NEWS published on 24 Jan 2017

Second part of Digital Media Days examines changes in storytelling

The second of the EBU’s inaugural Digital Media Days in Lisbon (23 – 25 January) shifted the focus from strategy to storytelling – in particular redefining how public service media tells stories in the digital era.

Over 200 experts from 38 Members saw, from a variety of speakers, how to tell stories faster and cheaper on social media but also fulfil their remit. They heard how to tell stories in a visually compelling way; how data can be used to create more relevant content and how to deal with fake news and create more immersive content. Sessions also focussed on how stories travel in a digital era via global podcasts and the importance of getting the audience to participate and giving them something back.

Opening Day 2, Nuno Artur Silva from hosts RTP said: “PSM has new meaning in a time when small companies are being bought by huge companies and Europe is looking for a new energy and a new definition.”

“PSM has to focus on diversity – if commercial media gives you what the majority wants then PSM has to be focused on what’s new, what’s different. This has to do with innovation – do things differently – we need to do new not just the same.”

And there were plenty of new ideas shared at the Belem Cultural Centre.

Miriam Hernanz, Head of RTVELab in Madrid showed how immersive technology is adding a new layer to audience’s favourite content and surprising them,

“Technology is now empowering experiences to make them more physically immersive. Virtual Reality (VR) has changed and amplified our possibilities,” Hernanz said. She showcased the VR work RTVE did at the Rio Olympics to allow viewers to go behind the scenes of 5 different sports to watch athletes in training.

Kåre Vedding Poulsen, Cross-Media Manager, at Danish Member DR also demonstrated the power of VR as well as showing “Coffee and Coke” a young adult novel where the audience influenced the outcome of the story.

“Look as your audiences as resources,” Poulsen said. “The population is one big brain that can work for you – we want to give our audience some sort of ownership, build a relationship with them.”

Karin Eder Ekman, Head of Social Media at Sweden's SVT echoed the “crowdsourcing” theme and spoke of the methodology the Swedish broadcaster uses to generate large volumes of content from audiences and cultivate stories on different platforms.

“This is process journalism; reach – engage – create – share and then do it all over again,” she highlighted. “We’ve seen 15,000 users of our services share their stories with SVT.”

The BBC and NOS from the Netherlands were present to show how they treated the migrant crisis with exclusive innovative online content.

Nathalie Malinarich, Mobile Editor at the BBC showed a short that demonstrated the “power of first person story accounts.” The film showing a young migrant’s journey from Syria using animation – that went on social first, “and then TV asked for it.”

“We showed young people who aren’t interested in news this clip and they said the story now felt more relevant and more personal. Digital gives us a way of reaching audiences that you wouldn’t reach with traditional broadcasts.”

Dutch channel NOS OP3 took a different approach to the same story. Social Editor Jonna Ter Veer said that it was important to find “that one piece of content that audiences will find as valuable as you do.”

“While others were zooming on stories of refugees we found another story in the crisis – that of a man on Lesbos who buries refugees who have drowned. It reached 2.4 million people on Facebook and won us the Vojn award.”

Múirne Laffan, Chief Digital Officer at Irish broadcaster RTE, and Chair of the EBU Online Committee, showed how they are meeting audience needs by re-imagining their catch up player - adding new exclusive comedy, food and lifestyle shorts targeted at millennials between the ages of 25 – 35 as well as launching new online channels.

“Those watching the shorts are watching 9 times as much as average user. Just because it doesn’t cost a lot of money doesn’t mean it’s not as creative,” she argued.

And Swiss Member RTS demonstrated how they are reimagining the TV guide with RTSbot – a video content discovery chatbot that offers viewers a new experience through a messenger app.

Mounir Krichane, Project Manager at RTS said “the bot guides users by means of a conversation and provides a more personalised experience. For example the bot can remind you 5 minutes before a show airs live and allows you to browse online content.”

Delegates also heard from Facebook on the power of their Live tool to allow broadcasters to create new stories “with no fast forward button” and how social media can cut to the fringes of society to tell difficult stories not given a lot of attention.

Yusuf Omar – a proponent of “selfie journalism” from the Hindustan Times said: “doing positive stories is driving more traffic on social media – people are desperately looking for stories of hope and change.”

The Digital Media Days event wraps up on Wednesday (25 January) with workshops on digital media and sports and news content production for digital platforms.