Less than two years ago, The Washington Post created a small visual forensic team. This pandemic-born team consists of a handful of specialist reporters analysing and verifying open-source, on-the-ground videos from major news events.
Off the back of that, the team started to publish reconstruction videos which piece together how complex news moments have unfolded, like the death of George Floyd, the siege on the US capitol on 6th January 2021, and an award-winning piece on the crackdown on protesters before Trump’s photo op in Lafayette Square. Many (but not all) of these videos rack up views in the millions.
In this week's episode of the Journalism.co.uk podcast, we speak to executive producer Nadine Ajaka who leads that visual forensics team: a team which is now expanding twofold thanks to the impact and resonance of their work. It is a sign that The Post is seeing value in this style of social video journalism and wants to double its efforts and output.
It has also launched a related but separate project, pulling together a database of verified UGC videos from the Ukraine war, and put them behind a paywall for both general audiences and other news outlets who can use the bank of footage, if credited, in their own work without the resource-intensive work done by The Post to source and verify them.
Ajaka talks about the logistics of jigsawing these complicated news stories together with a remote team, weighing up a time-consuming medium against a time-sensitive story, and the potential revenue model driving the strategy.
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