Digital Spearheads: How Aftenposten increased reading and engagement by empowering our reporters


Oslo, Norway

Category Digital Audience Usage and Engagement

Media associated with this campaign

Overview of this campaign

Our challenge: How do we educate and empower our reporters, so they can make more visual, interesting, stickier and better digital journalism? How do we create a culture that encourages out of the box-thinking and an experimental approach? And how do we make sure that better digital storytelling results in more people using Aftenposten’s products more often - and spend more time on each visit? Historically, we have tried various approaches in order to increase the digital competence and build a truly digital culture in our newsroom. Honestly, most of them with limited success.
Solution: This time we decided to do it differently by establishing a group of “digital spearheads”. We picked one reporter from each department who were asked to experiment, learn and share by using new tools, and making and presenting our content in new ways. The “spearheads” should be both front runners and provide support for the other reporters in the department. This group meets every week to discuss challenges and methodology. From the beginning, the idea has been to spread the techniques and tools that we see have an impact on reading and engagement. We decided early on to focus on one specific improvement every second week and apply all our resources to achieve this. The “spearheads” have been testing and encouraging other reporters to follow suit. We have also been giving short courses several times a week to teach the rest of the reporters the various tools. We have been monitoring progress weekly with tools offering real-time data, and we have communicated this to the rest of the newsroom as often as we could. To be able to show that we are improving, day by day, gives a boost to motivation.

Results for this campaign

IMPORTANT: Please see the following article for videointerview and a lot of specific examples from our project:
What has been achieved so far? The answer is (at least) threefold:
1. Today, we have a newsroom that is much more skilled than six months ago. More than 200 reporters (90 percent) have participated in our courses and a large number now know how to use various tools that empowers them to tell and present better, smarter and richer stories. During the last four months, our reporters have published more than 300 charts (see attachment for progress on various tools).
2. This process has also had a positive impact on the culture in our newsroom. Some of the senior reporters, traditionally the ones finding digital storytelling most difficult, have now become our premium digital reporters. We have created a culture where testing and experimenting is ok, likewise failing. The only requirement is that you learn from it, and share your knowledge with others.
3. Most importantly, We have created better digital products: Reading, circulation and time spent on our pages has increased on selected and prioritized content. For instance, we see that our chart-based explanatory articles in average have higher reading than “regular” articles without additional explanatory visual elements. Likewise, the reading length has increased (the number of readers who scroll to the bottom of the page). Normally, this number is about 20 %. After we started writing in list format and using explanatory sub headers, this number has been close to 70% in several of the articles we have analyzed. We have also managed to increase the circulation rate (number of users who move on to a new Aftenposten-page from the articlepage) on selected articles with relevant links at the bottom of the article. In other words: more readers now find our stories interesting, and among those who access our stories, many more now actually read more of our content.


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