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Intercom: Revista Brasileira de Ciências da Comunicação

versão impressa ISSN 1809-5844versão On-line ISSN 1980-3508

Intercom, Rev. Bras. Ciênc. Comun. vol.43 no.2 São Paulo maio/ago. 2020  Epub 04-Set-2020 


Innovative experiences in contemporary photojournalism: the Innovative Storytelling case of the World Press Photo Digital Storytelling Contest

João Guilherme de Melo Peixoto1

1(Universidade Católica de Pernambuco, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Indústrias Criativas. Recife – PE, Brasil).


Changes in the dynamics of production, circulation and consumption of photojournalistic content point to a significant transition of activity status, much beyond the incorporation of new technologies. The present paper aims to explore what innovative features can be identified in the contemporary dynamics of creation of this visual content. We chose to develop in this research a case study which sought to analyze, through the observation of characteristics directly connected to the dimensions of innovation and photojournalism (use of technologies, changes in professional profile and narrative process adopted), the works winners of the World Press Photo Digital Storytelling Contest in the Innovative Storytelling category (2016, 2017 and 2018).

Keywords Innovation; Photojournalism; Narratives; Multimedia


Mudanças nas dinâmicas de produção, circulação e consumo de conteúdo fotojornalístico apontam para uma significativa transição de status da atividade, muito além da incorporação de novas tecnologias. O presente artigo tem por objetivo identificar que características inovadoras podem ser mapeadas nas dinâmicas contemporâneas de criação desse conteúdo visual. Para isso, optou-se por desenvolver nesta pesquisa um estudo de caso que analisou, por meio da observação de características diretamente conectadas às dimensões da inovação e do fotojornalismo (uso de tecnologias, mudanças no perfil profissional e processo narrativos adotados), os trabalhos vencedores do Prêmio World Press Photo Digital Storytelling Contest na categoria Innovative Storytelling (anos 2016, 2017 e 2018).

Palavras-chave Inovação; Fotojornalismo; Narrativas; Multimídia


Los cambios en las dinámicas de producción, circulación y consumo de contenido fotoperiodista apuntan a una significativa transición de status de la actividad, mucho más allá de la incorporación de nuevas tecnologías. El presente artículo tiene por objetivo explorar cuales características innovadoras pueden ser identificadas en las dinámicas contemporáneas de creación de ese contenido visual. Para ello, se optó por desarrollar en esta investigación un estudio de caso que buscó analizar, a través de la observación de características directamente conectadas a las dimensiones de la innovación y del fotoperiodismo (uso de tecnologías, cambios en el perfil profesional y proceso narrativos adoptados), los trabajos ganadores del Premio World Press Photo Digital Storytelling Contest en la categoría Innovative Storytelling (años 2016, 2017 y 2018).

Palabras clave Innovación; Fotoperiodismo; Narrativas; Multimedia


Digital transition, media convergence, transformative and disruptive technological protocols. Such terms are part of the vocabulary of all those professionals in the media field who relentlessly seek to synthesize and categorize the changes experienced by the journalistic industry in recent decades. It can be said that the development of chains of creation, circulation, consumption and financing of content for the sector goes through reconfigurations that represent the transformation of society itself.

According to Castells (2001), the creation of new knowledge in science, technology and administration is linked to the availability of professionals with a high level of education as well as the existence of entrepreneurs, who are capable and willing to take the risks of transforming innovative projects into business performance (LONGHI, 2017), represent factors which aim to a post-digital transition context (ANDERSON; BELL; SHIRKY, 2012). If, by the end of the 20th century, one of the most evident for the journalistic universe, it laid in the fact of building a solid strategy and financially viable “passage” to the digital (SILVA JUNIOR, 2012, QUINN, 2005, SALAVERRÍA et al, 2008), today the challenges are different. And there are many.

When analyzing, for instance, the operational dynamics related to contemporary journalistic practice, it can be seen that new protocols associated with innovation in the development of products, processes, as well as in people and content management practices have incorporated salutary principles for understanding this activity in mutation. In other words, new formats of production, distribution/circulation, consumption and financing “oxygenate” the current models of development for the journalistic activity. Furthermore, for Spinelli (2017), the information companies and information producers face the transformations of the media ecosystem and need to generate creative and innovative processes to sustain journalism that is of value to society.

(...) media outlets seem to be creating their own innovation centers, studying their audiences to understand which formats or languages have more appeal and investing in journalism between the segmented and the personalized, instead of necessarily maintaining themselves as a media homogenized mass that seeks balance to reach as many people as possible

(LONGHI, 2017, p. 38).

Thus, it can be noted that such rearrangements in journalistic activity in contemporary societies, with regard to the creative chain, aim, for example, to bring content production processes closer to new narrative formats, which seek to impact the audience through the use of increasingly complex resources in terms of both format and projected material.

It is also noteworthy that the changes implemented in the newsrooms directly affect the universe of the creation of visual news material. Photojournalistic production, since the incorporation of digital technologies of construction, editing and making images available to the public, at the end of the last century, has undergone status transitions that reshape the craft (GARCÍA, 2017, ARRIAGA SILVA, 2017, KLEIN-AVRAHAM et al, 2016, SILVA JÚNIOR, 2012, MÄENPÄÄ, 2014).

The speed provided by the emergence and development of the broadband connection allowed content developers to make the most of multimedia resources, which point to a greater juxtaposition between text, image, sound, video and other narrative elements (LONGHI, 2010). The result of this onslaught can be seen in special coverages made by media organizations that foster the use of resources provided by the web in a more interactive, participatory and dynamic way.

The equation results in interesting scenarios: new supports, new tools for visualization and dissemination of information, other formats of narrative construction. Today, with the advent and development of communication technologies linked to the culture of convergence (JENKINS, 2006), there are changes in aspects related to the consumption of images in a network environment and, consequently, changes in the production chain of journalism.

We are now seeing a new media space in which communities of practice come together around the concept of “visual narrative”. Photojournalism, videojournalism, documentary, cinema and interactive narration intersect, not to create a new visual genre, but to combine their respective strengths in image-oriented reporting, in many forms and on various platforms

(CAMPBELL, 2013, p. 7)

Changes in the newsroom environment also resulted in reconfigurations of skills necessary for the (good) development of the profession. One of the most recurrent factors when analyzing the changes in the productive dynamics of photojournalism is to observe the infinity of skills that these professionals need to absorb in the last decades. For Garcia (2017, p. 18)

The changes produced in the periodicals, where traditionally the photojournalist had the exclusivity of the informative image (Domènech et al., 2013), profiling new routines and public relations, causing the redefinition of the photojournalist’s roles (Allan y Patrick, 2013). Also, the expansion of mobile technology and the depletion of the costs of photographic equipment allows any citizen to potentially become an image creator, generating conflicts with professionals over the value of their images1.

Therefore, the question arises: what innovative characteristics can be identified in the contemporary dynamics of creating photojournalistic content?

Thus, and in order to understand such transformations, it was decided to develop a case study in this research, which, according to Yin (2005) and Sampieri, Collado and Lucio (2006), contributes directly to the understanding of the individual, organizational, social and political phenomena.

Still, on the developed case study, we sought to analyze, by observing characteristics directly connected to the dimensions of innovation and photojournalism (listed below, in the methodological procedures), the winning works of the World Press Photo Digital Storytelling Contest Award in the Innovative Storytelling2 category(years 2016, 2017 and 2018).

Theoretical Reference

The search for innovation in the journalistic universe can be pointed out as one of the most impacting challenges of the last two decades for the profession (FRANCISCATO, 2010, CARVAJAL PRIETO, 2014, JARVIS, 2015). The “introduction of novelties or the alteration of what was already established, with new combinations”, as pointed out by Schumpeter (1961, p. 75), or, the incorporation of a “package of attributes very different from that which traditional customers historically value”, as stated by Christensen (1997, 2003), allow us to reflect on the ways in which media companies have been seeking to develop solutions for the sector. New challenges require, above all, new ways of looking at problems.

Furthermore, presenting the consumer/reader/user to journalistic products and services that have arisen interest and their “availability” for direct consumption affects the narrative construction formats, the synergy of processes of interaction with the content, besides the relationship of cost and financing to design these new projects.

It can be highlighted that one of the main factors that needs to be analyzed when it is envisaged to understand how innovation “attacks” (or reconfigures) the different development chains of contemporary journalism is technological breakthrough. However, the caveat here: innovation is a feature of wide relevance, but it is not the only one. To attribute to technology and its nuances all the result of a range of processes which involve managerial, marketing and social development is to observe the phenomenon through very short-sighted lenses (CARVAJAL PRIETO, 2014). According to Franciscato (2010, p. 12):

Technological innovation indicates, by the term, a link to procedures that involve the generation or application of technologies in journalism. The technological development experienced by the media industries and, particularly, journalism, has been accentuated in recent years, both by the process of digitizing tools and content and by connecting and making products available through online networks3.

Given this and, according to Franciscato (2010), technological innovation allows conditions to be created for the development of better quality journalistic products, social benefits from the application of technology, as well as greater interaction between society and journalistic organizations. The development of journalistic products stands out here, since, as noted in the Oslo Manual (OECD, 2006), one of the main references for establishing guidelines for the collection and interpretation of data on innovation, such development it is presented through improvements in technical aspects, components and materials, software or through some ease of use or other functional characteristics.

In summary, an equation that, as pointed out above, is not based exclusively on the adoption of new digital technological protocols, but on the intense dialogue between the actors that are part of the chains of creation, circulation, and consumption of information.

Journalists now have access to far more information than previously, as a result of everything from the transparency movement to the spread of sensor networks. They have new tools for creating visual and interactive forms of explanation. They have far more varied ways for their work to reach the public—the ubiquity of search, the rise of stream-like sources (Facebook’s timeline, all of Twitter), the wiki as a format for incorporating new information. All these developments have expanded how the public can get and process the news

(ANDERSON; BELL; SHIRKY, 2012, p. 14).

Innovation and Photojournalism

Still with regard to the theme of innovation in the media universe, observing specifically the contemporary photojournalistic scenario, it is highlighted that such changes already specified evidence of a transformation in the very status of press photography. By moving away from the characteristic patterns that involved routines concerning the technical, aesthetic and deontological dimensions of what can be categorized as “Photojournalism 1.0” (PEIXOTO, 2016), the activity signals a set of processes that indicate new frontiers and others challenges. It can be said that a set of attributes indicates the emergence of production, editing and circulation routines linked to the interpretation, translation, and transduction of reality.

And what characterizes this new condition for the photojournalistic scenario? We emphasize here the works developed by Ritchin (2009) and Fontcuberta (1997, 2010, 2011), which diagnosed an attempt to conceptualize this new “phenomenon”. In Ritchin (2009), a perspective that points to some changes in a pattern of production of visual information is analyzed.

According to the author, digital photography would be connected to its viewers through attributes associated much more with affective values and subjectivity than with material and technological processes. For the author, affection, interactivity, and an idea of continually updating would have opened a complex and still little explored panorama for photography.

Also according to Ritchin (2009) and the abovementioned conditions, the status of this new contemporary image could be identified through the concept of Hyperphotography:

Eventually, digital photography’s relationship to space, to time, to light, to authorship, to other media will make it clear that it represents an essentially different approach than does analog photography. It will also become clear that to a large extent this emerging cluster of strategies will be forever linked with others as a component in the interactive, networked interplay of a larger metamedia. This new paradigm, which has yet to fully emerge, can be called hiperphotography

(RITCHIN, 2009, p. 141).

Among the characteristics directed to the concept of hyperphotography, two main axes can be highlighted:

  1. Construction of media products associated with photography and photojournalism, which approach new formats for the circulation of content, these are connected to user participation.

  2. Elaboration of visual narratives with an emphasis on the subject, a proposal aligned with the new storytelling construction models seen above.

As for Fontcuberta’s (1997, 2010, 2011) contribution, the model proposed by the author also advocates bringing the development of digital photography closer not only to technological changes, but also to the reconfiguration processes of the spheres of routines and protocols channeled to practice this activity. The Post-picture concept that summarizes this perspective was defined as follows:

(...) today the urgency of the image for existing prevails over the qualities of the image itself. This drive guarantees an unprecedented massification, the iconic pollution that on the one hand has been implemented by the development of new visual capture devices and on the other hand, by the enormous proliferation of cameras - either as standalone devices or incorporated into mobile phones, webcams and surveillance devices. This immerses us in a world saturated with images: we live in the image and the image lives in us and makes us live. In the 1960s, Marshall McLuhan prophesied the dominant role of the mass media and proposed the iconosphere as a model of the global village. The difference is that today we culminate in a process of secularization of the visual experience: the image is no longer the domain of magicians, artists, specialists or professionals in the service of centralized powers. Today, we all produce images spontaneously, as a natural way of relating to others, post-photography is erected in a new universal language

(FONTCUBERTA, 2011, online).

It is emphasized here that the incorporation of these new characteristics in the chains of creation, circulation and consumption of visual content that can be perceived not only through the deployment into the newsrooms of new artifacts and technologies designed to capture and process information, but also through transformations of a more complex nature.

The digitalization process of the activity represents the first relevant point to understand this movement of the status transition of photojournalism (PEIXOTO, 2016), which began in the 1990s. According to Silva Júnior (2012), such reconfiguration can be divided into three periods: the preadaptive phase, which was characterized by a “coexistence of image systems and routines based on interoperability between digital and the analog” (p. 35); the adaptive phase, which develops in the sense of “total elimination of analogical devices; the disappearance of the film as support for capturing and the end of paper photography in photo editors” (p. 36); and, finally, the third phase, as described by the author:

The third stage, we call it convergent. Despite the fact that there is no single definition of the concept (SALAVERRÍA, 2010, p.43), we adopted two main prisms: the first, present in the internal dynamics of the newsroom that presupposes business juxtaposition (merger of companies, for example); technological (adoption of devices capable of handling multitasking); platforms (producing the same content core for various media); and professional (the photographer, in this case, has the ability to work with other skills). The second prism would be a cultural order, where the production chain is conceived as a process that affects both the production mode of the content and its consequent consumption

(SILVA JÚNIOR, 2012, p. 37).

The second point to be noted concerns changes in the professional profile of the actors directly involved with photojournalistic activity in newsrooms (ARRIAGA SILVA, 2017, FABREGAT et al, 2017, KLEIN-AVRAHAM et al, 2016; MÄENPÄÄ, 2014) .

If previously those who have been responsible for work usually accumulated skills of a strictly “visual” order—photographic technique and language, editing and image processing—there is a strong need today to incorporate a multitasking profile, which transpires in unconventional activities until recently: capture, production, editing and post-production of video material, digital archiving techniques, drone pilot ...

(...) the photojournalists move today in a new information context, in which the imbrication and coexistence of images of different origin, together with the strength of an enormous potential in the production of synthesis images, the sencilla alteration of the photographs periodicals about the ordinator’s pantheon or the cantitude of photojournalistic images about a same happening scattered by the written means of communication, it is favoring that I decrease its informative effectiveness or, at least, our confidence in what we see. It seems evident that these new factors are hurting the boundaries of modern photoperiodism as it has now been treated to lose credibility in front of its audience4

(FABREGAT; NÚÑEZ, 2017, p. 5).

Finally, the third point highlights the specific changes in creative routines aimed at the development of visual journalistic narratives. With the emergence of increasingly complex news content construction models in a multimedia environment (LONGHI, 2011), the function of the image in the informational context ends up becoming significantly more complex. If previously, in the spaces reserved for press photography in newspapers and magazines, it was necessary to take this factor into account in order to adjust the production/circulation ratio of the clicked material; today, with the available digital resources, it is possible to explore this new way in this equation.

In the digital journal, the photographic image is not limited to being an element related to the page where it is published and the hypertextual plot to which it may belong. They are also an essential constituent part of products or formats endowed with structural and semantic autonomy, resulting from the aggregation of photographs with other elements of visual, textual, sonorous or videographic nature, all of them fabricated in a syntactic unit the individual “paddle” from where they are capable of complementing each other, leaving the construction of a story or narrative5

(LÓPEZ-DEL-RAMO, 2016, p. 66).

Thus, it stands out that one of the most recognized and widely practiced narrative models in newsrooms today is Special Multimedia. According to Longhi (2010, p. 150), it is constituted by a “convergent multimedia language format, integrating genres such as the interview, the documentary, the infographics, the opinion, the criticism, the research, among others, in a single information package, interactive and multilinear”.

The Great Multimedia Report, on the other hand, an evolution of the model presented above (Special Multimedia), uses more sophisticated resources in relation to the exploitation of new features arising from changes in the Web and the use of new protocols.

There is a consolidation of great reporting in digital media, partly due to the development and establishment of the HTML5 and CSS3 environment, among other tools for producing and presenting content on the World Wide Web. On the other hand, there is a bet on what has been defined as long-form journalism and in a more verticalized narrative, which leads to the discussion about new textual narrative patterns and the journalistic quality of these products6

(LONGHI, 2014, p. 898).

And with all this re-functionalization of journalism in a multimedia environment, new narrative formats that seek to integrate press photography with the other elements that make up this scenario can also be identified. These new formats aim to present a kind of ¨reaction¨ of activity in the face of technological, management and social transformations processed by the journalistic environment.

Slideshow can be defined as one of the first models that sought to carry out this dialogue between the textual and photographic/photojournalistic production formats. For Kolodzy (2006) and López-del-Ramo (2016), this format incorporates elements of hypertextuality and interactivity. Initially, composed of images arranged in sequence with the possibility (or not) of user interaction, this model allows the assembly of complex journalistic narratives.

Picture Stories, which are even more complex in terms of the use of technological, visual and narrative resources, are described by Lopez-del-Ramo (2016, p. 68):

The picture stories open a menu with a presentation page from there, automatically with the click of a line, with the flow of images in straight line sequence. It is also frequent that the image of the page can be displayed on a page, as well as cinematographic credits, recalling the classic structure of the beginning, development and end. The photos are presented in such a large size, they are accompanied by a semantically articulated sound with the visible image at every moment and the greatest enhancement thanks to a graphic context (background, typography ...) that reinforces the connotative message. To decide, the picture stories involved in creating what has been termed an immersive environment, in reference to its ability to establish an emotional climate in which the subject is immersed7.

It is also noteworthy that the presence of photojournalists in audiovisual production dynamics can be considered a significant change in the visual content creation chain. Besides, new image capture formats, such as the use of drones, the production of 360-degree images and the use of virtual and/or augmented reality in more ambitious projects by major global news production players — such as NY Times , Washington Post and Folha de São Paulo — can also be highlighted here. As previously mentioned, the investment and development of innovation and co-creation laboratories in newsrooms has been gradually changing the incorporation of these new products both in the production chains of journalistic material as well as in the circulation and consumption fields.

Methodological procedures

This research is developed through an exploratory case study focusing on the processes of articulation between the universes of innovation and photojournalism in contemporary times. According to Yin (2005, p. 20):

The case study allows an investigation to preserve the holistic and significant characteristics of real life events - such as individual life cycles, organizational and administrative processes, changes in urban regions, international relations and the maturation of some sectors8.

Among the objectives listed and described in the opening of this work, the identification of the innovative characteristics present in the contemporary dynamics of creating photojournalistic material stands out. As an object of analysis, the winning works in the Innovative Storytelling category were delimited, which is part of the international photojournalism award World Press Photo Digital Storytelling Contest .

Created in 2011 with the title Multimedia Contest (in 2017, it will be called World Press Photo Digital Storytelling Contest ) the award aims to honor those content producers who develop the best forms of visual journalism made possible by the changes brought about by the development of the supply chains, creation, circulation and consumption. According to the institution’s website:

In 2011, World Press Photo launched the multimedia contest in recognition of the increasing practice of combining photography, video, audio and infographics in online productions, both by photographers and by the media, expanding beyond traditional still photography. The first multimedia contest was divided in two categories: online or offline linear productions and online interactive productions. These productions were to have a journalistic storyline in which still photography had to play a significant role. Other elements, such as video, animation, graphics, illustrations, sound, and text were allowed as well¨ (PHOTO, 2018).

The Innovative Storytelling category debuted at the awards in 2016, along with the classified works of Short Form, Long Form and Immersive Storytelling . This year alone, 369 works were registered (33 of these in the Innovative category ). In 2017, 282 works participated (31 in the Innovative category). Finally, in 2018, of the 308 entries submitted, 28 went to the category featured in this article.

Thus, for the first phase of this case study, the winning projects from the last three years of the Innovative Storytelling category (2016, 2017 and 2018) were selected. The board below (Board 1) brings the titles, vehicles (or participants) responsible for the project and the year of publication:

Board 1 Winning works in the Innovative Storytelling category (years 2016, 2017 and 2018) 

Year Rank Title Organization
2018 1 Finding Home 9 Times
2018 2 From Janet with Love 10 National Film Board of Canada
2018 3 There once lived 11 Takie Dela
2017 1 Raising Barriers 12 The Washington Post
2017 2 The Waypoint 13 The Washington Post
2017 3 Future Cities 14 Yvonne Brandwijk, Stephanie Bakker - Supported by European Journalism Centre, Fonds Bijzondere Journalistieke Projecten, Stimuleringsfonds voor de Creatieve Industrie
2016 1 The Displaced 15 NY Times
2016 2 Greenland is Melting Away 16 NY Times
2016 3 Graphic Memories: Tales From Uganda’s Female Former Child Soldiers 17 Marc Ellison - Supported by European Journalism Centre, financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Source: author.

Having chosen the works participating in this research (all have characteristics of great multimedia reports), the second phase of the methodological procedure adopted here sought to define which characteristics analyzed would be part of the case study in question. According to Sampieri, Collado and Lucio (2006, p. 449)

We use codification to begin to reveal potential meanings and develop ideas, concepts and hypotheses; we will understand what happens with the data (we endeavor to generate a sense of understanding with respect to the planting of the problem). The codes are tags to identify categories, choose, describing a text segment, image, artifact or other material18.

First, we sought to diagnose which selection criteria were listed by the team responsible for judging competing works. Between the years 2016 and 2018, four characteristics were listed by the World Press Photo Digital Storytelling Contest team:

  1. Editing: Skillful, insightful or imaginative editing.

  2. Functionality: level of synergy between the technical form and the content to create an engaging digital narrative for the audience.

  3. Impact: strength of the narrative.

Then, four characteristics/categories of analysis were highlighted, which served as a basis for the observation of the selected works. It took into account the points specified about the status transition of press photography, from its digitalization process started in the 90s of the 20th century, through the incorporation of new image creation flows, to the progressive change in the professional profile in editorials of the newsrooms. They are:

  1. Use of innovative technologies for creating visual content: the highlight for this category is the incorporation of innovative technologies for image capture, namely: use of drones, 360 degree photography, use of virtual or augmented reality, among other resources.

  2. Professional profiles identified in the chain of creation of visual / photojournalistic content: if before the flow of construction of a photojournalistic product would have been centered on the figure of the photo reporter, image editor and graphic design, we now have several other professionals on the scene - video editors, experience designer, programmers, motion designer, sound editor, among others.

  3. Photojournalistic narrative formats adopted: observe which digital photojournalistic formats were incorporated into the project, for example: slideshow, pictures, stories , virtual reality products, among others.

  4. Integration with other languages used in the project: it relates directly to the integration between text, image, video, audio, infographics, among others.

Results analysis

After observing the selected works as the object of analysis of this research, the following results stand out:

Technological resources do not necessarily define how innovative a narrative is

As already mentioned in this research, technological innovation in content creation processes is one of the crucial factors for the development of photojournalistic activity, but it is not the only one. The incorporation of such solutions requires an intense connection with the content, which results in complex and attractive narratives for the audience.

It is observed that, among the nine studies analyzed, only three made use of recognized innovative technological resources for capturing and processing images. Highlight for The Displaced (Figure 1), winning project of the year 2016 and produced by The New York Times. The work, which analyzes the displacement process caused by wars and persecutions around the world, used 360-degree photographs and virtual reality resources to present scenarios devastated by conflicts as well as to generate an “immersion” effect in the daily lives of the characters portrayed. As of Greenland is Melting Away (The New York Times - second in 2016) and The Waypoint (The Washington Post - second in 2017) images taken by drone are used.

Source: The New York Times.

Figure 1 Project’s initial screen The Displaced 

Innovative narrative projects bring a myriad of skills

With the incorporation of new dynamics of content generation by the newsrooms, which seek to absorb protocols increasingly focused on immediacy and the instantaneous circulation of information, the design and execution of special projects, aimed at the most dense and structural analysis, require a specific skill set.

Among the analyzed projects, the “multifaceted” character of them stands out: in addition to “visual” professionals already assigned to such initiatives (photo reporters, image editors, designers ), the presence of other categories that are quite unique for the classic flow of content design (photo) journalistic: video editors, programmers, sound designers , user experience designer, among others.

It can be observed that the winning works of the year 2018 (Finding Home , From Janet with Love , There once lived ) represent this diagnosed issue well. Everyone has at least four of these new skills mentioned earlier: video capture and editing, programming and user experience designer. In Finding Home (first prize of 2018), for example (Figure 2), there is a strong investment in the creation of audiovisual content as well as in the elaboration of a visual experience through interactive design resources.

Furthermore, The job winner of the year of 2017 (The Waypoint) also offers important points about this skill integration techniques and narratives in content planning and production processes photojournalistic innovation. In the project’s technical file, the presence of professionals with intense experience creating audiovisual content (visual journalists and sound designers).

Source: Times.

Figure 2 Project’s initial screen Finding Home 

Digital photojournalistic formats are undergoing intense reconfiguration

The digitalization process and the emergence of new routines for creating photojournalistic material have directly affected the status of the profession in recent decades. Today, the traditional genres and models of image development in newsrooms seek space between the new narrative formats.

Thus, of the nine works surveyed, it appears that eight of them incorporated, in some way, material with characteristics typical of the audiovisual universe, whether in more traditional formats (documentary, for example) or even more experimental models, which incorporated dynamism into the project.

Among the proposals that focus on use of audiovisual resources, Raising Barriers (2017)is thought from the chain of stories that explore the social and economic relations of cause and effect arising from the development of the globalization process. The multimedia special consists of three episodes, available in many different moments, to generate engagement and interest in the public consumer.

However, products more focused on the display of still images (Fotogalerias or Fotogalerías ) continue to be relevant to the elaboration of digital journalistic narratives. Highlight for the project The Displaced (Figure 3), which uses image galleries to enhance the effects of the visual narrative conceived.

Source: The New York Times.

Figure 3 Image Galleries The Displaced 

Integration between languages is crucial for the success of innovative projects

Finally, the analysis of the connections between the different languages with which the projects were conceived also offers interesting “clues” about the incorporation of elements of innovation in photojournalism. An active integration between text, still images, audiovisual material, technological resources and design directly affects the consumption experience of the material. If before the proposals for the production of specials and other multimedia narrative resources stood out for the quantity factor (more formats), today there is a concern to discover how the link between the elements can be exploited to the maximum.

Of the analyzed projects, Future cities, third place in 2017 (Figure 4), is a case that deserves to be highlighted. It has a fluid consumption / viewing experience and without strict spaces reserved for the image, text or audiovisual production gallery. The pages are structured so that the user can interact with the content without necessarily labeling it. The main objective is to dynamically explore the active narrative of the stories told

It is also worth mentioning the projects Graphic Memories: Tales From Uganda’s Female Former Child Soldiers (2016) and There once lived... (2018) that, from resources visuals from the universe of graphic novels, make use of illustrations together with more traditional products of photojournalistic practice, present the central product idea.

Source: Project website.

Figure 4 Project home page Future cities 

Final considerations

The universe of press photography is in a state of reconfiguration and this process is relevantly connected with the development of digital technologies. The axes of creation, circulation, consumption and (why not?) content financing cross status transitions that require attention. It is necessary to be alert to the processes, to the mechanisms that allow us to dialogue with this polysemic, expansive, plural universe.

And if the challenges linked to the operational dynamics of contemporary journalistic practice require aspects of the photojournalistic ecosystem, mainly, to integration knowledge and languages, it can be said that, progressively, projects executed with a focus on an innovative approach (in the broadest sense of the term) excel in understanding the new visuality protocols of our times. Such understanding results in the expansion of the use of technological solutions that allow us to boost the possibilities of presenting stories with outstanding public interest.

That being said, the first factor to be evidenced the approximation between the fields of innovation and photojournalism (if we will be able to call it that in a few years...) is the very protagonism of the image. Regardless of the technological resources used in the design of multimedia specials and large multimedia reports (among other content circulation formats), it is observed that there is an intense concern to actively explore visual language. Such factor contributes with press photography to absorb a leading role in the content planning and production stages, without a direct dependency platform and technological resources to be used.

It is also necessary to emphasize the process of integrating professional profiles for the consolidation of projects, in which creativity and co-creation are actively present. Differently from what is usually observed in the traditional work routines of photo publishing, the projects analyzed here demonstrate maturity in the interlocution of human and technological resources.

Finally, a message stands out in the analysis of the winning works of the World Press Photo Digital Storytelling Contest Award in the Innovative Storytelling category: first of all, it is necessary to invest in good stories. The premise is not new, it is not related to the use of disruptive and / or transgressive technologies, but it is still good advice for the development of relevant, courageous and visually attractive narratives.

1In the original: “Los cambios producidos en las redacciones periodísticas, donde tradicionalmente el fotoperiodista tenía la exclusividad de la imagen informativa (Domènech et al., 2013), perfilan nuevas rutinas y relaciones con los públicos, provocando la redefinición del oficio del fotoperiodista (Allan y Patrick, 2013). Además, la expansión de la tecnología móvil y la disminución de los costes de los equipos fotográficos permiten que cualquier ciudadano se transforme potencialmente en un creador de imágenes, generando conflictos a los profesionales en el valor de sus imágenes” (GARCÍA, 2017, p. 18).

2Regarding the importance of the World Press Photo award, says Leitão (2015): “According to the institution’s website, which has a Foundation, World Press Photo is committed to supporting and promoting high standards of photojournalism and documentary photography worldwide. “We strive to generate great public interest and appreciation for the work of photographers and for the free exchange of information” (WPP, 2015). The activities developed by them include the annual competition, exhibitions, educational programs and publications. World Press Photo runs as an independent, non-profit organization based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where World Press Photo was founded in 1955. Today it is sponsored worldwide by Canon. World Press Photo holds the official accreditation for good practices from the Central Fundraising Bureau ”(LEITÃO, 2015, p. 42-43).

3In the original: “A inovação tecnológica indica, pelo termo, uma vinculação a procedimentos que envolvem geração ou aplicação de tecnologias no jornalismo. O desenvolvimento tecnológico por que tem passado as indústrias da mídia e, particularmente, o jornalismo, tem se acentuado nos últimos anos, tanto pelo processo de digitalização das ferramentas e conteúdos quanto pela conexão e disponibilização de produtos por redes telemáticas” (FRANCISCATO, 2010, p. 12).

4In the original: (...) los fotoperiodistas se mueven hoy en un nuevo contexto informativo, en el que la imbricación y convivencia de imágenes de distinta procedencia, unido al estreno de un enorme potencial en la producción de imágenes de síntesis, la sencilla alteración de las fotografías periodísticas sobre la pantalla del ordenador o la cantidad de imágenes fotoperiodísticas sobre un mismo acontecimiento esparcidas por los medios de comunicación escritos, está favoreciendo que descienda su efectividad informativa o, por lo menos, nuestra confianza en lo que vemos. Parece evidente que estos nuevos factores están agrietando los cimientos del fotoperiodismo moderno tal como hasta ahora lo tratábamos al perder credibilidad frente a su público (FABREGAT; NÚÑEZ, 2017, p. 5).

5In the original: “En el periódico digital, la imagen fotográfica no se limita a ser un elemento relacionado con la página donde se publica y la trama hipertextual a la que pueda pertenecer. También es parte constitutiva esencial de productos o formatos dotados de autonomía estructural y semántica, resultantes de la agregación de las fotografías con otros elementos de naturaleza visual, textual, sonora o videográfica, todos ellos tejidos en una unidad sintáctica o “paquete” individual donde son susceptibles de complementarse mutuamente, llegando a construir una historia o narrativa” (LÓPEZ-DEL-RAMO, 2016, p. 66).

6In the original: “Observa-se uma consolidação da grande reportagem nos meios digitais, em parte devido ao desenvolvimento e estabelecimento do ambiente HTML5 e do CSS3 dentre outras ferramentas de produção e apresentação de conteúdos na World Wide Web. De outra parte, constata-se uma aposta no que tem sido definido como jornalismo long-form e na narrativa mais verticalizada, o que leva à discussão sobre novos padrões narrativos textuais e a qualidade jornalística desses produtos” (LONGHI, 2014, p. 898).

7In the original: “Las fotohistorias se abren a menudo con una página de presentación a partir de la cual, bien automáticamente o con un clic del lector, comienza el flujo de imágenes en secuencia lineal fija. También es frecuente que posean una página o imagen de cierre, al modo de los créditos cinematográficos, recordando la estructura clásica de inicio, desarrollo y fin. Las fotos se presentan en tamaño grande, están acompañadas de sonido semánticamente articulado con la imagen visible en cada momento y adquieren mayor realce gracias a un contexto gráfico (fondos, tipografía...) que refuerza el mensaje connotativo. Es decir, las fotohistorias apuntan hacia la creación de lo que se ha denominado como ambiente inmersivo, en referencia a su capacidad de establecer un clima emocional en el que se sumerge el lector” (LÓPEZ-DEL-RAMO, 2016, p. 68).

8In the original: “O estudo de caso permite uma investigação para se preservar as características holísticas e significativas dos eventos da vida real - tais como ciclos de vida individuais, processos organizacionais e administrativos, mudanças ocorridas em regiões urbanas, relações internacionais e a maturação de alguns setores” (p. 20).

9The shows the A story of baby newborn Heln and your family, Syrians refugees, who are seeking asylum at Europe.

10From Janet with Love explores the nuances and particularities of the life of a Filipino immigrant and philanthropist mother in Canada.

11This web-documentary shows the questions from homeless at Russia and aims to bring empathy to the audiente with homeless people.

12Multimedia project divided in three parts that takes viewers to eight countries on three continents, exploring the divisions between countries and peoples.

13Interactive video that immerses the viewer in the emotional experience of refugees seeking security in Lesbos, Greece.

14Multimedia project dedicated to stories of people behind urbanization and growth statistics in five of the most engaging and emerging cities in the world: Kinshasa, Lima, Yangon, Medellin and Addis Ababa.

15Today, about 60 million people are displaced from their homes by war and persecution – more than at any time since World War II. Half of them are children. This multimedia journey in text, photographs and virtual reality tells the stories of three of these kids.

16The Greenland ice sheet is at the front line of climate change. This special multimedia search to understand one of the most evident global warming.

17This interactive graphic novel brings to life the stories of four people who were kidnapped when young, raped and forced to kill by Joseph Kony’s rebel army (Uganda).

18In the original: “Usamos la codificación para comenzar a revelar significados potenciales y desarrollar ideas, conceptos e hipótesis; vamos comprendiendo lo que sucede con los datos (empezamos a generar un sentido de entendimiento respecto al planteamiento del problema). Los códigos son etiquetas para identificar categorías, es decir, describen un segmento de texto, imagen, artefacto u otro material” (SAMPIERI; COLLADO; LUCIO, 2006, p. 449).


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Received: January 14, 2019; Accepted: May 06, 2020

Professor of the Graduate Program in Creative Industries (Unicap/PE). PhD in Social Communication by the Graduate Program in Communication at the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, with a postdoctoral period at the Center for Internet Studies and Digital Life (Universidad de Navarra/amplona/Spain). Develops research in the areas of innovation, visual communication and education. Currently, he is doing a post-doctoral internship in the Graduate Program in Education at the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco. E-mail:

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