Chartbeat‘s list of the 20 best stories of the year showed “readers really do respond to quality (!!),” said Jared Newman, the web analytics company’s blogger. Their criteria was engagement time. Unsuprisingly, the top stories were long-form.
The most popular story, ‘What ISIS Really Wants’ by The Atlantic, received more than a million page views on the day it was released and thereafter got around 10,000 views a day. ‘A remarkable 25 percent of desktop readers read the 10,500-word story to completion’, said Rick Edmonds, who wrote about the success of the story for Poynter.
Second on the list was Wired‘s Science behind the much debated color of the blue/black or white/gold dress, followed by live coverages of the Paris attacks from different publications, the British election, confessional essays, impassioned arguments, investigations and elegies.
“These are the stories that prove that digital storytelling isn’t just alive, it’s kicking ass,” Jared Newman, Chartbeat.
Big data, interactive graphics and visual stories
In 2016, “illustrations will live up to their true potential online”, Sisi Wei, investigative journalist and developer at ProPublica told NiemanLab. She predicts that this year will be a ‘big, bold and colorful year’ for digital journalism.
The Washington Post‘s collection of their best 2015 graphics, on all sorts of subjects such as gun violence, climate and terror, showcases the skills of their team. It includes a database of police shootings in the US, a touching visual story on a family’s journey from Aleppo to Austria, and a quirky quiz to find out how happy your country is according to the World Happiness Report.
The New York Times’ amazing list of best visuals kicks off with a graphic of Japan’s new satellite system that offers a view on the globe from 22,000 miles up in the sky, followed by a visual story called ‘Illuminating Korea’ from photographer David Guttenfelder, one of the few foreign journalists allowed access to the reclusive state. Another NYT infographic shows how at least eight gunmen involved in mass shootings in the US managed to obtain weapons regardless of their criminal histories and documented mental health problems.
Good old photography remains an undeniably powerful medium, underscored by an amazing collection of 42 best images of the year from Time Magazine, featuring many pictures of the refugee and migrant crisis, the Paris attacks, and Congolese miners searching for diamonds in DRC.
Podcast: hit or miss?
Audio storytelling, through podcasts, has had a mini revival but is still reinventing itself and heading towards professionalisation and platformisation. Many media experts expect the podcast industry to explode, providing listeners with better content and an improved user experience.
Nicholas Quah, who heads audience development at Panoply and writes the weekly Hot Pod newsletter told NiemanLab that the future of podcasting is not guaranteed, unless producers, companies and technologists that love and believe in the media make it work.
For inspiration from last year’s best podcasts – whilst waiting for the next episode of Serial season 2 – have a listen to Vulture’s top 10, which starts off with the talented Anna Sale, whose ‘Death, Sex and Money’-podcast is labelled the ‘best interview podcast of the year’ by the author of the list, also a member of Panoply‘s audience development team.
For a lighter type of content, there is Buzzfeed’s ‘Another Round’, created by Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu. According to Vulture, a culture site of New York magazine, this podcast about about gender, race, identity, power, life, pop culture and so forth is ‘funny, smart and effortlessly powerful’.
And lastly, the ‘really special’ podcast ‘Song Exploder’ which provides listeners with a ‘behind the scenes’ on how songs are created, inviting the actual composer to the show. ‘Probably the best use of the podcast format ever’, says Vulture.