The art of the viral news explainer



By Marina Adami

The Speaker

Ros Atkins is a British journalist at the BBC, where he has hosted the TV programme Outside Source since 2014. Ros has been described as the BBC’s Explainer-in-Chief for his viral explainer clips, which have delved into important news stories both from Britain and around the world. He also started the 50:50 Project for gender equality in news. As part of our global journalism seminars series, Ros shared his expertise on what makes a digitally successful explainer.

Why high-quality explainer videos matter

Watch the video of Ros’s talk

Ros Atkins is a BBC news presenter, host of Outside Source and founder of the 50:50 Project. In December, his explainer about the alleged No 10 Downing Street Christmas Party went viral. In November 2019 he was in Oxford to speak about the 50:50 Prohhjhjhject.hhhhh

Seven expert tips for a viral news explainer

1. Facts should speak for themselves. «I’m not setting out to damn anyone. I am setting out to work out what the facts of the story are to distil them into the simplest and most understandable and consumable form,» Ros said. His explainers are 100% focused on facts, with no intention to pass judgement, he added. This also extends to how the content is presented: «We try to release the potency of facts. We distil information down into its clearest form and offer that in a way that places the fewest obstacles between the audience and the fact,» Ros said. For his videos, this means short, sparse sentences, packing in as many facts as possible and an understated tone. Ros highlighted that he is not trying to bring personality or comment into the content in any way.

+ info: Reuters Institute

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