By: Nu Yang
When The Globe and Mail in Toronto launched its redesigned print edition in 2010, it also introduced its readers to a new series titled Canada: Our Time to Lead (ourtimetolead.ca). The series focuses on topics such as multiculturalism, healthcare, and education that define the country and challenge readers.
Editor-in-chief John Stackhouse said each issue was “critical to the future of Canada and central to the life of (its) readers.”
In December, the Globe and Mail introduced its latest installment in the series, “Exposed: The DNA Dilemma,” a two-week segment exploring genetic sequencing and the Personal Genome Project. Like previous segments, the story includes a variety of interactive features such as online debates and personal stories shared via video.
“It’s a collaborative effort,” said executive editor Jill Borra. “Photos, videos, graphics, research, editing, design — every aspect of the newsroom is involved.”
Topics are also chosen through collaboration. “There are conversations going back and forth between our readers and our journalists,” Borra said. “The readers feed our journalists.” She said ideas are generated from what their beat reporters find “fascinating.”
Borra said the series has generated more comments than a typical news story. For example, the immigration series garnered 9,000 comments, showing that people responded to the interactive experience.
“During our first wave, we discovered comments were 35 percent longer in the number of characters than normal,” Stackhouse said. “The longer the comment usually means they are taking commenting more seriously.”
That interactive engagement was also evident in overall traffic. The immigration series drew more than 1 million pageviews and 350,000 unique visitors. “People are sticking around longer. There is a lot to explore with the Web package, and they spend a lot of time with the interactive aspect of graphics and videos.”
Since the launch, Borra said there has been “huge support from advertisers” for the series with certain sponsorships.
Stackhouse said the paper’s goal is to make a statement and to actively lead discussion. “It’s a serious pursuit of journalism. It’s an experiment of different ways of storytelling with print and digital.”
Stories may take months to research and write, and according to Stackhouse it may be “taxing on resources, but there is a huge payoff.
“Media has become a dialogue, not a monologue,” he said. “The audience wants serious dialogue and a huge scope of meaningful, intelligent conversations.”