Multimedia journalism and visual storytelling

During a Friday panel at the International Journalism Festival, Giordano Cossu, founder of the Hirva Lab, Andrea Marinelli, journalist and co-founder of the online interactive magazine Peninsula Hotel, Jacopo Ottaviani, freelance data journalist, and Arnold van Bruggen, founder of Prospektor, discussed about multimedia journalism and visual storytelling.

With the advent of technology, news reporting has evolved: the focus is now on digital and interactive engagement with the audience. According to the panelists, journalists should be flexible, they should not be constrained to one form and go multimedia. Giordano Cossu said that multimedia tools opened a wider path for news reporting: “As an independent journalist, I started working on the web. I’m particularly interested in social issues and the web allows me to reach a much diversified audience and to develop original projects on issues that are often overlooked or simplified,” he said.

"Should we adapt to this new media change? Should we go mobile?"

Rwanda Project

20 years on: Portraits from Changing Rwanda is one of Cossu’s transmedia projects, that includes a web documentary and an interactive photo exhibit. Even if the website was developed using the latest digital tools, Cossu also used a 1937 Polaroid to take pictures of the local population.

The project documents the challenges that Rwandans faced after the genocide and their struggle to rebuild their communities, explaining how difficult is for victims and survivors to live in the same village. According to Cossu, an interactive form of journalism was the best way to present such a complex story.


Hidden Wounds

Hidden Wounds is the online multimedia project developed by Arnold van Bruggen. The 7-minute music video clip talks about veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), returned from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“To reach a younger audience, we adapted a song from dEUS, a band from Belgium. Along the music video, there are spoken words and external links to further elaborate the individual case study,” explained Bruggen.

The founder of Prospektor also spent five years working on the Sochi Project, where he investigated the story of the site of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia.


The Dark Side of the Italian Tomato

In 2014 Jacopo Ottaviani, together with a team of other journalists, photographers and designers, worked on the interactive documentary ‘The Dark Side of the Italian Tomato, published by Al JazeeraRFI and Internazionale. The project explores the stories behind the tomato supply chain between Italy and Africa. It reveals how the arrival of Italian tomatoes in Ghana has had a negative impact on the local industry. As a consequence, local youth had to emigrate and work in the Italian tomato fields, where they are often exploited.

As Ottaviani said, visual storytelling is important to illustrate complex stories such as this one.For this reason the data collected are presented through a mix of interactive graphics, maps, photos, videos and text.


Peninsula Hotel

Peninsula Hotel is a multimedia web magazine, developed by Andrea Marinelli and Serena Danna, that explores the stories of those people who were able to reinvent the spirit of ‘Made in Italy’.

“We want to find a way to link data journalism to old school journalism, the difficulty is to give a bigger picture of the phenomenon,” said Andrea Marinelli.

Marinelli believes that the multimedia market in Italy is open and tries to experiment with new ways of telling stories, in particular for independent projects. ‘Made in Italy’ is no longer an old classic, new forms of narration should flow into Italy, as he suggested. Otherwise, journalists would lose potential audience and the possibility of finding new stories.