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Special Project

Special Project
From the 14th Annual Shorty Awards

Start Here

Finalist in Branded Series


In the vast, fast-paced world of international news, having a trusted source to explain the big stories is rare and invaluable. That’s what Start Here, Al Jazeera’s flagship digital show, does every week in less than ten minutes. We take a big story and break it down, from the basics to the bigger picture.

Start Here reaches its audience through Al Jazeera’s social media channels – YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – and its website.

In a world where the news media can be so polarized, and people are increasingly unsure who to trust, what Start Here is doing in the digital media space is more important than ever.

Strategy and Execution

The Start Here strategy is simple, but effective. No hype, no agenda, no gimmicks. Just high-quality journalism, engaging storytelling and creative production to give viewers the information they need to cut through the confusion.

We don’t just tell the viewers what happened. We unpick the complicated parts of the story with elegant graphics, provide the background, explain why a story matters and how it affects people.

We manage to take highly complex geopolitical stories and simplify them, without any dumbing down. We deliberately adopt a conversational, accessible tone, we don’t assume knowledge and we always keep in mind that for much of our global audience, English may not be their first language. We take care over every word and every shot that goes into each episode. 

“My priority with Start Here is to invite you to engage with world news. And a big part of gaining your trust, is to give you the story straight - without agenda. We do the hard work of distilling the important information, to arm you with the basics, and give you the confidence to follow that story, maybe dig a little deeper, and then make up your own mind about what’s happening.” – Sandra Gathmann, host of Start Here.

Start Here published 40 episodes during 2021, covering all the biggest news stories from the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the war in Ethiopia to the tension over Taiwan and the messy politics of Israel and Palestine.


Start Here has become a go-to resource for anyone interested in global news and our loyal, engaged audience relies on Start Here whenever a big story breaks.

One of the biggest global stories in 2021 was what happened in Afghanistan and we

dedicated three episodes to it. The first one charted the resurgence of the Taliban before they had taken over the whole country. “Who are the Taliban?” went viral and has clocked up more than 13 million views to date.

Our audience loves what Start Here is doing. They tell us in the comments and it also shows in the levels of engagement we generate. We garnered 40 million views across platforms in 2021 – all organic – and drove 100,000 new subscribers to the Al Jazeera YouTube channel. People don’t just skim or scroll, they stay watching. The average completion rate on YouTube is 55%. On Facebook it’s 23%, that’s 83% higher than the Al Jazeera average. On almost every metric across all digital platforms, Start Here significantly outperforms other Al Jazeera content. 

But Start Here has an impact beyond views and engagement on social media. University students tell us that it helps them with their studies. And teachers get in touch to say they use Start Here to help explain what’s going on in the world to their students. One school in Canada launched a fundraiser after watching our episode on climate change and famine in Madagascar, raising almost $2000 for a Canadian hunger charity.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Al Jazeera Digital


Entry Credits