Binge-watching complex stories. Editor’s Lab finale in Vienna.

For the second time, Vienna was chosen to be the place where Global Editors Network Summit was held. Part of this big gathering of editors, journalists, startuppers, technologists, VCs and academics was the finale of Editor’s Lab series of hackathons held worldwide. Together with AszDziennik, our team went there due to the success back in March, when we won the hackathon in Warsaw with the tool FollowON.

 Together with Rafał Madajczak (AszDziennik) and Paweł Mikołajczuk (Outriders’ guest from Sourcefabric), we formed a team once again. Challenge we faced was different but not that different from the one we had in March. As organizers wrote:

“Keep it simple, stupid!
 Reporting complex news”
With large-scale news stories unfolding over periods of weeks or months, it is easy for readers to lose track and therefore lose interest. How can media organisations make these types of stories more understandable and compelling?
With news bombarding us at a head-spinning rate on multiple platforms, which products could make it easier for readers to grasp complex topics like the Syrian conflict, the Panama Papers or Brexit and not succumb to information overload?

So, here we were among teams from many continents trying to crack this problem. And for us, being among such well established media was already a big win:

Looking for solution

Problem with the complex issues is that they are, well, complex. So we wanted to actually understand what makes them harder to cover and how they differ from “simple issues”. There is of course stereotypical understanding of what a “complex issue” is but once you dig into this, it stops being obvious.

First of all, what makes them complex for a reader:

  • Interests,
  • Culture,
  • Religion,
  • Geopolitics of location,
  • History knowledge,
  • Time (complex issues have usually a longer timeline and different readers might find out about them at different stage of development)
  • Noise (platforms, algorithms, interference in receiving news)

Then we started to think — what if our reader group has all the skills, knowledge needed to understand issue right away but newsroom is not ready. In order to be able to report on complex issue we think the team needs to have:

  • Specialised journalists,
  • Access to experts,
  • Foreign correspondents,
  • Already covered parts of the story,
  • Time and money,
  • Willingness to follow up

Presenting, The Binge
Here is our presentation from the event:

Movie of the working prototype:

And designed looks of the solution:

What’s next
 We got a lot out of this year’s participation — met new people tackling similar issues who are a great inspiration to us; were able to present our initiative to a big, international group of media professionals in Vienna; but most of all, tons of good feedback about Outriders which we will shortly implement. Parts of The Binge similar to FollowON (our tool from Warsaw event) will end up in coming website of Ooutriders’ too.

Originally published at on June 28, 2017.