The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!
From the 9th Annual Shorty Awards


Finalist in Facebook Video

About this entry

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. By focusing on content and creating engaging videos tailor-made for each social network, AJ+ has been able to relate the news in innovative ways to a growing digital audience of 8.8 million fans. Their strategy of creating content that not only connects with audiences, but spark conversations online, has paid off with over 9 billion views and over 487 million engagements (likes, comments, and shares).

Why does this entry deserve to win?

AJ+ has always taken a strategy that centers on meeting their audience on Facebook by creating custom content for the social network, working primarily in video. While many video news publishers use Facebook to repurpose TV footage or push their followers to their websites, AJ+ focuses on Facebook as their own product. This means making content for Facebook that engages audiences through a wide range of content, including news updates, interviews, documentaries, 360-degree videos, animated explainers, and live coverage of events. AJ+ output, which is largely focused on social issues, is created with mobile Facebook newsfeed viewing in mind – which is to say short, shareable, and made so that it can be viewed with the sound off on a small screen. AJ+ specifically produces videos for Facebook to both find the right message for that audience and tweak the clips for their viewing behavior. The way people get information today is profoundly different than with previous mediums, and one of the driving forces in distribution is people sharing the stories they are truly passionate about. So AJ+ strives to relate the news in a way that makes such an impression on their audience, inspiring them to share the videos with their friends. (AJ+ videos have been shared more than 117 million times.)

As Facebook matures as a video platform, so does AJ+ as a video news publisher. 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, a chat bot that crowdsourced voter reactions, short documentaries that explore 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+ once again pushed the status quo of traditional Facebook coverage. The lack of mainstream media attention on the #NoDAPL movement didn't stop AJ+ from being one of the first media outlets on the ground to illuminate the struggles of the water protectors to a global audience. By creating regular news updates, documentaries, animated explainers, and Facebook Live broadcasts, AJ+ enabled 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 and were shared to a global audience.


Since officially launching in 2014, AJ+ has grown their audience from scratch to over 8.8 million fans on Facebook, and has become one of the most viewed and highest engaged pages on the social network. AJ+ videos regularly reach far beyond their core audience due to an emotional resonance that compels viewers to share the content. AJ+ videos have been viewed over 9 billion times, and AJ+ content has received over 487 million engagements. The page has been so successful that they have expanded to AJ+ Español, which has 1.5M fans, and AJ+ Arabic, which has over 2.7M fans.


Video for AJ+

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