Hearst and IL Palat share multimodal success stories

By Amalie Nash


Denver, Colorado, United States


What is multimodal storytelling and how can news organisations get better at it?

That was the topic of a Webinar recently hosted by Product & Tech Initiative Lead Jodie Hopperton and me. We teamed up because multimodal storytelling or alternative format storytelling — which can include text, images, audio, graphics, videos, and more — must include both newsroom and product involvement to be successful. 

Newsrooms may see an opportunity to do something multimodal but not have the tools. Product may get excited about multimodal, but find that newsrooms don’t use the tools. Being aligned is essential.

Hearst Newspapers in the United States and Alma Media in Finland, both INMA Global Media Awards finalists, have seen strong results by focusing on multimodal storytelling. Here are their stories:

Alma Media introduced a new product for Iltalehti’s existing publishing channels

The goal was to boost video consumption within Iltalehti, particularly among young users, and establish a new environment for advertisers.

The product is designed to support narratives based on vertical videos, photos, graphics, and stories comprised of multiple “cards,” which users navigate by swiping on the screen. 

About 70 different stories are published weekly on the IL Palat product — from visually narrated personal interviews to photo compilations of news events to Iltalehti’s own studio productions and more.

Iltalehti's goal was to boost video consumption and attract young readers.
Iltalehti's goal was to boost video consumption and attract young readers.

Among the results: The service recorded an average of 2.5 million video views and over 5 million pageviews per week, and brand studies show Iltalehti’s top-of-mind awareness has improved among young Finns.

Perttu Kauppinen, editor-in-chief, said Alma Media had previously invested in video production for social media, but videos on TikTok and Instagram didn’t lead users back to Alma Media’s sites or produce revenue.

So they got to thinking: Why not produce social videos for our own platforms?

“It only took two to three months to build the application, and the team producing the content is only four people, but at first, no one was watching them,” he said. “It took time for people to find it, but now it’s really successful.”

Hearst created a Click-2-Publish programme with 20-plus templates

The purpose of the programme is simple: Make it easier for newsrooms to publish innovative journalism.

The Dev Hub at Hearst created more than 20 templates journalists can easily use, including lists, interactive maps, tools for voting, visual scrollers, and more.

Tim O’Rourke, vice president of content strategy at Hearst, said the goal was to reduce the hassle and time it can often take to pull off innovative work. These templates are now used hundreds of times a quarter and thousands of times a year across Hearst’s titles.

Development time is still reserved for the big swings, O’Rourke said, while the templates allow newsrooms to take smaller swings more frequently. 

“Readership gets bored if all you provide is 40-inch stories with photos,” O’Rourke said. “The audience tells you every day that they need more, and we need to take more bets.”

Hearst's Click-2-Publish programme removes barriers for innovative journalism to be published.
Hearst's Click-2-Publish programme removes barriers for innovative journalism to be published.

Storytelling created in the templates received:

  • 304% more visits than the average staff story.

  • 477% more subscriber visits than the average staff story.

  • 1,081% more subscription influences, measured by visits in the seven days before a user subscribes, than the average staff story.

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About Amalie Nash

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