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Start Here

Entered in Video Series


The world is complicated. The news doesn’t have to be. 

Start Here is the flagship explainer series for Al Jazeera on YouTube, hosted by Sandra Gathmann. Our objective is to help people around the world navigate the vast, fast-paced world of international news by breaking down big stories in a way that’s easy to understand and engaging to watch.



Start Here’s strategy is simple but highly effective. No hype, no agenda, no gimmicks. Just high-quality journalism and engaging storytelling to give our viewers the information they need to cut through the confusion and form their own opinions on issues that matter. 

We don’t just explain what happened. We take our viewers step-by-step through the complicated backstory, using elegant graphics and creative video production. We explain why a story matters and how it affects people — all in around 10-12 minutes. 

In  2023 we refined our YouTube publishing strategy to focus more on deepdive, evergreen explainers - topics that viewers keep coming back to. For example, we condensed thousands of years of history into 10 minutes to explain the significance of the Al Aqsa Mosque; we examined why the US-Israel relationship is so close; we profiled the Pakistani politician Imran Khan; and we sent Sandra to East Jerusalem to explain how the Israeli occupation affects the lives of Palestinians there.  

It’s not easy to make complicated stories simple and every episode takes a huge amount of work by a small, but dedicated, production team. We deliberate on every word in the script, we are fastidious about fact checking and we take great effort to seek out a diverse range of guests to provide different viewpoints on a story. But 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.



Our strategy of focusing more on evergreen topics paid off with record views and engagement – all organic.

We published 23 episodes, fewer than in 2022, and yet we increased all of our engagement metrics significantly. We garnered more than 14M views on YouTube in total; five episodes exceeded 1M views (the Imran Khan profile crossed 2M); and the average retention rate was 51%. It shows that once people click on our content, it engages them and they stick around. 

But the YouTube metrics are not our only measure of success. Our main goal is to help people understand important global stories - including ones that may not be receiving much attention elsewhere. So for example, we dedicated two episodes to the war in Sudan. One viewer, who was herself caught up in the war, got in touch to thank us for highlighting what was happening. She added “I also want you to  know that I’ve watched all 134 episodes of Start Here since the war started, because they give me an insight into how the world works and helped me cope by knowing the whole world has gone through some dark times.”

The Israel-Gaza war was of course a huge story for us. We helped millions of viewers make sense of what was happening in Gaza. But we also explained the wider context – where the US-Israel relationship fits it, how violence in the West Bank was linked to Gaza, and the day-to-day reality of the Israeli occupation in East Jerusalem.



Entrant Company / Organization Name

Al Jazeera Digital


Entry Credits