On February 24, the world woke up to war in Europe. People had a huge interest in the news from the start. In all news organisations, major effort went into planning coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
At Dagbladet, the discussion about how to cover a possible war had been going on for a while. Dagbladet, which is Norway’s second largest newspaper, has a 153-year history of covering war and conflict. This situation meant there was not only a political alarm but also a journalistic alarm. When it simmers and burns, our team at Dagbladet must do what we can to take a journalistic lead with coverage.
While covering this war, Dagbladet has not only increased its number of readers and viewers, but the news media company has also strengthened its position. Dagbladet’s war coverage has consisted of many things, but here are three of the most important things we did:
1. Strengthening the news desk
The news desk is at the heart of our news organisation. As the war broke out, Dagbladet reorganised the news desk area. It had an immediate, and major, effect on how content was selected and presented. We also established our own functions for visual image processing.
The desk has also temporarily hired interpreters. Dagbladet already had Russian expertise in the house, but there was a need for additional expertise in Ukrainian and Belarusian as well.
Additionally, the desk has ensured Dagbladet prioritised the war in all areas throughout this period. The newspaper has consistently devoted more space than other online and mobile media, and it has removed most other content at the top of the site. Since the war began, it has been the main headline in the print edition on all newspaper publishing days.
2. Focusing on “public service”
When the war broke out, we mobilised the entire product team in the development department and began to dribble ideas.
First, we worked with making a strip on the front to show readers how important we think this issue is. We managed to launch several products in the first days, including:
- A complete timeline that is constantly updated.
- Explanatory maps that are updated daily with new attacks, key information, and important events.
- An overview of personal galleries, with the most important people in power, related to the war.
- A collection page for how our readers can help war victims in Ukraine.
- A fact box that is constantly updated.
We connected the development department with back-end and front-end expertise, in addition to resources from the newspaper desk and the editorial staff.
In addition, we set up a rotation among breaking news reporters in the editorial office and created intensive courses in all the new tools. This has led to public service updates on the Web site 24/7.
3. Strengthening Web TV
This is the first war we are covering where Web TV has become a crucial part of the coverage. Dagbladet TV decided to concentrate its coverage on three main areas: communicating the latest news, explaining and analysing what is happening, and showing the consequences on the victims of the war.
The video journalists have worked intensively with the verification of video material, both by using traditional journalistic methods but also with the help of Ukrainian and Russian interpreters, war researchers, and other experts.
During the COVID-19 years, reporters learned to use Teams, Zoom, and Messenger as small TV studios. Interviews via digital links have become part of the ordinary journalistic work. Live TV has brought the sources home to readers and viewers in an inexpensive and efficient way while also reducing costs.
We have actively used social media to create an arena where viewers’ questions have played a role in our coverage. We strengthened the staff with extra resources on day, evening, and weekend shifts, and we deployed night shifts to monitor around the clock. To meet the enormous need for information, it was important for us to update viewers with the latest news when they woke up.
Eternally improving the work
News coverage requires a perpetual improvement of work. With every big and serious event, we learn something new. What we have experienced through this war is the importance of a stronger desk, a more dedicated focus on “public service,” and a stronger prioritisation of Web TV.