HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Newsonomics: The Financial Times triples its profits and swaps champagne flutes for martini glasses
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
March 20, 2014, 1:29 p.m.
polarbears-cc

What’s next for the team behind Syria Deeply? Arctic Deeply

“It’s underreported, it’s highly consequential, and there are many layers of complexity,” says Lara Setrakian, Syria Deeply’s co-founder.

Syria isn’t the only news topic worth going into Deeply.

Since Syria Deeply, a news site solely focused on covering the crisis there, went live in late 2012, Lara Setrakian hasn’t hid the fact that she wants to create additional sites that closely cover specific topics. At Columbia’s Tow Center, she’s been engaged in a research project around the idea of news sites that cover a single subject in depth. News Deeply, the media company the former ABC News and Bloomberg TV correspondent cofounded, has considered plenty of topics to focus on, but later this year it plans to launch its next platform: Arctic Deeply.

With climate change causing rising temperatures and melting ice caps, what’s occurring in the Arctic region is an “ideal candidate” for Deeply to take on as its next platform, Setrakian told me, as it brings in topics ranging from the environment to geopolitics.

“It’s underreported, it’s highly consequential, and there are many layers of complexity,” she said. “Most importantly, for me, I have a certain catchphrase I’ve coined with our team — that we should be covering species-level issues. If it’s a species-level issue, and we’re not seeing it adequately covered in the news cycle, than that makes it a candidate.”

Other candidates for the Deeply treatment? Possibly Congo, Myanmar — or even Alzheimer’s. But they’re focused on not growing too quickly, Setrakian said. Deeply is most concerned with continuing to build its Syria site while it gets Arctic Deeply off the ground. “The most important thing is choosing one and focusing on execution until we find that it’s reached an adequate level of development,” Setrakian said.

Arctic Deeply’s main sponsor is the World Policy Institute, a New York-based think tank. Setrakian said she is in conversations with other think tanks and institutions, but would not disclose them since the deals aren’t final. Setrakian is also considering publishing Arctic Deeply content in languages other than English, but that will depend on who its other partners are. Similarly, Syria Deeply is in the process of developing an Arabic-language version that is slated to launch in the coming months.

Syria Deeply, on its best days, attracts 10,000 unique visitors, Setrakian said, but its content is also often crossposted on other partner sites, which allow more readers to view the content.

To that end, they also this week unveiled a redesigned Syria Deeply website which ditches WordPress for its own custom content management system. Setrakian said she believed the site had outgrown WordPress and its new system will allow it to more seamlessly display stories, maps, and timelines while allowing it to apply the framework to Arctic Deeply and its other future sites.

“We had, for example, the issue of bringing so many third-party widgets to bear and creating a modular design, which was sensible for a prototype but it slowed down our load time,” she said “It also made us very susceptible to whatever happened to each one of the third-party bits and pieces. So when it came to speeding up the user experience of our content, we felt that we needed to create something of our own.”

Last Saturday, March 15, marked the third anniversary of the Syrian civil war, and with the conflict showing no signs of abating, Setrakian said strong, nuanced coverage of Syria is needed more than ever. Syria Deeply has two full-time employees and a network of two-dozen freelancers contributing from both inside and outside Syria. And while explanatory journalism is all the rage of late, Syria Deeply has emphasized its ability to provide context for Syrian conflict since it began operating in late 2012, more than a year after the conflict began.

News Deeply plans to apply the same principles to the forthcoming Arctic Deeply as it adds new staff and creates a similar group of contributors who can cover the myriad topics that stem from the arctic. It aims to optimize the way the content is presented to best suit the topic — so while videos are prevalent in its Syria coverage, users might expect to see more maps or charts on Arctic Deeply because they’ll better suit the topic, Setrakian said.

“We learned how to create an optimal mix of on-the-ground content and external knowledge and reporting,” Setrakian said. “I think that’s vital, because usually you get just one or the other, and I think it’s extremely important that we integrate inherent knowledge, which is what we get from our Syrian writers, with that capacity to serve as translator and editors for a global audience. That’s become our specialty and it has enhanced our deliverables and it has enhanced our credibility quite a lot.”

Photo of polar bears by Alex Berger used under a Creative Commons license.

POSTED     March 20, 2014, 1:29 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Newsonomics: The Financial Times triples its profits and swaps champagne flutes for martini glasses
The FT is a leader in crossing over from print — digital subscribers now make up 70 percent of its paying audience, a number that keeps growing.
A farewell to #content: Optimism, worries, and a belief in great work
A few thoughts on the state of media (and meta-media) from our departing staff writer.
On convening a community: An excerpt from Jake Batsell’s new book on engaged journalism
“An engaged journalist’s role in the 21st century is not only to inform but to bring readers directly into the conversation.”
What to read next
789
tweets
Snapchat’s new Discover feature could be a significant moment in the evolution of mobile news
By putting mobile-native news adjacent to messages from friends, Snapchat could be helping create part of the low-friction news experience many want and need.
750Snapchat stories: Here’s how 6 news orgs are thinking about the chat app
From live events to behind-the-scenes tours, The Huffington Post, Fusion, Mashable, NPR, Philly.com, and The Verge tell us how they’re approaching Snapchat.
714Here’s how the BBC, disrupted by technology and new habits, is thinking about its future
The British broadcaster released a new report looking at the future of news as it looks toward its royal charter renewal in 2017.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
The Washington Post
U.S. News & World Report
Al Jazeera
Bureau of Investigative Journalism
Circa
The Dish
American Independent News Network
PBS NewsHour
The Daily Beast
The Batavian
Flipboard
Tumblr