2020 Winner

Long Island Divided


Melville, United States

Category Video

Overview of this campaign

Our initial challenge was to be compelling and digestible so our mobile-first audience would consume a dense project with 110 videos, 45,000 words across 24 articles, and 72 graphics. 


Our strategy was to break it down into pieces that were easy to understand and navigate, and assemble them into a design that allowed users -- who are used to video on-demand and customized experiences -- to control how they consume the information.


They could digest it in a linear fashion, reading from start to finish while watching relevant video highlights along the way. They could exclusively consume the 40-minute documentary or “binge” the 12 major produced videos. Or they could take a hybrid approach: jumping around, skimming through the multi-part series and exploring whatever elements stood out to them. No matter what path they took, we made sure every element was framed with proper context.


We also embedded simple, elegant video graphics, often at the start of a section, to introduce a finding. This made it easier to understand, and provided visual “bookmarks,” especially for mobile users consuming the series across multiple visits. 


A second objective was building trust in our brand, especially given the sensitive issues of race and housing and our undercover methods. The undercover videos not only provided an emotional hook to the series, but was our version of “showing our work.” Whenever possible, if we were describing an interaction between a tester and agent, we’d embed the video clip within the text, so users could see it for themselves. 


To further promote transparency we created an interactive database where users could easily find summaries of all 34 cases in which our experts found evidence suggesting fair housing violations. They could even watch video of the full encounters (some up to 115 minutes).


We also created homepage and app front designs that leveraged the project’s strong video and gave us multiple opportunities to surface it, and made sure this media-rich experience worked smoothly across devices.


Results for this campaign

The response to the investigation was exceptional. We had unprecedented traffic with  259,360 uniques and 60,293 video views. Plus nearly 100 readers contributed feedback to our online discussion board, including some who shared their experiences of unequal treatment while home shopping: “Bravo Newsday, I think this situation needed a spotlight put on it. We all knew that Levittown was built on this type of injustice but did not know the entire island followed. Maybe we knew but choose to ignore. Now it is time to do something about it.”  

The findings also sparked dialogues across social media. Our initial tweet about the investigation had more than 900 reactions, 700 retweets and 75 comments. Beyond that, we’ve seen over 600 tweets referencing the series and follow-up coverage. 

On Facebook, Newsday’s posts about the investigation generated over 3,000 comments, reactions and shares, and the link to the main story was shared by public and private accounts 8,900 times. Our investigative team also answered questions in real-time, through a Facebook Live that reached nearly 18,000 people and prompted about 200 interactions, and an Ask Me Anything on Reddit.

Citing the project, the governor of New York, the state attorney general and state senate launched separate investigations into housing discrimination, and the National Association of Realtors, which has 1.4 million members, announced sweeping changes to its approach to housing discrimination. Project editor Arthur Browne testified before the state senate on the issue, and the team has fielded requests from other media outlets, industry groups, schools and community organizations to participate in interviews and panel discussions.

While we took down the paywall for the investigation, it did prompt some new and former subscribers to write to us, saying the series motivated them to purchase a subscription. One person asked how they could make a financial donation to support our work. We’ve also seen subscription conversions off of our follow-up coverage, which pulled in 34,791 uniques.


To contact a company representative about this campaign, click here for the INMA Member Directory

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