International panelists share multimedia success stories

Broadening the Bandwidth,” the international panel at the Online News Association’s New York conference Friday, was an opportunity for journalists from Spain, Brazil, Germany and the U.K. to share and discuss cutting-edge online news developments in their respective countries.

Alberto Cairo, assistant professor of infographics at the University of North Carolina and infographics editor of Elmundo.es in Spain told the audience that he considers himself a journalist, not a designer. “I went to school for journalism. I moved to [interactive graphics] later.”

Cairo is currently on leave from Elmundo.es to teach at UNC but took time out to come to ONA and share some of the infographic features he designed for the news site, which has 6 million unique users.

Cairo said Elmundo.es has a commitment to visual journalism and that Spain has long been a leader in the creation of powerful infographics.

At Elmundo.es, they produce their own infographics and also do their own reporting, rather than relying on the work of print reporters. Infographics can stand alone, Cairo reminded the audience, making them a unique information-sharing device.

Elmundo.es is trying to move away from print-inspired graphics to a more multimedia model that includes audio and video, like the Deep Impact story.

Cairo’s co-panelist, Marion Strecker, is cofounder and director of Univierso Online, Brazil. Strecker explained successful interactive features at UOL.

To attract a younger audience, Strecker said, UOL asked Marcelo Tas, an actor, videomaker and multimedia showman to create a satirical blog about the 2004 local elections.

This blog led to a spin-off project where the website did live coverage of the opening of a satirical play written by Tas called The History of Brazil by Ernesto Varela. Ernesto Varela is a character Tas created to play a reporter who asks bold questions everyone wants to ask, but no one dares.

German panelist Guido Baumhauer, editor in chief of Deutsche Welle, emphasized the site’s availability in many languages and also discussed Deutsche Welle’s forays into producing content and multimedia for mobile phones.

BBC Interactive deputy editor Paul Brannon read a few of the 20,000 plus e-mails the BBC received the day of the terrorist attacks on London’s transit system. The e-mails gave the news service reports of events all over the ctiy and conflicted with the authorities’ reports that there had been an electrical explosion on one of the trains.

Brannon also showed audience-supplied photographs of the attacks and reminded the audience that “we are all reporters now.

About Diana Day

By day, Diana is the Internet and Communication Technologies Coordinator at Westridge School for Girls in Pasadena, CA.

By night, Diana moonlights as the Digital Diva for the LATimes.com's education blog

Diana recently received her master's degree in online journalism from USC. She was managing editor of the readers' blog at Online Journalism Review.

Before attending USC, she was a schoolteacher and reading specialist for 14 years in both Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

While at USC, Diana launched two online news publications -- BeTwinned.com, a magazine for parents of twins and multiples, and inSierraMadre.com, a community journalism site for Sierra Madre, CA.