism
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Digital media trends are changing the face of journalism


– Yeah, good morning. Thanks so much everyone,
feel free to walk in with your snacks and coffee
we’re going to get started. Um, and my water, thank you. Welcome to this session that’s
called Engaging Storytelling in Journalism, my name
is Elizabeth Rach and I’m the director of industry
programs at Hot Docs. Our festival ended about
a day ago so I’m feeling rather fresh and very
happy to be here with you. And happy to have this
conversation about form and audience with an incredible group here that will present. Here a participating digital
editor from The Toronto Star, Matt Freiner from the
Globe in Mail senior editor and mobile interactive,
and we have Frank Furrito series co-creator, series producer and EP of CBC’s Interrupt This
Program and his co-conspirator creator, series director
and EP with this program. So this session is a
really interesting one and I was excited that
it is a key discussion of the Discoverability Summit
here to discuss really how journalism is changing to meet
the demand of storytelling. And it’s interesting
because when we started this conversation off earlier it was about these two areas, form and audience. How is form changing
as in journalism really where news and stories intersect. What does this mean for
journalists, what does this mean for storytellers, filmmakers and TV makers and actually what does
this mean for audiences? So we know that form is changing but now how are our audiences changing? How are they consuming
media in a different way and how are they contributing
to the media that we make? To put into a little context
of you know where journalism and story intersect and
our audiences’ desire and appetite for it
Hot Docs did a research two years ago and we asked
audiences when they’re not at our festival how
they consume documentaries and why are they consuming
them in whatever form and expression not just
the long form as we think of it, short and other
documentary factual content. And they said that it was
primarily for educational reasons they were accessing
this point of content, and I think that’s a very
interesting point to branch off of as to why audiences
are engaging in these stories. When we look at form and
how it’s shifting these days we know that news is more
than just information it really is a story
and the form is shifting whether it be in our
social media feeds whether it be shown from content
on broadcast we see the CBC announcing short
form docs and other new outlets that are
coming out and Hot Docs itself is partnering
with the New York Times for our filming personal
Hot Docs Blue Ice Fund to create short film content
from their future length films. So know that form in
all of its expressions of storytelling and journalism
is shifting as well. So when we begin this
concept in conversation of form and audience we’re
going to ask these questions to really try to get a
sense of understanding how has journalism in this form
changed over the past years and do we think it’s changed? And I think that’s an interesting
point to start a story. Um, where do you feel your
audiences have changed where do you feel the
content, the form has changed? – I think the format is
faster, the pace of stories is always like you know faster because we most of that to digital in television. So it’s changing a bit the
way we’re telling stories that the way we build
Interrupt This Program is rather than telling a
long story of 21 minutes we have four short stories
that are intertwined and for us it’s a new
way of doing television and it’s not revolutionary
we’re not the only one doing this but I think now it must be shorter, self-contained and because
they’re going to watch it on television but mostly
they are going to watch it on the web, on CBC art site in our case so we must adapt to this new format, yeah. – Yeah I would agree that
the template, the way that you package and put
together material has changed has changed to adapt the
delivery method as well so i.e. found more tablet
or social media etc. But the foundation the
foundation of reporting and what those stories
are meant to deliver to you I think is actually
improved in this kind of digital era in a way
that publishers are held way more accountable for
what they’re covering what they’re saying what
they’re not covering because you have an open
dialogue with the public instantly at your fingertips
so you know there really is no excuse not to get the story, not to get the story right. – Yeah I mean the audience
is completely changed I mean so I started at the
Globe nine years ago as a copy editor I would like
to ask if there was 25 copy editors for the newspaper,
that was our job right. Now our team basically is
in charge of telling stories on mobile for your
phone, packaging content for your phone and the audience
there may never pick up the paper may never read
the newspaper whatsoever, they’re coming to us
from search and social, we don’t even think about
desktop anymore we only think about the phone
because now more than half of the time we spend online
is on your phones, right? And you know just this
weekend we had a story on basically a mobile first
story here’s what’s happening here’s what’s going on
here’s the really like nuts and bolts of what’s happening and you know at any point 70 sometimes
80% of the traffic that soar is coming from search. So those aren’t even people
coming to the Globe’s website to find information
they were searching I think information before
we cried give it to me and we had to say we’re going to serve you with this really particular way of telling that story that resonates
with you as a search reader not as a newspaper reader. – You’re breaking into two
really interesting topics here one is really about
you know what the what I call it the feed
syndrome which is you know as you look into your feed and
things that you’re interested are being fed too so if
you’re clicking on other news stories, more news stories come to you or if you’re clicking onto
people’s Facebook posts that are posting about etc., etc., more stories are feeding
into you so there’s this curation aspect that is in one thread but the second thread
is that you’re referring to as well which I think
is an interesting point for this conversation is social journalism vs. just journalism and maybe this is an interesting point to kind of
explore those two notions. The one being the social
journalism in terms of a question of form
changing whether it be through Reddit or Facebook or Twitter you have real folks reporting on the news like faster than essentially comes out. I think you were talking a
little bit about the stories of you know images from Formic
Marie being on Facebook. How into these journalism do the sort of non traditional new sources
affect storytelling? – Yeah well I mean it
completely affects it right, so for a great example is
just the one that’s top of line but it’s basically the reader of the audience everybody’s
out there producing journalism and sent so
they’re saying here’s what’s happened which was
the goal of the newspaper or the news broadcast over decades was what happened today right we can’t say what happened
today anymore because that’s already been covered
by people who are there on the front we have give
the context we have to say you know in a sense curate it, pull it together figure
out what the most important pieces are, give the
context why does this matter you know what’s the response
across the country been, you know what does this
mean for policy what does this mean for the oil
stands what does this mean for copy in terms of the world’s coverage. So you really and the great
thing about it is that it pushes us to do that extra
right, they’re like so what? Right, we are there to say so what rather than to say such and such happened today. – I think you ignore if you
ignore the Reddit Facebook the Twitter and people
are actively contributing to that you do so at your
own peril and in a way this to me is an evolution
of consistent journalism you know and that’s
been around for at least I don’t know five ten
years in a way that it was in blog format, people
were self publishing you know publishers were
taking advantage of that particular material and in
some cases empowering them to cover kind of low
areas of news that they couldn’t they didn’t
have access to anymore. In this case we’ve got
this wide network of people all over the world who are
telling you what’s happening right in front of their
eyes and to Matt’s point you know our responsibility is to say okay we’ve seen this we’ve
acknowledged it what are we going to do now with it, i.e. the verifications huge huge, it’s a huge
responsibility that news rooms and publishers have and one
that we take quite seriously but again then we deliver
this material in order then to inform our
reporting and it’s something to certainly take advantage of. – When we’re thinking about
how you know story brings into journalism and journalism
is moving into story when you look at content
that’s being delivered through our social feeds
you know you were mentioning a little bit more about
how reformatted content is coming into our space
and what does that mean for you guys as television producers, understanding how the
shows that you’re making that are of a certain
format with an understanding of how to bring them
into where the eyes are, so they don’t need to seek find them. – I mean it’s an exciting
time I think you mentioned the short docs initiative
at CBC, the New York Times. I think stories are,
I think the two fields are coming closer to each other the lines are getting blurred like
at one point I think it’s about telling the story
with a more human approach rather than just the news factual approach like the, about a year
ago the New York Times did a series on how ISIS is
recruiting around the world. You know we’ve all seen the news stories but they took a more human approach and I think that video went viral. It was three friends, one jihadis, and it was two friends
that were explaining how one of their friends joined ISIS but it gave you like such
a ground level approach to the crisis just by
showing you that these are regular guys that
are trying to figure out their situation living
in peril, living in Egypt in a crazy situation and also like how one of their friends just got
completely indoctrinated into this organization. So I think that’s it’s
a very exciting time where like the storytellers
and the journalists are sort of coming together to change the narrative in a way. – And as TV producers
and it’s great because we have like multi platforms. You have the TV show but
you have Facebook, you have Twitter, and that’s fantastic
just to promote the show. The first reflex as a TV
producer is to be wary of the social media like I
was speaking to a producer yesterday and she was telling me you know I don’t like posting
my content on Facebook. And I told her no just
go just post it online you know this is where we’re
going we must embrace it. And we have successes in
Interrupt This program like we have some folks some
digital folks on Facebook that reach almost one
million persons and that’s way bigger than the ratings
that we have at CBC. So resistance is you know– – Futile. – Is futile, we must
embrace it and be present on Facebook and Twitter. – And I mean I agree but
I’m wondering when it comes to these different feeds
and our social feed there’s also a lot of advertisement there so how do you address,
and I’m going to use this term quite loosely
but the media literacy of our audiences to
determine the difference between you know what is
advertisement and what is story? – I think it’s, we need
a brand that’s like very powerful like for
instance our show with other brands is not Interrupt
This Program it’s not small small production
company is Montreal it’s CBC. You know so we carry this
brand, yeah there’s lots of information on social
media but I think like a strong brand like CBC is
something very attractive. – Yeah with the New York Times
partners with documentary makers right like they’re
putting their brand behind that and then it emplifies
it and also gives it that kind of verification, you know that’s the power of branding like that. – I’d say then on the other
side you know Facebook and Twitter are actually
quite good to work with in a way that they have sets
of guidelines themselves in a way that publishers
are going to present that material to a readership
so you have to adhere actually to very strict labeling
identification what this content is. The trick in my view becomes
kind of that sideways consumption let’s say through
search through material that you know Toronto Star
publishes on the native side you know we put labeling
and different disclaimers around things but it’s always
a conversation internally to say you know we don’t
think the reader recognizes what sponsor means we don’t
think the reader recognizes what partner means and we’re constantly searching for ways to
really kind of clarify that. Again though going back to
kind of the trusted brand in the way that have an awareness of it, we’re conscious of it
we’re not there to trick anybody with it it is just
part of our business model however there might be other publishers that you know don’t adhere to
the same rules I would say, but it is an evolution of
continuous conversation because it isn’t always
apparent but going back to a reader having
loyalty to trusted brands that have established
themselves as you know reputable sources of information I think is really important. – That brand that interweaves that notion of curation and
discoverability are completely connected and whether it
be our social media feeds or it be you know
discoverable on other forms like a private platform
that’s where we still need to come back to those notions. When we’re talking about form and audience and I’d be eager to see
we talked a lot about what’s happening in Canada
as producers there’s this great question
here, do you notice that perhaps in journalism this
is particular to Frank are interacting in different
ways to the countries that you’ve been traveling and covering with Interrupt This Program? – Yeah like we shot in
Ukraine and IT and Columbia and what’s striking when you arrive there is that there’s no free
press I mean the press is owned by other guards
in the case of Ukraine like by big families in
the case of Columbia. So there’s like a big mistrust
towards the traditional media and that’s very striking and
just to put you in context with our series we’re
going on some young local journalists they work
as fixers as researchers and it’s striking to see that
yeah they are journalists but they are also activists
and extremely outspoken and critical of their own government. That’s something very different from what we have here in Canada. And what’s interesting is
that there the traditional media are not interested,
those young journalists they don’t hire them they’re
not interested in millennials. Like by doing research for a show you know the first reflex is you’re going to look for media and try to find
stories and the characters you’ve found most of
them weren’t even covered by the national media. I mean we find them we
found them through fixers, through sources on the ground
and that’s a big difference. – At the same time they’re
using the technology to like the most striking example in Kiev is there’s crowd funded news organization that was started by freelance journalists who were independent
journalists who were fed up of not getting the unbiased reports on TV so they just started their
own online organization called tromatsky.tv and
it’s like it grew from like this small it was like
in a basement of someone’s house where they were
like just posting stuff online and now they’re
like a very very prominent news organization that
most of the country goes to to just get the real
deal on what’s happening in the country. And it’s mostly it’s
a mix of like you know seasoned journalists and
young just you know go getters that are going out there
shooting the piece, editing it themselves and
just putting it online. – So as distress for
certain curatorial voices shifted in regions new ones
came up it’s fascinating that they were crowd
funded and crowd supported by reinforce this again
you know all the things that we experience as
journalists and storytellers that the democratization of
media through our social media connections is what
drives these interests. That’s very fascinating to
see how those home grown voices come up, do you feel and see some of these things happening
in Canada as well whether new sources of curation are…? – I don’t think we’re
experiencing this like in Canada. I think it’s a good thing. But I don’t know. – I don’t think you’re
seeing young journalists I think there’s a lot of
it will be worked with on the Canadian side you
have to have journalists going out there saying you know what need to be we need to make our
mark so I’m going to go to Kiev and find cool
stories and just try to get some commissioning editor to be interested in this a guy that just
flew to Colombia that I know said you know what there’s
stuff happening in Colombia you know with the peace
talks I’m going to be the first one there so whenever
there’s a story I’m already packaging it you know to
get it to someone out there. – And do you think that
they’re working differently with news outlets to
help get those stories out by working through
more the traditional television and documentary funding areas? – I don’t think, yeah? And we even met this one
journalist that this woman found it in Beirut she
was like this traditional journalist working for
LBC covering the garbage crisis in Beirut and she
thought that they weren’t doing enough you know to
denounce that situation and so she resigned from
her job and just started covering the story herself
and posting it on Facebook, of course telling the stories to big news organizations but yeah
they take the matters into their own hands, we
don’t want this in Canada we were just talking about
our experience elsewhere. – It’s an important and
insightful way to see you know how the form of journalism
and storytelling is shifting in different regions but
also what it dictates to us is about audience consumption. The demand for accessing
this information wherever it comes especially from
a trusted source or from a source that’s growing
trust because the stories they want to see covered
aren’t being covered in traditional media. I imagine she had a great
following on Facebook and it continued to grow
which really forced her to continue to do that work. And this is sort of the
crux of this intersection around great storytelling and
around you know reporting. And I want to bring it
back to understanding more about you know those
audiences are going to be in Beirut or Colombia we’re
mostly accessing these again through mobile I
imagine and of course maybe through other you
know desktop or et cetera but what does it mean for
our audiences consuming through different devices,
whether it be mobile or desktop and I know
that both of you guys have experienced whether it be at the Toronto Star and Global
Mail about the difference of content for mobile vs.
content you know for paper. – Yeah I mean when you
look at how traditionally you’ve assigned a story for
print and you’ve laid out and you sort of have that
print vocabulary of you know this is a page of a photo
and a big headline then a chart and you know a
caption over it or whatever like you kind of scan that in wee bits and pieces of that story and then maybe I read
halfway through it and lost interest in that and I
sort of scan over two other stories that are like that
kind of structure of a page that has sort of existed
for hundreds of years doesn’t exist at all anymore on your phone and we actually need to
strip away all that think about the story in a really linear way. Because really what we
need to do is to try to keep the reader’s
attention on your page as you’re scrolling
through it because if they get bored they’re going
off to something else, they’re going off to Snapchat or they’re going off to Twitter. You want to try to save,
kind of keep the reader engaged with the layout or
the way I wrote this story or the images or charts I’ve
chosen to put in this story in a way that gets them just to stick around and hopefully read more. – Yeah and you can add even
another layer of complexity to them in a way that
when you talk about Wimble and you’re talking about kind
of a traditional article page for you know Global browser
but then Snapchat is a valid point you know so talk is
kind of publisher where we’re already I can see
publishers dealing with complex, mobile products, tablet products
which from my perspective at least my organization
they’re all kind of unique amongst themselves and
have different strategies and outputs put around them
and then you add in a layer of mobile of social and
Snapchat and a lot of the different areas of which
in order to grow audience publishers have to be
present and so then you’re facing kind of a distribution
model of you know five products plus you
know 35 channels within those products like it just grows and grows and grows and grows. And so those are kind
of those real diagonal time challenges in terms of storytelling you know how do you serve
those particular properties you know with a suitable
storytelling format in order to drive your audience and then the question being the
monetization behind that. – Yeah you basically,
Facebook, Google, Apple, Snapchat have all come out
with their own distribution structure and platform that’s
become an open journalist or the newsroom to package their content. So now we’re not only
saying we’re going to design this story for your phone
we’re saying we’re going to design this story for
your phone for a Facebook listed article, for a
Snapchat story and it might be completely different. Like we’re going to design it from Google and that means that Google has said you know we’re going to you
know give extra credence to stories that are designed
using this code spec that they put together which
is a technology problem but it’s also a
storytelling problem because their code spec doesn’t
let you use Java Script which sounds like okay that’s
fine but that’s the crux of the internet that lets us do interactive content right. So it means that we have
to actually kind of almost rethink how we’re
structuring, you know stories for each of these different these different distribution channels. It’s really really difficult. It’s exciting but it’s tough. – I think that this is where
TV makers and filmmakers come into play as well
because I mean it’s really the key is editing like
video editing I mean I’m an editor by trade
that’s why I believe in that like look at the way the
Guardian packages their pieces, look at the way AJ+
does their pieces online their eye grabbing text is
huge you know they’re music graphic is huge so I think
there’s a new learning curve that’s happening
where people are finding new ways to present the information
in more like subtitling is now huge because they
know it’s going through your news feed you’re
probably not going to see the audio but the minute you start reading the text you’re like oh this looks interesting and then you click on it. – Yeah that’s a perfect
example of how video has completely changed for
your phone and for Facebook it’s a perfect example,
you scroll through the feed you don’t have headphones
in and then the text comes out and you see it and
you’re often watching a video with no sound whatsoever
so it’s caption plus images plus really striking visuals
not necessarily sounds. – Yeah it’s again adapting
the storytelling for the device and the
platform because otherwise if you’re sending video
out there the expectation that people are going to
stop what they’re doing put their headphones
on and play the audio, we’ve lost about half of that audience. – And what’s interesting is
that even us the dinosaurs of television we can do
it, you know we did it for enjoying this program so yes we can adapt to these new technologies. – So did you repackage
into smaller video chunks for Facebook, so you would do two or three minute chunks and subtitles. – Yep, it was also extra
stuff extra footage that we planned to shoot
ahead so it was material and content that’s feeding
into the show as well because in the space that
a half hour of television is 22 minutes it’s not
enough to tell the story of four artists around the
world so it’s extra material, yeah it was television material. – And real stories that
I remember ten years ago when we were thinking of
the digital strategy you would think you know I’m
going to show something behind the scenes of the
show you know but who cares about this anymore? You know so it’s real stories that we put on Facebook on Twitter. – And what’s interesting is
even though these are tighter, shorter, maybe they’re one
minute or minute forty, that are grabbing people’s
attention how do you feel that the click through ability to get to the deeper programming, is it do you feel with the programming has driven you know the data it’s driven to the shows? – Yeah there was a correlation
when we were posting things on Facebook and
Twitter like a week before the broadcast of the show you know
where we got lots of traction on social media the ratings were better. It literally drives people to the show, and I know we say that
it creates community you know but it does you know it’s true. – Just the numbers reflect. – That’s actually a good
example because we banged on immigrant communities
in Canada because you know huge Ukrainian Canadian
community, huge Asian Canadian community and the Haiti episode was the highest rated because it got such word of mouth from Haitian Canadians living in Montreal. Even we got write-ups
in Bolga so I think it’s like the show’s spread out
also by the artist communities that we’ve created in all
these different cities like people were actually watching it to the end which we shouldn’t
say they’ll be worth. (laughter) – I think it’s these examples
of you know the celebration of the form kind of in
all of its expressions so even these shorter
expression that are one and two minutes into longer
form that are 22 minute episodes or as we’re seeing in field
of vision or other platforms are bringing in the eight
minute into the seven minute form and those are similar
to the stories coming out of the Guardian and the
New York Times Hot Docs. – I just want to say
something we were talking about platforms and like
oh this is the pipes like where is the content
going, but what’s fascinating is that we live in a world
where we have so much access to diverse content. And that’s great you know as a TV producer I’m blessed and I think
what we’re seeing right now is that there’s a thirst for
like compelling new content and I think it’s the
millennials that are forcing us I know on television
to bring that content on TV like I think it’s great. The discussion about the
platforms is just it’s relevant of course but good content
will always make its way. – It’s good content and
it’s just can you package it in a slightly different
way that takes into account the technology by using storytelling is there people who want that. – And short form is feeding
the long form I believe, like it’s teasing for you
to go see the slightly longer piece the more
in depth more researched that took a longer time to edit. I mean there’s also something
good about short form is that there’s a bit more
freedom because the confines of television still are
about a commercial break at a specific time and
short form you can do a two minute and a half piece
it could be three minute ten seconds you know there’s
slightly more freedom editorially and physically
in an editing point of view. – And also the stories
can be quite satisfying when they’re told in
the time that they need. We certainly see that at
the festival and the work group we’re doing with short
form that we say that sometimes you don’t need a feature length film, that the story actually
really just gets there in twelve minutes or
six or eighteen and that is a satisfying expression
of the story so we’re supporting that work
especially when the audiences are there for it online and
you know also in theatres and other places. So we see that working. – I wish I could just add
to that from my perspective in the news room I’ve been
at Star for almost ten years and digital has really
brought a discussion of long form to the
forefront in the way that it’s always been the
skill of a reporter to say I should be telling you
this information accurately and succinctly, it doesn’t
mean that it has to be a hundred inches it
doesn’t mean that it had to be twenty inches you’re
supposed to evaluate the story and give it the
space that it deserves. So that question that’s
always lingered as to whether long form was going to go
away never really bought into that notion because I
think long form was overused at a certain point and
maybe still is, technology and delivery methods have
certainly again shaped that and brought the discussion to new paths, but if the story needs
this amount of space it will get that amount of space and at least from the data
that I receive you know we’re seeing mobile
consumption be 50% of the time more on those longer pieces and that’s just been growing and growing and growing. – I think we get used
to reading on our phones that there’s no problem in
someone spending ten minutes fifteen minutes to read a long form we see it again and again. – Or still reading by the paper. We were just discussing before. – That is true. – But the paper is getting smaller. – This is true. Um, when this is a question
that I want to take a lot of time on because
I think it’s the notion and the crux of this conversation here on our discoverability,
is what steps do each of you take to really
ensure that your content is being discovered by viewers or readers? And we’ll take it in turn
but I think it’s going to drive a lot of dialogue
like what is it exactly that you’re doing to ensure that that content gets, that is discoverable? – I’m going to say
something that sounds maybe too simplistic but stories that are new, stories that hasn’t been told and good content I think is the key. – Best ingredients. – No seriously I think it’s
where we’re going maybe I’m over optimistic but
I remember ten years ago in television we were
all doing the same thing we were doing format TV
you know designing doing demands and we are all
doing the same thing now it’s so diverse and
there’s no excuse you have this liberty to just create
content and get it out there you know and I think that
is the key to be discovered. – But the issue is that the
headline can make our break, you know for us right we
spend so much time optimizing what’s the best headline
for this for mobile what’s the best headline
for this for social what are the different tweets we can write off, we spend a lot of time you
know it used to be okay we’re going to publish this
5,000 word feature we’re going to put it on the website
and people will love it because it’s a great feature
and then it gets not traffic. People must not like long form But no people like long form
we’ve just go to tell them why, why should they care
about this story right. You know that’s the key
of writing the right type of social promotion using
the right types of images, using an animation or whatever
just like those tricks I mean they are tricks but it’s
like how do you get someone to click and then deliver
on that after right. Because you’re seeing in
your feed or seeing almost breaking news alerts how
do you phrase something in a way that makes
them want to explore it? – I mean our counterpart
to this is as TV makers is the demo. To us when we decided
to do the show we just flew to Beirut on our dime
and stayed with family and hooked up with four
journalists from Toronto who just happened to be in
Beirut and we shot something in three days we ended up with
a 22 minute pilot you know we’ve put together two two
minutes demos that sold the show. I have a friend who is doing
a doc that was commissioned at Hot Docs last year and
she put together her demo using YouTube clips and
it looked like she went and shot in Bolivia and
Japan and France you know. So we have incredible
tools at our fingertips that can help us get
discovered, that can help us sell our ideas because
I think it’s more than just saying you know I have
this great idea it’s like how are you going to put it
together is another thing. – The packaging and the
marketing of the story, we talk a lot about in
funding films and certainly in the pitching forum on
Hot Docs which is like the dragon’s den in film
finance you’ll hear a story being pitched and the
title just does not match the story and it’s the first
thing the commissioners say which is like I will watch this film but you have to change the title and share exactly what it’s about. The same thing when you’re
titling work there’s so much content out there
and how do you compete with you know free dancing cat videos. – I love dancing cat videos. – As we all do. – And you know other
escapism in Game of Thrones and wonderful things and
then within the media journalist take and factual
and documentary landscape there is so much attractive
content but how does it, you know how do you help
it to push on so we hear about packaging we hear
about titling we hear about whether we are
presenting the work for funding or presenting the work to audience. What else are we doing to ensure that content is discovered by audience? – From my perspective
any way I’ve seen changes within my organization to
recognize you know the change in audience behavior so
the shift away from direct traffic you know to your
website and how then for producing this great content
which we feel is great and we stand behind them 100%
how are we going to reach our shifting audience gain
a new audience and I think traditional publishers
have been slow to adopt this but I see the change
now in the way that we’re being very careful
in delivering in terms of evaluating all
distribution channels that are available to us so that
would be to the social media as well as partnering with
influencers in communities who are already basically
doing great things and have kind of these niche
audiences that we see some really key partnerships
with, as well as just you mentioned tools, there
are tools there are really great tools whether
algorithmically based or ones that can actually assist with
a template and constraint only that are out there
there are vendors doing some really really great
things and again really traditional publishers just
being open and positioned to take advantage of all
those things are really where in my opinion we need to be at. – And broadcasters I think
access to broadcasters has never been I mean so
it’s not easy but it’s out there like the Hot Docs
of this world the Real Screens you know you go there as
an independent producer and you meet with Netflix
and Vimeo and Vivid and it’s, that’s also very
exciting like you don’t have to be an established
production company to actually go and present something. – Those larger platforms
that become more accessible for content creators
and it’s a similar vein as we’re seeing sort of the
accessibility of platforms by soliciting journalists
although you know everyone is thankfully doing their
due diligence to make sure that the content that gets
out there is verified. It’s interesting because
when it comes to this notion around discoverability it’s
something that certainly at the festival I’ll try
to compare it to there’s that burden as well and
we really understand that our brand is the discoverability
factor as a curator for this so that you
maybe never if you don’t, you know you’re in the
market for a documentary it may be short it may
be long but you don’t really know which one and so you can rely on that brand of Hot Docs to
be able to help you find it. And whether that you’re in
partnerships with iTunes where we have a store
in Canada or the U.S. and audiences can find the content that way or other places whether it be… Then it helps to draw different
discoverability elements. So those partnerships those
curators those greater communities that you tap
into as a content creator or as a platform itself
are really critical to reaching those key
communities and audiences. – Yeah yeah we so we’ve
done a lot of reporting at the start of CBC, the
last year and a half or so, and what they did that
was key with that was the movie started as a
project we put together advisory panel experts in the community and in the government to
help us understand how to tell that story better
and then when we were publishing pieces of that
story we reached back out to them to say here’s
a piece that we think your community would like, can you help us get it to the right people. And we have a lot of the
stories that get huge amount of traffic on
Facebook and it’s not the traditional audience it’s
the average sharing that story along with within
their own group and saying that this is a story
that’s important to us we want to help emplify it. And so that’s really I
think what Eric was touching on too was like finding
those influencers or other brands to help promote your work. – And discovering new
platforms like look what the FB’s doing the interactive docs, section of the FB I find
is like the least known but it’s the most powerful like
high wise it’s discovering that you can tell your story
in a totally different way, like a friend of mine
who did Ports of Cabo went and shot and shot and
shot thinking he’s doing a feature length doc
and in the end we guided him into saying no we can
do this interactive portal where people can watch
these different stories separately in like the most
beautifully designed interface. – Your dynamic yeah, dynamic
interfaces that and certainly a different form and
expression of storytelling that is you know we’re happy to celebrate but I still think one that’s
struggling to find audience. – Especially the non
narrative work that’s really difficult to guide an ear
through like the higher stuff is so compelling and so
amazing there’s so much great content there. They have a lot of
trouble finding partners you know we’ve partnered with
New York Times, but having, to get enough of an
audience for that content. – And especially where
we see and I know this is not direct on topic but
it is another expression of storytelling whether
it be VR and how we access those spaces because many
you know news media platforms have become outposts for
VR whether it be your publications in New York
Times and getting VR goggles out to people and then
actually using it as a place for discoverability for this
new form of storytelling. It has a lot of like deep
journalistic principles and documentary principles within it. We certainly have been
doing our best to expose audiences to this work but I think I agree it’s the translation of
seeing it be ubiquitous across where we’re just
chatting and a friend’s like hey have you seen
that great VR piece. We’re just it hasn’t quite
saturated in that level and I wonder why do you
think that is in terms, when we have all these different ways to deliver this content to? – Well VR specifically is
really difficult because people don’t have the tools
or technology to watch it. Right so the New York
Times launch their PR app they partnered with I think it was GE and Austin Video Audio,
to sponsor shipping a Google cardboard with
every single print subscriber and that’s millions and millions
and millions of dollars. – Those cardboards are not cheap. – Yeah they’re like a
couple bucks each to furnish thousands of subscribers you
have to pay for the packing and all that kind of thing right, so we have a VR piece that was in Hot Docs as sort of a demo and
really like the problem for us with that is like
how do you get that out to readers in a way that
gets people to actually download and look at it,
short of partnering with a corporation to get the
technology out there. It’s really yeah it’s difficult. – I have to say I was at
a Google Summit I think it was two weeks ago and
they way that everybody’s interested in playing
that space because it does lend itself really well to
some storytelling opportunities and as Matt pointed out
cardboard is a bit of a barrier. And even currently I think
it is that on YouTube you know the VR movie YouTube
video isn’t accessible by iPhone yet so I think
that it’s good we’re having this discussion because
if you talked to Google or YouTube they would
tell you then two years from now they expect
this to be everywhere. And so you know for publishers
to get in on the ground level and at least do
some experimentation kind of like identify what those challenges are it’s an important discussion
to be having right now. – But it can also, when you
talk about VR we all trying to get that immersive
experience, everybody wants to create that experience where you feel you’re there and I think
traditional documentary has been doing it for a long time. Right now you’re right it’s
just getting that technology to be so easily accessible
and it’s doing like a there’s a gaming company
that we know and work with in Montreal that’s
beginning to touch on the possibilities of
what a VR and documentary because you’re right it’s about creating the most immersive experience
possible for the audience. – Yeah it’s such a new form
like what I do for our project, we took it out to demo with a
bunch of sort of technologists in Toronto and one thing that we, you know everybody who
had worked on project they were all sort of
five foot ten six feet tall right, that shouldn’t
be a problem design is simply an immersive experience
for them they’re kind of curating the space and one of the women who tried it was four foot ten. And she said as soon as she
put the headset on she felt like she was floating
and it was a completely discombobulating experience, it actually felt kind of nauseating right. And there’s all of these things VR and how people’s physiology
reacts differently to it. So we have no idea even
how to use the technology and then you have to try to really force the storytelling form
right, so that was actually was a really kind of
humbling bit of feedback, lowering the default
height in this experience so it didn’t quite as
difficult for some people to use it but things you would never know or even think about before you actually put it on people’s heads and try it. – The form is still in a
nascent and exploratory place but it is exciting you
know, we had a discussion at Hot Docs about putting
VR on trial and really deciding like is it the new next big trendy thing you know to save documentary? You know the festival’s over. But I think the crux of it
is that we will be faced again and again and again
with dynamic new technologies that affect story and that
engage audience and as creators as platforms and as
curators of this work our responsibility to these
forms is to explore them to celebrate them but
also to make sure that and it’s according to what
all of you have said time and time again is that story is king. You know a great VR experience only exists because there’s a strong story in it. Interrupt This Program
engages audience into season two and three you know
because each episode as well as each little short
bit that you’re pushing through into social has
strong story behind it and you know these two
publications have stayed at the forefront of readership
because of the story they engage with so we’re
very proud of ourselves for having very a positive
panel before we jumped on board here to say like you
know story is still it. Like that is the root of
it and to really drive discoverability comes into
story and then good curation to drive that. I feel like we’ve covered a lot about. – I’m extremely optimistic
you know yes story is king we will survive,
television will survive I believe you know but it
needs to be funded I don’t want to be a bitch like a
producer does because we sometimes think that
because we’re like moving towards slowly towards
or fastly towards digital because of new technologies
we can just do like hire a young journalist
and he’s going to shoot a story and post it on Facebook and it’s going to be a success. You need man power you
need researchers you need camera and how to work it,
directors, it just doesn’t happen like that you know? – Well this is that notion
of that the consumption model and the business
model are not quite aligned. It’s something that you
had brought up a little bit earlier and you know Matt
in terms and even feel free to you know explore
this idea that we’re not about to dissect the business
model for online media on this panel but you
know in the short term how do we as platforms and as
creators deal with this issue? – So at the Globe I’ll just
say that we’ve recognized that advertising is not
going to save us and that it actually has been very
freeing from a storyteller point of view so for
our team our big focus is on long form in depth
investigative work, immersive journalism, storytelling tools that really really amplify
the way we tell stories on mobile and the key
with that is not there to drive pay use, they’re
there to drive people to come back over again
and they come back enough that eventually they’re
pulling their credit card to subscribe to the Globe. We’re not going to win
with using click pay and you’re never going to
win when 80% of the whole advertising revenue goes to
Facebook and Google right. So we know that that’s
not our game our game is subscriptions as a private
company so how do we best send there by producing great journalism. So the overlap there
at least at this point in time is actually quite
strong so I’m happy about that from a selfish
journalistic point of view. – Say from the Stars
perspective we used to have a digital prescription
model which we no longer have so our approach is
a little bit different in the way that it’s
based off finance growth and new product development
and the new products arguably length that derive
higher CPM and we made that mobile we haven’t quite
figured that particular piece of it out yet I mean
me collectively largely. And when we’re looking
at what we want to do next and spaces that we
want to play generally kind of break it up into two buckets, one that does have a revenue opportunity for us whether either it be
through Facebook articles or something like that
and you know evaluating that and kind of what the
benefit is to the Star versus the monetization prospect. But we also haven’t lost
sight of just innovation and what can we then carve
out in order to say okay we may not stand to be financially
successful playing this particular space however
it’s really important from the storytelling
perspective, it’s important for the audience, it’s
important for our objectives in terms of growing our leadership to getting our content out there. So it’s a daily balance
between kind of those two buckets and again we were
trying to look to additional product development in order
to support that as well. – I think for getting in
television and for producers is just to be pertinent
and intelligent you know. Stop doing what everyone’s
doing you know a format show you’re going to watch
it and then you’re not going to stay there’s
no point of producing and doing always and always the same thing and we must arrive with an alternative and have compelling
content and good content. And with good content
I’m confident that TV will still be there in ten years. Maybe we’re going to
watch it on a different platform I don’t know
what holds the future. – But I think it’s also
thinking about your content as a flexible as a flexible
piece like Journey Box or Vimeo told me don’t
think of your series as five episodes think
of it as four stories four artists times five
that’s twenty mini episodes on Vimeo subscription
based you know so you have to start thinking in
different models as well as you’re doing your long
form or short form see how they can fit on different
and in different venues. – And trust your content
I mean when we doubled up and start this program
everyone told us you know you’re never going to get
a green light you know and we got a green light
and when we were working on the concept we decided to
have one Canadian character in each episode and
everyone was telling you you’re never going to sell this elsewhere, no one is interested in
having a Canadian character and we sold it the states and to Sweden. So just trust your content be
pertinent and you’ll be there. – And approach your story
very innovative you know you like how you say it’s
four artists it’s five stories it’s like it’s not
necessarily those 22 minutes that we were forced to
box in so you know both of those perspectives from
platforms different creators are really pushing innovation
that’s how we’ll deal with that in the business class. In the time that we have I’d
like to bring to the floor for questions and open
up this conversation. Don’t all raise your hands at once. Yes? There’s a microphone right there. – Hi, so I work in public
relations and part of our job is to help brands create
compelling stories and then talk to me and ideally
get those stories shared. So what can we do as PR reps
when we email the media? Like I know you were talking
about animation and videos, okay if we pre write tweets
like what can we do to make sure when you get
these compelling stories they make more sense or you’re
more likely to use them? – I would make sure
you’re doing the research and finding the right
very specific right person to target that because
we all get inundated with so many movies. I’m a probably a bad habit
from your point of view of finding all the laces
that have attachments of like over five to ten
MEGs just delete them because it fills up your inbox
and I can’t send any emails, but so I got a release
yesterday from this proctology firm that put together sound and images of Fort McMurray before and after. And that was a very perfect
targeted press release to a particular group of
people within their user data. That has very very timely effect right? And so we looked at that and said this is actually something really useful. I mean it’s more research
I think on your part probably to find the people
but I think developing those relationships and conversations is probably the best way about it. – So knowing the audience
that you want to target I would chime in and say
hiring the right storyteller to make sure the pitch
that you’re offering is that authentic genuine story even if it’s branded supported content. We talk a lot about
documentaries that are supported by brands which is like
when do those two intersect but they’re starting to quite successfully and throughout the long
form and short form and it even when the brands
were not even mentioned in the story we see a
lot of that work we did an entire workshop on that
today and at the festival we’ll see more that this space can explore, so yeah good question. And there’s one right next to you. Oh right back there thank you. – [Voiceover] Yes hi I’m
really inspired by the stories that are coming out of the
big press like the Globe and Mail and CBC, Toronto Star. I live in a smaller
community and I’m not seeing that kind of engagement
at the local level. Our small papers are
just very much sticking to the old fashioned
model every now and again they might tweet something
out but there’s no community engagement at
that level so what are the solutions for some of
the smaller communities to get into this level of engagement the larger communities are? – That’s an interesting
question, one because I think our local communities
have really been hit hard by what’s been happening
throughout the industry you know there’s probably
a map that exists out there somewhere that
shows you kind of where news outlets have
disappeared over a period of the last ten years and
kind of what communities are being underserved by that
and we’re only now trying to kind of understand
the implication of that. So that’s one, but two
those that remain I think it’s a knowledge transfer it’s education it’s getting kind of
those outlets to get up to speed I guess you could
say on really how news is evolving and the
distribution of news is evolving and unfortunately I don’t
know if there’s a real simple solution in the way
that I think it has to start from within or it has
to be asked for by that particular community surrounding them. I mean certainly you know
from the Toronto Star’s perspective, we are meant to serve the GT as a whole and beyond and I would say even on a day to day basis
we struggle with that in the way that we’re
conscious of the fact that we may not be getting
our particular message out to say the Browndmans or the Vaughns or over into Pickering
and really kind of not acknowledging and telling
their stories as well too. All this to say I don’t
think there’s an easy answer however you know if there
is some type of incentive or motive, incentive by
the community in order to ask for more from those outlets then maybe that would be a beginning point. – Yeah I think the
journalists at those elements by and large are really keen. So I was at a conference
training session in Halifax over the weekend with a
bunch of Atlantic papers, really small papers, like maybe with two or three journalists and I was struck by the career journalists
there I mean they’re 25 27 years and they’re shooting
stuff on their phones they just need a little
bit of extra training on like how to produce a
video with their phone, how to shoot a photo how to do a little bit of audio and how to tweet. Like they’re just they
want to learn so badly there’s not a resistance it’s just what tools do I use and how do I do it. And it’s actually kind of practical training that’s really needed. – Resources and training. And I agree as you
mentioned before opportunity for partnerships seeing more communities maybe come together and
create larger partnerships. – Well one thing just like
an interesting anecdote is that some people have,
so the BBC is coming up for renewal to get their
license with the community and there’s actually kind
of a push amongst some in the UK that the BBC
should be offering some of its technology to local
media outlets because the big problem they also
have is they don’t have content management systems
or publishing systems that allow them to do
the type of storytelling that’s really great so
in the UK some people are writing that if I
pay x amount of money to the BBC should that
technology that I’m funding, the technology that they’re
building also benefit other Star outlets? Which is a kind of interesting
and fascinating argument. Because technology is
such a gray area too. – Good point. – Great question. – We’ve got a question over here. – Hi, I was wondering if
you could just step back from the actual story and talk a bit about how the overarching
editorial is maintained in your respective companies. So you know you made
the point about the Star being 100% behind all
the stories well somebody actually selects I assume what goes first and what is leading off during the day or during any period of time. As more and more
information comes at you how does that process of
filtering and deciding okay what’s going to be muddy what’s going to be the scoop and focus my resources on. Is that changing or is
it essentially the same? – Interesting question. I would say that what social media and particularly and
arguably just the internet has done for publishers
is that it’s made us more aware of what the public
would like us to cover so there’s less of that
you know it’s changed our operation in a way that
you arguably used to have about ten people sitting
around a table in actual literal closed off walls
to the outside world versus now we’re seeing streams
of information come into us all day long that we may say that in the morning this is
really what is happening and where it should be
placed versus at five o’clock at night that’s completely
changed just given what’s emerged in our communities
and what’s you know what are emerging stories. What I would say as well is that, sorry I’m blanking on that for one second. Um, that there still is
the aspect of at least in particular to the
Star we have a very very firm mandate and its
foundation is in social justice and that comes up daily
within every however whatever lens we’re looking
at an editorial file. So there are a number of
those factors that come into consideration when
we’re trying to kind of set that editorial file
into place but I think it’s only improved over
the last number of years with first party data, social media, kind of a better understanding
and knowledge of our audience and also layering that
over our firm mandate as to what we stand to serve and
bring to this community. – That’s a great response,
yes question over here. – [Voiceover] You folks
talked about packaging stories for different pipes,
different mediums and so on. Are you also packaging for
different demographics? Like a story would you have one refinement for an older audience and another refinement for a younger audience? – Kind of implicit in the
pocket words I guess right? – Yeah. Yeah like I would say so we have three distinct products at the Star. We know the average age of the
consumers on those products, we also have our target
demographic we would like to achieve for reckoning
purposes on those products and also for audience growth and longevity on those products. We keep that information
front of mind when we’re assessing a story, when
we’re looking at what’s covered and kind of back to your question. Is it practical for us or
is it even possible for us to kind of rejig a story three times? No, so in some cases you
know a print audience might be underserved by
something that we’re targeting specifically for, or just
naturally falls into play on a mobile first or a social Snapchat type coverage you know
that the goal is balance but it’s very very difficult
to achieve I would say. – Yeah like you know how
the technology to target by specific demographics if you wanted to. The analytics that we
have tell us what yeah what the primary demographic
is for a particular platform and we keep that it mind. But I think it really comes
back to what’s the best way of telling this story
on this platform for people who use that as a tool of
consumption more than anything. – And an interesting
thought I was chatting with someone about
Snapchat and they’re like if you don’t know what it
is you’re told to use it. – That’s not true, that’s not true. – But I think it’s an
interesting point to understand that it’s really the pipe
that dictates the demographic and not necessarily the story. – Yeah even Snapchat
like they are Snapchat, like Buzzfeed is doing
a lot of really great original investigative
journalism Snapchat, most your journalism is
on Snapchat that is not, Snapchat’s more demographic
than most of the journals out there but they both
see that overlap right? Snapchat wants their audience
to grow and even be older and Wall Street journal wants
to reach you know younger, business savvy. And everybody’s using Snapchat right? – You can follow the Star
on Snapchat and Toronto Star news so we’ve covered the
messy trial for Snapchat we have a bunch of different
series that we’re just kind of you know getting our
feet wet in, we do kind of a fast Friday car review every Friday, we have a beauty section every Thursday. Again that’s kind of the
stuff that I put in that bucket of we’re not, there’s
no rubbing opportunity for Canadian publishers
apparently that’s it’s really been hiked off for U.S.
publishers or national publishers at this point, but for
us to say as storytellers that we don’t want to be
in a highly visual, fun, you know interactive
platform I mean we wouldn’t be doing our jobs at that point. – It’s a struggle from a
staffing point of view in terms of like so Wall Street
Journal has five people who use Snapchat for them
if that’s their full time job title, right like we
don’t have that luxury. And so they’re pulling
from many shirts they’re pulling from here and
saying oh can I get a couple hours to do something for Snapchat? – And as a creator of that
content as well, you know you’re even dividing your
hats up even more to say okay I need my feed for Instagram,
my feed for Snapchat, my feed for Facebook and
Twitter and what am I doing with this content to
make sure that it reaches all these different outlets? – Well looking at social
media under the assumption that my own question for
you guys like is that a just recently somebody told
me there’s a certain time of day where it’s the best
time to post on Facebook or on Twitter. I mean you guys obviously look at that in terms of when does the story need to go out to get the most. – Yeah and we have a
program that we use in order to schedule that but it
still requires a person sitting there putting
into that program as well too so we certainly take
advantage of all the data that we have to say if
we’re making the decisions to align with current
resources and staffing as well. But that helps right it
helps in a way that we know would be arguably the
most effective that we can be given that we’ve got
that information coming in so for us in particular
you know weekends are a huge opportunity
on mobile and social as well as evenings and
early mornings and so making some of that again you know
I think it was the initial question that I don’t
know if we actually talked about but how journalism
has changed over the last ten years, that to
me is a change and a huge advantage because
previously in terms of even what stories we wanted to
tell and how we wanted to tell them, you weren’t flying
one but you were just making those decisions based off
your gut instinct and I think we will all always go back to that. Like end of the day, 100%
gut, however there are all of these other tools
and information that we have at our fingertips that help
informing better gut check. – Our chief likes to say
you have to gut down right like you knew what the gut’s
saying for a long time, it’s time to pay attention
to the numbers and figure out what the right
balance is between gut and data and that’s
what we’re trying to do. – And that’s the notion
of like you’re saying, journalism hasn’t changed
but the delivery of it has and understanding how to
feed it out to those people and to audiences is
really what is and similar with you take to the long form documentary or series documentary
work it’s the same space. Do we have another question or two? No, final thoughts to wrap
this up we’ve got just another minute or so in this
session or so before lunch. What do posted likes for
audiences in this space? In terms of you know how
they engage with you how they work with you you know
you were saying earlier before that audiences
don’t necessarily dictate what they want but when
you change something that’s when comes it up for like wait
I love that bring it back. And as a consumer what would do you want to tell what everyone says? – Well maybe just
starting off on that point we are here like the
foundation of what reporters and publishers do is to
create dialogue and community and yes we might have an
office space over here however we are accessible and I
think it’s going to be just on us as well to show
how accessible we are and how we would love to continue
that dialogue so that we’re proactively and
collaboratively making decisions with our audience and
readerships versus us, I think giving the example
before, us taking something away and then having a
revolt happen after the fact. So you know I know from
on the Toronto Star side we do surveys, we have advisory panels, we do ask for people to kind of join us in those conversations and so
passioned and active readers I hope they would take
us up on that call and… – I think that one thing
is this morning they were talking about keeping that
audience at the center of the conversation and
to me it’s not just about catering to that elusive
millennial audience it’s like making them part of the dialogue like for us we work with
seasoned, older professionals in our forties but we also
work with twenty year olds who are researchers and
directors and so it’s like it’s that dialogue that
you need to bring them into the conversation so
that you create something more pertinent at the end
of the day and I think it’s yes it’s about new
approaches but it’s also about experience, you know
we come from a television world but the television
world has bee a big school for me in terms of how to tell story in its most impactful way. – I would like to say to
the audience of television is please don’t give up on us. Don’t give up on us
you know we’re changing to be there and I think
we’re getting better. – I agree. I agree they ask for it the
audience asks for curation they ask for discoverability
they asked to be directed to in what it feels like
and it’s really why this conversation is such a
positive one is that platforms are understanding better
how to connect with them, ah I can’t even speak
this morning, creators are discovering how to reach
them and curators are understanding that space
as well and so as these different mediums sort of
intersect it’s nice that we keep story at its core
and you know work hard to get the delivery
out to those audiences. This has been a dynamic
conversation thank you all so much to Neil and Frank
from CBC’s Interrupt this Program and to Matt
from the Globe and Mail and Erica from the Toronto
Star thank you all so much. (applause)

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