Curation hand blue
Credit: Image by Thinkstock

As Al Jazeera English turns eight years old next week, it has developed from a TV channel to a media organisation with a multiplatform offering ranging from written news to interactives.

Al Anstey, managing director of Al Jazeera English (AJE), told the outlet uses interactives as a way to offer its audience a fuller picture.

"You can go into a story through interactives, you can navigate through it yourself and therefore engage with that story.

"It's an amazing technical tool, and through the interactives we complement the coverage on all the other platforms and the coverage on TV," he said, "so that you can go deeper and you can get a bit more involved in that story."

Telling stories built with people at the centre instead of policy, for example, is one of the core focuses of Al Jazeera, and interactives offer a way for the audience to "live and breathe the human story".

Al Jazeera's digital team was commended at the Online Media Awards this year for its use of interactives, and launched a newsgame in September enabling people to find out more about illegal fishing in Sierra Leone by taking the role of a journalist investigating the trade.

Anstey said Al Jazeera will be "evolving and progressing" its interactives firstly because of the need to keep up with and use new technologies.

"We need to be ahead of the game ideally, but certainly up with the game of technology," he said, "in order to know what we as journalists can do to best leverage it."

Aj Map
Interactive: Countries countering ISIL, screenshot from

Another reason why interactives have become an important element in AJE's digital storytelling is their role in the process of 'convergence', he said.

Convergence is a strategy Al Jazeera has adopted to avoid wasting content that did not make the final cut for news packages.

Anstey told this material that "doesn't necessarily see the light of day" can be tailored for different platforms and channels such as smartphones or tablets.

Before convergence, he said, some content may have fallen through the cracks, including raw footage and expert interviews.

"Whether it would be more about the person that's at the centre of that story, the human story," he said, "all of that content is increasingly being made available through our multiplatform delivery."

Making converge work in the newsroom required not only a change of mindset, but also of structure.

Anstey said AJE no longer has TV producers for example, but 'digital producers' or simply 'producers' as they are responsible for content to be delivered both on TV and digital platforms.

As such, AJE's competitors are now "other information providers out there in the world".

He said AJE is looking at how organisations such as BuzzFeed, Vice and Twitter are managing information.

"And we need to constantly learn, all of us together including those organisations, how to best leverage technology so that we are providing information with integrity in the best way possible," he said.

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).