The French news agency Agence France-Presse partnered with the Paris-based design school Gobelins, for a project meant to challenge the concept of newswire.
In a constantly evolving media world and a competitive environment, the Agence France-Presse does not want to be left behind. For years, France’s state-sponsored news agency has been investing in innovative content like data journalism or 360° content.
In 2018, the institution initiated a new project with students from the Paris-based design school Gobelins (disclaimer: I’m also a student at Gobelins). A full class was asked to challenge how the agency packages its various content.
Sophie Huet, head of Innovation at the AFP, explains: “We were curious to see how interactive design students would think of presenting our content, using the possibilities of our API. We gave them a short brief but the whole idea was to collect surprising and creative proposals”. Students were free to use whatever medium they could think of. “We are used to recruiting interns from Gobelins so we were confident how creative they could be”, says Huet.
Indeed, the ten projects revealed last week at Paris’ News Impact Summit show off some interesting perspectives. One common question emerged as a priority for students: how do we overcome information obesity?
Most experiences were designed to facilitate navigation in the agency’s content, often with a chronological approach or with keywords. The students also tried to better exploit its visual potential.
- ‘Instant’ is an interactive timeline that highlights one striking picture every day
- ‘Every:second’ is another timeline that showcases the agency’s pictures from the latest 24 hours
- ‘Le Fil’ lets you visualize breaking news by date or keyword
- The ‘Panorama’ app wants to explain the news’ buzzwords (let’s say “bitcoin” or “cryptocurrency”) with a decision-tree structure
“What struck us was that several groups imagined a physical object to complement a digital experience”, Huet points out. One of the agency’s favorite proposals is a device that prints a curated package of news content on a checkout receipt.
“We were really seduced as it echoes the AFP’s history, with the old ‘telex’ machine and the paper trays in which breaking news would be printed out”, she adds.
- ‘Quo’ reinvents the telegram by printing the news on checkout receipts
- ‘Isa’ is a screen-enabled device (looking like an Amazon Echo Spot) that highlights the agency’s sports coverage
These may not be things we can expect anywhere soon in the AFP’s product line, but that’s surely an interesting way to challenge the agency’s mission.