'We need to stay agile': I discuss AJ+'s take on the future of distributed news

August 4, 2016

Reaching audiences on the platforms they already use is a focal point of many news organisations' digital strategies. Approaches to distributed news vary across the media landscape, from legacy publishes going all in like The Washington Post, to the more cautious, such as Bild, and to new media outlets designed to live on social.

AJ+, Al Jazeera's distributed news arm, counts 5.9 million likes on its AJ+ English Facebook page, and reports around 5 billion video views since its launch two years ago.


Its success with Facebook video has made it one of the organisations other media outlets name as an inspiration for their own strategies and social video formats, which puts pressure on AJ+ to constantly innovate.


"We're going to look at what's next and how we can do things differently now that a lot of people are doing things like us," said Shadi Rahimi, deputy producer at AJ+, speaking to Journalism.co.uk at the News Impact Summit in July.

She explained the impact platforms' algorithms can have on an organisation's distributed news strategy, highlighting the approach to Facebook Live at AJ+ as an example.


As Facebook has been promoting live video on the platform, often featuring Lives higher up in users' news feeds, AJ+ has been prompted to rethink its style and frequency of livestreaming.


"We started using Facebook Live when we were out in the field during breaking news events mostly. And now that Facebook is encouraging more media companies to use Facebook Live and to broadcast more often, companies such as ours are thinking about how we can do this regularly.


"We can't always wait for the breaking news, we can't always wait for an event to cover. So it's pushing a lot of companies like ours more into the direction of doing traditional TV production – is there something we can do in the studio, is there somewhere we can go and just broadcast outside of there, are there some activities people can be doing that we can show?


"It's not my favourite thing actually – I think that there needs to be always a purpose behind broadcasting live and if you ask me, there needs to be also a sense of urgency usually around it.


"So I prefer broadcasting either at a breaking news event or when I can take the audience into a world that they can't access."


Al Jazeera has more of an incentive than others to produce more Facebook Live videos, as the media organisation is part of the group of publishers Facebook has struck a deal with to get more live broadcasts on the platforms.

But adapting to the new and changing requirements and preferences of social platforms is a key part of remaining successful on social media, and "continued agility" is a characteristic AJ+ and other organisations looking to strengthen their distributed news offering need to develop.


Read the full article here: https://www.journalism.co.uk/news/-we-need-to-stay-agile-the-aj-take-on-the-future-of-distributed-news/s2/a661011/ 

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