Credit: Image courtesy of BBC Panorama

BBC current affairs programme Panorama is currently running its first digital documentary, through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and on the BBC website.  

The documentary, which focuses on the closure of the Redcar steelworks, will run until 25 December, when the coverage will have totalled 50 days.

"This is our first stab at a digital documentary," said Jeremy Skeet, editor of BBC Trending and digital development.

"We wanted to bring Panorama to a younger audience in a way that represents everything that Panorama stands for, but deconstructed into the digital space."

Audiences have been able to follow and engage with the coverage through short films, clips, stills, infographics, GIFs, text and blogs.

Day 15 of our Advent

Posted by BBC Panorama on Tuesday, 15 December 2015

"There are some big themes around this story, such as government policy, unemployment and globalisation, and then at the heart of it you've got a very human story of this town trying to get to grips with what is going on," said Skeet.

"I thought we should follow these people in the run up to Christmas, looking at how they are coping, how their life is changing and how they are looking forward to the future."

Videos posted on the various social media sites have had 2 million views so far, with the content as a whole reaching 12 million people.  

Coverage of the story has included an ongoing photo-essay called #‎HandsOfRedcar, for which journalists have interviewed various people in Redcar affected by the steelworks closure.

#HandsOfRedcarJohn, 46. "We knew the company were having financial problems because obviously when you’re on the...

Posted by BBC Panorama on Saturday, 7 November 2015

The audience has been able to interact with the day-to-day digital documentary through their personal social media accounts, and this engagement has helped shape Panorama's output.

"There was a big question about what should happen to the old steelworks site, so we asked the audience what should be done to it, then investigated it further and made a film with our findings," said Skeet.

The video is currently the most popular video on the site, having been watched almost 248,000 times.

What should Redcar steelworks be turned into?

A paintball arena?A nature reserve?Maybe steelworks?We asked what the recently closed #Redcar steelworks should be turned into. Here's your response

Posted by BBC Panorama on Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Panorama has experimented with the use of social media before while covering the refugee crisis earlier this year, gaining 1.9 million total video views on Facebook and approximately 9,000 views for each Snapchat story.

"We are learning a lot of lessons about what works best on digital – it is all about working out what a digital documentary should look like," said Skeet.

He noted that the BBC current affairs department is planning on experimenting in similar ways in the future, working with different platforms which seem most relevant to the story and audience.

"Panorama isn't going to go digital tomorrow – 99 per cent of it is going to be on TV, but we will probably experiment again with this, tying in again with the website. And as BBC Three goes online, there will be opportunities there to work with them," said Skeet.

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