Hey everybody! Welcome to the conversation for Shadi Rahimi's keynote talk about her work with Al Jazeera and on AJ+. #CAJ16shadi
We're still waiting for folks to filter in.
Introductions: Shadi Rahimi one of the driving forces behind AJ+. You can always tell that platforms like this are doing something right, because you don't have to find the content. The content finds you.
Shadi: I'm gonna touch on some media business subjects, because AJ+ can be informative of where legacy media can go.
When Shadi graduated from j-school, newspaper industry in US was crumbling. She was on the way to work at NYT's online media desk. They were breaking news on their website, which was unheard of at the time. But lots of staff were taking buyouts.
At the time, she says, Craigslist was being blamed for taking classified revenue away. But she saw another problem: not hiring young enough, diverse enough, and they weren't innovating enough.
Even in 2006, lots of reporters didn't want their stories online before in print.
She left after a couple years for communications, "which was like death to me," because she couldn't make a living in journalism. Afraid she couldn't go back.
Bought a camera though, moved to Egypt, reported during revolution. And now she's at AJ+, one of the top ten video publishers on Facebook. "There's hope."
"In order for us to survive, we need to be adaptable and we need to be innovative."
Your newsrooms need to reflect your audience.
Al Jazeera is definitely legacy media, mostly known for TV.
She's been really disappointed to newsrooms complaining that web and social media teams aren't integrated enough with other units. They should be part of editorial process.
She's regularly bouncing ideas off audience development folks before she even goes out to grab a story.
Talking now about Al Jazeera's brief stint in cable TV.
In 2013, they acquired Current TV, and then a year later they separately launched AJ+ as a new media experiment. The former is shut down, but AJ+ is expanding into new markets and new languages.
"Learning to master the online social media audience is key."
It's doable, she says, for legacy media to launch experiments like theirs. Tackling the same stories, just that the style is very different.
Watching highlights like the video I just posted, she asks us to guess their target audience.
"Millenials," says audience member. Shadi says she hates that word, but yes. 18-34 worldly, globally-minded, aware, critical audiences.
Who have short attention spans, but who doesn't. Now that she works at AJ+, even she has a hard time watching documentaries.
Shadi's now lead producer on a news gathering unit.
They could have been Al Jazeera English lite. Just a platform with clips and links. But they wanted to be an autonomous unit creating content specifically just for social media. They still don't have access to Al Jazeera content.
What sets them apart from competitors, she says, is four different video units that each do something so unique that they all have their own competitors.
Context does videos sometimes animating, sometimes with a narrator coming into their office to share their story. Often have a presenter from staff explaining a story to their audience.
Stories unit's main competitor is Vice News. They do short docs.
Fourth department is News Gathering, which is where she is.
Her unit gets to go into field, which is surprisingly rare in AJ+.
This video is a bit unique, was a bit controversial even within Al Jazeera because presenter openly showed fear.
Why they focused on that: emotions rule online.
Audiences in North America have become numb to these stories. So she sent her American producer out in the field, and decided to use her natural fear as part of the story.