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Special Project

Special Project
From the 13th Annual Shorty Awards

Al Jazeera English Website

Entered in News & Media


Al Jazeera English Online had a truly breakout year in 2020 with unstoppable global news coverage and a growing portfolio of digital native content leading to YoY growth of +89% and nearly 1 billion pageviews. 

Our objective has always been to be one of the most pre-eminent sources of international news – with a strong focus on the Middle East and human centered stories from the Global South.

Through sleepless pandemic nights and round-the-clock coverage from our bureaus in Doha, Washington DC, New York, London and Kuala Lumpur, we covered the biggest news story in more than half a century with depth and width. Our Covid-19 breaking coverage was second to none, bolstered by live blogs, timely produced video explainers, podcasts, interactive maps, features, long reads, and a partnership with the World Health Organization.

And, as the pandemic unfolded, we managed to cover just about everything else – from the Black Lives Matters protests to Brexit, a turbulent US elections season, devastating wildfires, political assassinations and much more.

Our objective not only to report the news but also give greater context was further emboldened with the expansion of our digital native content – long-form video documentary, podcasts, long form journalism and virtual reality offerings that enriched our audience’s experience.

2020 was an extremely difficult year but the news we reported and the stories we told helped us  satisfy our mission of empowering people with accurate, in-depth and compelling content that upholds the value of truth and elevates the human spirit.

Strategy and Execution

Al Jazeera English Online truly grew into its own in 2020, covering the globe 24/7 through first rate field reportage and analysis, a growing portfolio of digital native video explainers, interactives, documentaries, podcasts, features and long reads

We did this against the backdrop of the pandemic that drove home the urgency of getting reliable news to people who trusted us in record numbers. We closely monitored the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan - and when it turned into a full-blown a catastrophe, we quickly pivoted to a virtual newsroom model, with our management, journalists and staff all working from home. Regardless, new readers came to us in droves.

We smashed all previous records, drawing nearly 1 billion (890M) pageviews - twice our next best record (436M) in 2019. We added to our growing portfolio of digital native programs, re-designed our website and introduced a new unified content management system that streamlined backend web publishing across the Al Jazeera Media Network, whilst enhancing 'mobile first' ease of use for the growing millions who regularly access our content through their phones.

We hired award winning editors and journalists to lead our New York, DC, Doha and Kuala Lumpur teams and recruited full-time digital correspondents to our Beirut, Tehran, and Islamabad bureaus. We worked tirelessly to build the synapses between the site and our award-winning social media teams, resulting in a cross-platform game that bore results, with referrals from our social channels more than doubling -- from 16M in 2019 to 39M in 2020.

That level of strategy and planning helped us reach our objectives. Our three highest single days of traffic in the history of all took place in 2020, with stories as diverse as they were globally important:

Jurors also took note as we more than tripled our number of international awards, from 16 in 2019 to 62 in 2020.

However, most importantly, we told the human story first. We brought hard to obtain news of duress under lockdown following India's removal of Kashmir and Jammu's autonomous status, ongoing suffering in IDP camps in Syria, and refugees and migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean. In addition, we covered the fallout, across America, following George Floyd's death at the hands of police.

Our social teams - especially AJE Twitter - also did us proud as they competed directly with CNN and BBC in coverage of the US elections, resulting in the highest referral rate of any month on record (5M) to the longer form elections coverage on our site.

It took years of planning and hard-won execution, but the AJE site grew into its own in 2020. We discovered that we could unite the platforms and fully assume our role as the central conduit for our global news coverage. 


We saw the highest audience traffic in the history of in 2020, with YoY growth at +89% and nearly 1 billion (890M) pageviews - more than double our next highest number (436M) in 2019.

In total, there have been an estimated 970M+ hours of site engagement in 2020 – the equivalent of 110k years of content consumption.

Our 3 highest single days of traffic in the history of also ALL took place in 2020:

-   COVID-19 outbreak – 8.31M

-   US Election – 7.84M

-   Soleimani Assassination– 7.19M

We had strong engagement in non-English primary speaking countries, too, with triple digit YoY growth in India (169%), Nigeria (123%) and Philippines (257%).

And we saw triple digit growth in emerging countries like Nigeria, South Africa and Bangladesh – due to our focus on Global South stories that resonate with audiences in these geographies.

Our expansion into niche markets like Alaska and the Vatican further bear out the diversity and extent of our reach. also launched 4 new video shows in 2020, adding to its current offerings of video explainers, observational documentary series, social videos and podcasts and launched 3 newsletters.

We redesigned our site, creating and implementing a wholly new uCMS content management system and hired full-time digital correspondents in Beirut, Tehran, and Islamabad.

All seemed to prepare us for perofrmance at the top of our cross-platform game, with referrals from our social channels more than doubling - from 16M in 2019 to 39M in 2020.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Al Jazeera English, AJ Digital


Entry Credits