Making serious news engaging and interactive!


How do you tell a story, with online available tools, that needs to be engaging, understanding for your readers and published quickly as possible?

Breaking news! The whole attention of your newsroom focuses on that one subject. You need to update your audience factual and quickly. BBC reporter Lis Henderson and her colleagues believed it wasn’t possible to create an interactive piece about a attack while it was still ongoing. They want to differentiate from other media companies, because if they wouldn’t they might get swallowed by all the other outlets writing the same story at the same time.


Hackastory introduced the ease of using digital storytelling tools. Taking inspiration from known content marketing insights, we bridged disciplines to make the shattering London Bridge attack a more compelling live scoop, increasing engagement and shareability metrics.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is one of the world’s oldest national public broadcasting company and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees (more than 20,000 staff in total). We met senior broadcast journalist Lis Henderson in our Digital Storytelling Booster at the NL Media event, a gathering of regional news organizations in Europe. She has been working at BBC One Look North for over 6 years and has always been interested in utilizing interactive journalism techniques.


Twenty journalists from across Europe joined our Digital Storytelling Booster, an essential primer for understanding how the digital transformation affects the way we tell stories. The full training day starts with the fundamentals of digital storytelling with impact and with inspiration and case studies from organizations like The Guardian and New York Times. Is that possible for smaller outlets with smaller budgets? Hardly nobody raised their hand. They didn’t have the confidence it was possible.

It is and Hackastory showed available – and in most cases – free tools from DigitalStory.Tools to create the same results. At the end of the day we asked the same question. Do you have the confidence to build these stories, just like the Guardian? All hands went up. All participants, including Lis and some other very experienced and traditional journalists, build a digital story.

“Your hands-on approach is really useful, easy and it gives you the confidence to try something new.” – Lis Henderson, senior broadcast journalist (BBC)

Digital Story Tools Used

  • Wirewax (video) Just upload a video and Wirewax will recognise tags. You decide if you want to activate them or ignore them. Engage your users directly.
  • Thinglink (photo) Make interactive pictures, video’s or VR productions. In every production you can add different ‘call-to-action’ buttons to make it interactive.
  • Sway (multimedia) Very easy to use for building a one-pager. Upload video, text, audio, tweets, etc. It’s easy to embed in several (mobile) websites.


  • Using this approach Hackastory helped Lis and the other journalists get insights in the possibilities of digital tools.
  • The participants found confidence in themselves that they – just like all other participants – are able to use these tools.
  • Lis used the tool Wirewax for her story. According to them, audiences typically spend much longer with a Wirewax video than the same video without any interactivity, also there is 67% interaction rate and 16% click through rate.
  • It’s common for journalists and newsrooms to think that using new digital formats takes up a lot of time and thus money. Because of this, they tend to stick to the traditional formats. Getting a grip on the already available tools and opening up their eyes to new possibilities, makes journalists, CEO’s and Editors in Chiefs work a lot easier and quicker than they initially thought.