In the last year, Univision Noticias has gone through a process of digital transformation to shape its approach to online video, as a Spanish-language TV network whose aim is to "empower and inform the latino community in the United States".

Selymar Colón, managing editor and senior director for digital at Univision, told attendees at the WAN-IFRA International Newsroom Summit in London today (23 November) that, considering its TV legacy, the broadcaster's aim was to improve on how it produced and delivered video for online.

Between January and September 2016, Univision Noticias acquired more than 1.1 billion video views across its own website and social media platforms, and Colón said one of the biggest changes in its digital video strategy was to find the suitable pace and workflows before the newsroom started experimenting with formats.

Univision Noticias identified four 'rhythms' to approach online video, which she outlined as breaking news, social video, TV content and craft video – these help determine the team's take on stories.

However, it is often the case that all four can apply to the same story, as it happened with the organisation's video coverage of the Orlando nightclub shooting in June.

Univision Noticias started with a breaking news video on its website at 2am, showing survivors leaving the club. It then dipped into social video with a Facebook Live of news anchor Jorge Ramos on his way to Orlando, who gave viewers the latest updates before arriving at the scene, where the key moments were broadcast on TV for several hours.

The coverage was rounded off with 'Orlando gets its pulse back', a mini-documentary Univision published a month after the event, featuring interviews with three survivors of the massacre.

"Once you have identified the right workflow for your newsroom and you know what your story is, then you can pick the format."

Colón highlighted five formats that Univision Noticias has been focusing on:

Interactive video

The organisation published 'How a single piece of paper can change a family's life', an interactive video produced in partnership with creative production company Wondros.

Available in English and Spanish, the video showed what it's like to live in the US both as a documented immigrant and an undocumented one, enabling viewers to choose which version of the story they wanted to watch.

"To do this, we shot exactly the same things with the same people for both versions, and the audience is the one who can choose what happens.

"It also means that you can probably get the same person to watch the same video three times, as at first they play around with it before exploring the two versions of the story."

360-degree video

The US election gave Univision Noticias the occasion to produce 360-degree video, showing people the atmosphere inside the buildings where the presidential candidates were waiting for the results to come in and the reactions of Donald Trump aides and supporters when he won the vote in the state of Florida.


In May, Univision Noticias produced 'From undocumented immigrant to Harvard graduate', a four-minute video showing snippets from a particularly important week in the life of Norma Torres, a young woman who was about to graduate from Harvard University.

As her mother was living as an undocumented immigrant in Texas, Torres flew to Houston to pick her up before they drove the 2,000 miles back to Cambridge so that her mother could attend the graduation ceremony.


"This format sets us apart from the TV content we produce on a daily basis, and it also allows us to play a little bit with the story," Colón said.

An example is an animated video Univision Noticias created as part of an investigation into the cruising industry, produced with the School of Journalism at Columbia University.

"In this particular case, we found a woman who had actually suffered abuse while working on a ship and she agreed to talk to us, but didn't want to show her face, so we recorded the interview with her and decided to illustrate her testimony."

Drone journalism

In March, Univision Noticias sent a team to Bolivia to report on how the drying up of Lake Poopó, the country's second largest lake, was affecting the life of the community living in a village that used to be located on the lake's shores.

The broadcaster partnered with a local organisation in Bolivia to film and produce 'Fishermen in the desert', a four-minute video centred around drone footage of the area.

Website publishing vs social distribution

The next step after finding the right formats is to find out if they should live on your own platform or on social media, explained Colón.

On its website, Univision Noticias has focused on developing "franchises", which are special series, exclusive interviews and regular programmes, such as a weekly interview in which an immigration lawyer answers one question about related issues.

As part of its social distribution strategy, the organisation's approach to videos published on its website is to share a link to the content on social platforms, before uploading them as native videos 24 hours later.

Univision Noticias publishes video on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, tailoring its content according to the strengths of each platform.

"For me, social videos means we're back to silent movies, as the majority of people on Facebook watch with the sound off and we're competing with other elements in their newsfeed."

For that reason, most of its videos on Facebook are "text-driven and feature illustrations", while Facebook Live has worked both for "digital-first video and TV-style", depending on the story.

"For huge events like the presidential debates or election night, we didn't want to compete with TV on Facebook, so we connected the two and did some eight hours of programming on Facebook Live, gathering about 14 million video views in total."

In 2017, Univision Noticias will focus more on a video format Colón called the 'noon cast', a newscast happening every day at 12pm in the newsroom, which is simultaneously broadcast on its website, Facebook Live and YouTube.

"On TV, this newscast would be 30 minutes with commercials, which is actually 22 minutes of programming.

"But for digital, you have to produce those 30 minutes because you can't put in the same commercials, so in their place we will produce other types of content and it will be a different experience for each platform where people watch."

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).