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Contributions at Gannett | USA TODAY Network

Josh Miller
August 10th, 2021 · 2 min read

Elevating digital storytelling

During my time with Gannett (the USA TODAY Network), I’ve worked on numerous projects with the Storytelling Studio. Most notably, I worked with the Storytelling Studio (formerly Gannett’s Innovation Lab) on redesigning and relaunching longform content with a a few twists. The first being that we wanted to support more storyforms than longform. This includes short-form stories, visually impactful stories, timeline frameworks, quiz tooling, photojournalist tooling, collective lists curation and creation, and varying story archs. So, instead we created a framework that enhanced digital storytelling.

After the initial launch of the new framework, our team was bent on growth through reciruclation and looking at funnel acquisition methods. We’ve spent much time experimenting with new methods for audience engagement, audience growht, and testing to fine tune the reader experience. We saw a direct and substantial positive impact on subscriptions and engagements through our improvements.

Our small bespoke dev lab explores how we might improve or reimagine network storytelling and foster increased adoption of things for audience members like social sharing, reader engagement, newsletter subscriptions, gamification, and more. The most successful project to emerge in the past few years was the addition of In-Depth Storytelling Studio+. Facilitated through the knowledge gained from user testing and research, we increased awareness of internal kpis, raised the bar for visual production just as we had hoped, and unlocked possibilities for other sister teams to build richer, more reader-centric experiences.

The Project List

  • The Pulse/ Detroit Now: an experimental mobile first news experience
  • In-Depth: a storytelling framework with 3+ years of support enhancing digital experiences and presentations
  • Collections: A custom mobile-first CMS to create curated lists in a flat-file structure for the 50 States project
  • Explainers: highly impactful visual story framework with a custom builder
  • Quizzes: weekly news quiz platform
  • Breakfast: an internal tool similar to Canva for creating social images
  • Distance Dance: social promo landing page
  • USA & Main: a custom news front for the Money team
  • Moonlanding: a custom landing page for the Florida Today team for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moonlanding
  • PrestoPlus: a Chrome extension embedded within the network CMS to augment a virtual assistant
  • TigerTiles: a 2048 game for the Detroit Freep Newsroom
  • Here & Now: a progressive prototype that leveraged localization data to encourage engagement
  • WriteAway: an interactive virtual assistant that hooked into the CMS
  • Mosaic: a framework designed for short-form blog-type content
  • Storystacks: an interactive timeline designed for highlight a storyarch

While many remain in development, many are sunset due to lack of demand or overall cost to support.


Thanks for reading! Get in touch 👉🏻 joshua@jshmllr.com

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