2017 Topical Reporting, Medium Newsroom finalist

Who Is Steve Bannon?

About the Project

“Who Is Steve Bannon?” is a multi-part, cross-platform original series from NowThis that explores the background and rise of President Donald Trump’s closest (and most controversial) adviser. Through months of original research and reporting, our Originals Team produced a three-part series, narrated by comedian Rob Corddry, detailing Bannon’s worldview and career.

It included little-known details and exclusive interviews with Bannon’s former colleagues. We rolled the pieces out over the course of a few weeks — pegged to big news events and reports of turmoil between Bannon, Reince Priebus and Jared Kushner. The “Who Is?” series also took the work of incredibly talented designers to provide a fresh, unique look that set these videos apart from the average NowThis video, as you can see in the Facebook links.

The result was a highly engaged, ongoing discussion about Bannon’s background and role with Trump on the NowThis and NowThis Politics Facebook pages, a conversation that was also echoed on Twitter and Instagram.

The NowThis team also secured a copy of a screenplay Bannon co-wrote with Julia Jones and the subsequent rights to produce it. It was an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, set in LA during the Rodney King riots. Yes, Steve Bannon wrote a racially charged hip-hop Shakespearean play that was never produced (until April 2017). We organized a table read that generated weeks’ worth of coverage in over 30 different outlets (one link included in entry), and gave the American public a never-before-seen insight into Bannon’s previous life. It was original, it was unique, and it was a cross-platform distribution success: on Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter. We even built a microsite to house all of our original Bannon coverage so an even broader audience could access it.

An ancillary piece to the table read, which actually ended up exceeding it in terms of Facebook views, was another original video about Bannon’s attempts to make it as a screenwriter and director before he turned to politics.

This was a huge production and a series of editorial exclusives for NowThis: it showed our audience and our peers in the industry our ability to go beyond the daily news cycle, provide original, exclusive, highly produced and designed content to our audience, and most importantly, inform them on the most crucial issues of the day by providing real insight into one of the key figures in the Trump Administration.