Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

Idea 007: breathing new life into old content

Posted in Ideas for the future of news, Journalism by Adam Westbrook on March 19, 2010

In Ideas for the Future of News I’m collecting positive, tangible, practical examples of business models, products and content which could pave the future.

To catch up on previous ideas, head to the Ideas for the Future of News page.

Idea 007: The Independent’s News Wall

By: UltraKnowledge, The Independent

Headlining today’s Digital Storytelling Conference in London is Andrew Lyons from UK company UltraKnowledge. He’s introducing the company to more than a hundred journalists and showing them the work they’ve been doing with the Independent newspaper.

I met up with Andrew earlier this month, and it seems while many journalists have been worrying about the future, Andrew and his team of coders have been coming up with solutions. They’ve got a very forward thinking mindset, and what they’re doing could breathe new life into old content.

So, introducing the Independent’s new “News Wall.”

It’s accessible by going to http://search.independent.co.uk and is essentially a visual representation of the Independent’s big news stories on a given day.

Rolling your mouse over any of the thumbnails, puts it into the larger window on the right hand side and gives you a preview. It is, in its most simple terms, a visual way of searching the days top stories, and gives the user a much more interactive experience.

A real boon for subs, reporters and editors everywhere, this software does not require any manual SEO or tagging work. It’s all done automatically.

It goes beyond this though.

Firstly, you are able to search for words, people, events using the box at the top. And when you do, you are presented with a visual representation of your search results, which is nice too. What makes this approach clever is the search results page generated automatically becomes a permanent static page on the Independent’s website.

The result? Without any extra work by journalists, the Independent’s website has grown exponentially – this search I did this week pulls up more than 100,000 new pages since News Wall’s launch a month ago. These pages have been created by visitors to the site using the News Wall.

Thirdly, the News Wall is also searchable by date. You’ll eventually be able to type in any date since the Independent launched and get a graphical search result. And what does that mean? Thousands of articles, currently consigned to history, will have new life breathed into them. New sponsorship, new ad revenue.

Imagine if this was done with historical archives.

The people at UltraKnowledge are busy doing some other awesome work which I’m able to mention yet. But keep an eye on them: they’re a great example of how anyone can play a role in the future of news, and unless journalists change their mindset, it won’t be them.

Storytelling in the digital age

Posted in Adam, Journalism by Adam Westbrook on March 19, 2010

It’s one of human kinds oldest acts, against the most intense technological revolution in history. How do storytellers adjust in the digital age?


For answers, turn your eye to the Digital Storytelling ’10 conference today in London. I have teamed up with the people from Not On The Wires to put together an afternoon of inspirational speakers and events for journalists, academics, entrepreneurs, digital experts and students.

Fact is, there’s a big need for a conference like this. Why are journalists still telling stories in old ways with new technologies? As Alex Wood will explain in his opening remarks, why do TV journalists put traditional print on their websites, and why do newspapers put mimics of TV news packages on their websites?

Speakers include the multimedia producers SoJournPosse and Duckrabbit, as well as technical pioneers like Demotix, Blinked.TV and UltraKnowledge.

New ideas for the Future of News

The day wraps up with the March edition of the UK Future of News Meetup, where we’ll be using some unusual techniques to drum up lots of new ideas for journalisms big problems.

Follow the hashtag!

To keep up with events today, follow the hashtag #ds10 from 1300 GMT and #fong fromĀ  1830 GMT. There’ll also be live streaming, with all the details right here.