Snapshot from 'Introducing “Follow This”: A New Netflix Show From BuzzFeed News'
BuzzFeed News has been shining a light on its reporters in its own Netflix show, allowing audiences to follow their work as they explore the cultures and communities of the internet.
Now in its second series, 'Follow This' sees Buzzfeed News reporters like senior culture writer Bim Adewunmi undertaking a range of activities, from firing a pistol to riding in a horse and carriage, exploring topics such as African-American doomsday survivalists and the Amish romance novel industry.
The aim is to take audiences on a visual journey through the life of a reporter and demonstrate the experiences that journalists often have to get a story, explained show runner Jess Harrop,
“You want the audience to feel like they’re experiencing it with us," she said.
"I think the reporter is in some ways the stand-in for the person on the couch."
Harrop explained that the 'behind-the-scenes' style seen in Follow this has been popular with viewers, who are not often informed of how ideas are developed in the newsroom and the decision-making process behind the final product.
“In this culture of fake news, we wanted to peel back the process and show some of the personalities and teamwork in the newsroom," she said.
Each weekly episode only lasts 20 minutes, and have been released weekly unlike other binge-able series on Netflix.
“In my head I think of it like Twitter, where for the longest time I felt like 140 characters meant you were forced to be concise, witty and smart," said Adewunmi.
"At least you are striving for some distilled goodness.”
Although short-form documentaries are in many ways harder than long-form pieces where the show is afforded more room to ‘wander’, Adewunmi said it helps to prompt audiences to explore further reading or on a topic that has them hooked, or pick up more information on how they can use the reporting techniques for themselves.
Harrop explained that the stories chosen were often those which reporters had some history with — as was the case with Adewunmi’s previous piece on a romance publishing house.
“We wanted stuff that wasn't necessarily based directly on the news cycle, because we needed them to feel relevant for months to come because Netflix is obviously this evergreen platform,” she explained.
“Then we looked for topics that were thought-provoking, that people weren’t talking about and would start conversations.”
Before Follow This releases its third series, check out our podcast with Adewunmi and Harrop here, to find out more about how the video streaming service is helping BuzzFeed reach wider audiences.
Trying to find new ways to appeal to younger audiences? Gen-Z is on the agenda at our upcoming Newsrewired conference on 7 November at Reuters, London.
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