A group of Italian journalists have told stories of urban development in three Italian cities using a boardgame-inspired approach to Instagram.
The project 'Un gioco di società' (a game of society) tasks users to navigate step-by-step through different Instagram accounts and features.
There is a main account from where the different levels can be accessed by a tag on each of the posts. Each city represents a level - Napoli, Roma and Milan - which explores how the cities have been transformed by tourism and gentrification.
The account bio offers instructions for the user to proceed to its Stories Highlights and its roadmap-like posts. What follows are video interviews and infographics which breadcrumbs the user through the story.
Screenshot from: Un gioco di società Napoli
"We think journalism has to go to people and not wait for them to come to you," said co-author Matteo Garavoglia.
"The platform is perfect because it has space for photos, videos and graphics. Instagram lives with this kind of content on it."
The project was born out the non-profit organisation Centro di Giornalismo Permanente (CGP), a collective of freelance journalists.
Garavoglia's group - consisting of co-authors Maurizio Franco and Ruggero Scotti, project lead Lorenzo Fargnoli, image and video editor Marco Mastrandrea and graphics editor Stefano Sbrulli - went on to win one of Italy's most prestigious journalism awards, The Premio Roberto Morrione, for experimental investigation.
"We've tried to show that using Instagram is not just a hobby, but it is also for reading a complex story," said Garavoglia.
"I don't think it's easier for the audience (to understand the subject), but it's another way to approach the context of a story. If you create a roadmap with the Stories, photos and good content, maybe its more impactful."
I have just found this and I am 🤯😍— Francesco Zaffarano (@FraZaffarano) October 24, 2019
A group of Italian journalists used Instagram to create a social-first investigation on the urban development of Rome, Milan and Naples
It’s built like a board game and you should absolutely take a look: https://t.co/0ZgCVWKUNg
CC #hhldn pic.twitter.com/ROR3w9oOrh
The project asks the user to persist through the various stages. Mapping it out the way they have, Garavoglia said, means a large-scale investigation like this can, in fact, allow audiences to be more selective.
"It was always a concern with user experience design (that it would be too complicated), so we tried to make it simple.
"We have created four accounts to divide every chapter of the story. One user can use these platforms to read specifically about Naples, and then just turn off their phone."
So far, there has been modest return for the project in terms of followers, but reader comments have been encouraging.
"The overall impression is good," he added. "Not just for people in journalistic sector, it creates a sort of relation between us, the authors, and the readers."
Future plans will extend the concept into other Italian cities historically impacted by urban development: Venice, Palermo and Florence. The group has launched a crowdfunding campaign to make this possible.
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