The foundation of masterful storytelling consists of equal parts journalistic excellence and engineering brilliance. It is impossible to tell great stories without having both ground-breaking reporting and eye-popping experiences. We at The Washington Post believe we offered the best combination of these elements in the past year.
Start with our core: Arc, the software that powers all that we do. Arc is the only publishing platform built
by engineers sitting alongside journalists in a newsroom. It is a suite of about a dozen products, including photo and video asset management systems, a revolutionary budgeting tool called Websked, and a first-class digital publishing engine, Page Builder..
There is no greater testament to the quality of a product than having competitors want to buy and use it. After a three-year gestation period that started with small publishers, Arc emerged over the past year, signing up major newsrooms, including the LA Times, the Boston Globe and the Philadelphia publishers. Demand is now so strong that the Arc team routinely turns away interested publishers and sites running on Arc reach 300 million readers.
A strong base of great reporting and great engineering allows newsrooms to take bold chances with grand experiments. For The Post that meant building a new site outside our ecosystem. The Lily
launched on June 12, 2017 to bring Post journalism to a broader audience and elevate stories critical to the lives of women. The Lily, launched on Medium and later moved to the Arc platform, is already challenging the industry. The Lily has a unique editorial voice coupled with a striking visual voice, and both deliberately stand out among publications vying for the attention of millennial women. Each story published by The Lily is accompanied by an original graphic or photo chosen specifically to work well on the social platform where it’s being published. To identify a Lily story, one only has to quickly glance at a Lily graphic or image.
But our biggest off-platform success was in one of the web’s most imposing corners: Reddit a place few publishers dare venture. Gene Park of The Post’s social team, a long-time Redditor himself, launched personal posts and staff AMAs that Digiday described as trying to “demystify the reporting process, participate in conversations without motive, and crafting jokes.” By refraining from the temptation to post
links (Redditors hate that) and instead focusing on answering the allegations of bias against journalists, Gene won new fans and brought The Post and all of the industry more credibility with a skeptical audience.
In the age of a distributed news ecosystem it is critical to keep rethinking our own platform. Few news publishers have solved the contradiction between the need for revenue-producing advertising and the
desire for a clean reading experience. By this spring, The Post had a solution being tested by its readers. Dubbed “Newsreader,” the project seeks to rethink the visual cues on an article page in an effort to improve engagement with both the article itself and the rest of the site.