AJ+ is Al Jazeera's digital-only offshoot that creates news for the connected generation. In a big bet on distributed content, AJ+ traded a website for an editorial strategy centered on building audiences directly on Facebook and other platforms by creating engaging videos that are tailor-made for each social network. Their strategy of creating content that connects with audiences and sparks conversations online has paid off, and AJ+ has become one of the biggest video publishers on Facebook. Their efforts have led to a Facebook page with over 8.8 million fans, over 9 billion views, and over 487 million engagements (likes, comments, and shares).
While many video news publishers use social media to repurpose TV footage or push their followers to their websites, AJ+ views these platforms as their own products. AJ+ caters content to platform, producing videos for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Each platform is used to deliver unique content to a wide range of audiences. Specific videos are made to match viewer behavior on the different platforms. This wide variety of content, including documentaries, animated explainers, field pieces, perspective interviews, live tweets, YouTube channels and shows, and unique lives, has helped AJ+ grow engaged digital communities around the globe.
For the 2016 election, AJ+ took a nontraditional angle with their "Crashing the Party" coverage. With a wide variety of formats, AJ+ went full force with their nontraditional approach by telling the untold stories on both sides of the American political divide. This was done through deployments at events like the RNC and DNC, Twitter fact-checking during debates, a chat bot that crowdsourced voter reactions, short documentaries that explored the political climate in the U.S., and interviews with experts like Van Jones, Amy Goodman, and Jill Stein. The coverage, which spanned a year and a half, ended with an eight-hour Facebook Live finale on election night featuring a studio broadcast and live dispatches from NYC, Standing Rock, and Mexico City.
For their recent coverage of the Dakota Access pipeline, AJ+ pushed the status quo of traditional Facebook coverage. By being one of the first news outlets on the ground at Standing Rock, AJ+ was able to develop a deep narrative through regular news updates, animated explainers, and documentaries. AJ+ reporters used Facebook Live broadcasts to enable conversations between water protectors and live viewers from around the world. These broadcasts told the human stories of the events that played out at Standing Rock while exposing the issue to a global audience.
AJ+ publishes a wide variety of formats in a strategy focused on meeting their audiences where they are. Their videos on Facebook are short and shareable, and are meant to inform the audience in small doses. On YouTube, AJ+ takes a different approach in presenting information with their longer documentary formats and the launch of two new channels, Newsbroke and Zoetic. Newsbroke is a channel that uses political satire to inform the audience, while Zoetic uses an explainer-based educational model to help their audience make sense of the world. On Twitter, AJ+ utilizes the platform in a unique way that gives them the opportunity to break the news first to an audience looking for the most recent updates as news events unfold. With a variety of platforms and formats for news coverage, AJ+ has embraced the multi-platform distributed model and has created huge audiences on every social network.
Since officially launching in 2014, AJ+ has grown their audience to over 8.8 million fans on Facebook, 250,000 subscribers on YouTube, and 486,000 followers on Twitter. Their videos have been viewed over 9 billion times, and they are one of the biggest video publishers on Facebook. They have also expanded AJ+ to new verticals for Spanish and Arabic speaking markets. Their work has won two Webby Awards for Best News Channel and Best News Series, a Shorty award for Best Facebook Presence, the Online News Association award for General Excellence in Online Journalism, and they were a presenting partner on Do Not Track, which won a Peabody Award.
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