Martin Edstrom: The changing approach towards news delivery

Over the years, Thuraya has been proud to work with leading journalists to help them break stories while staying safe as they work from the world’s toughest conflict zones. In 2015, we are proud to be working with Swedish journalist, Martin Edstrom, who is changing the way news is delivered with immersive stories though unique 360° reports. Martin shares with us the exciting work that he’s doing

The man himself!

Let us know more about what you do that makes your work unique
I work in a very new and emerging field within journalism, photography and communication: immersive and interactive storytelling. These digital experiences rely on images photographed in 360 degrees, letting the reader explore the whole setting of an image instead of just one selected frame. By using an intuitive interface, the reader can move around inside the reportage, from location to location while hearing the ambient sound of each location and reading the accompanying piece.

Interactive storytelling brings additional dimensions to linear storytelling which is consumed from point A to B. Interactive storytelling is largely non-linear; the user has an active role in how the story is told and experienced. The user/reader actively explores these reportages and stories, by navigating through the story. This way, we create immersive content that touches readers in a new way, triggering different interactions or level of response, similar to computer games.

The team

How does interactive storytelling impact your work?
Since interactive storytelling is a rather new field within journalism and communication, there are endless possibilities to explore. We’ve only scratched the surface of how interactive stories can be used. In 2014, I produced 360 reports for clients like The Guardian and also used the same approach to create interactive online experiences for the United Nations Development Program and the International Rescue Committee. Immersive stories give organizations a new way of presenting stories to their readers - letting people explore stories and projects as if they were there, on the ground themselves.

How do you view the changing landscape of the media?
I believe there are many things that have to change. First of all, print is dead. There will soon be no (or almost no) paper publications. That does not mean we have to let go of the high quality standards of newspaper journalism - quite the opposite – however, we must also adopt a new kind of thinking. What is most apparent to me is the new divide between breaking news and deeper perspective journalism pieces. They both used to fit in the same newspaper, but today they require very different channels - and attract different readers. Attract the attention towards the latter, deeper perspective journalism is a challenge. We need new ways to engage people, especially the younger generation, to read and learn about important issues.

How do people consume the news today, as opposed to say five years ago?
News is consumed in two ways. Through breaking news that come through social media and news aggregation apps and through newspapers and magazines that present more complementary, in-depth pieces. The downside to this is that people have shorter attention spans, they want shorter pieces in favor of in-depth journalism.

What role does satellite communications play in your line of work?
Traveling to remote parts of the Middle East or in the wilderness of Nepal sometimes gets you away from mobile coverage. Satellite communications is that extra life-line that makes sure you can always reach who you need to reach, wherever you are. In many places there can also be times (hours or days) when GSM or 3G simply goes down, but the satellites are still up there. I feel safer traveling with my satellite phone, knowing I always have the means to communicate.

IP+ in action

What types of projects will you be working on in 2015?
Well, 2015 starts off in a big way! I am going on my first mission with National Geographic, to make an interactive reportage about the world's largest cave: Son Doong in Vietnam. It's a major expedition over the course of a week, where my seven person team and I will descend into the cave and work tirelessly to capture the whole place in 360 degrees. It's going to be an extremely interesting trip - exploring both the cave and the new storytelling format together with National Geographic.

Getting ready

To follow Martin and his team on their Son Doong expedition, check out their blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



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