AJLabs wins prestigious data journalism award

Al Jazeera's interactive unit honoured at Digiday Publishing Awards ceremony for Best Use of Audience Data.

    During the first 10 days of the challenge, from December 22 to December 31, 2017, AJ Labs received more than 10,000 completed survey responses [Al Jazeera]
    During the first 10 days of the challenge, from December 22 to December 31, 2017, AJ Labs received more than 10,000 completed survey responses [Al Jazeera]

    AJLabs, Al Jazeera's interactive unit, has won the top prize in the Best Use of Audience Data category at the prestigious Digiday Publishing Awards gala in New York.

    The award was given on Thursday for the end-of-year interactive news quizzes, Let's review 2018 | What kind of news consumer are you? and Follow the news? Take our quiz and see if you can recognise some of the biggest stories of 2017.

    During the first 10 days of the challenge, from December 22 to December 31, 2017, AJ Labs received more than 10,000 completed survey responses.

    In 2018, AJLabs built upon responses from the previous year to create an updated quiz in which thousands of Al Jazeera readers also participated.

    Mohammed Haddad, head of AJLabs, and Alaa Batayneh, senior strategist of audience development,  created the interactives as a 360-video experience that rewards viewers with stamps in a virtual passport for their knowledge of the big news stories of the year.

    In order to receive their final tally of stamps for correct answers, participants were then asked to complete a short emoji-themed news quiz reflecting Al Jazeera readers' news preferences and usage patterns.

    "The resulting audience data helps us prioritise our audience needs and paints a better picture of who we’re writing for when commissioning and producing our stories," Haddad said.

    "By leveraging gamification and incorporating social media shareability, this strategy is a way of engaging our loyal readers while helping us understand how to grow new audiences," he added.

    'Vital role in newsgathering and story-telling'

    The Digiday Publishing Awards recognise companies that are modernising digital media.

    This year's entrants "reflect a changing industry … intent on navigating a path forward," wrote the awards' organisers.

    Carlos van Meek, Al Jazeera's director of digital innovation and programming, underscored the growing importance of data in online reporting and audience engagement.

    "We’re very proud of the work that Mohammed Haddad and his team are producing. AJLabs is now emerging as one of the most innovative units in the data journalism space," he said.

    "Strong editorial combined with the clever use of data helps us better understand our audiences, and vice versa. This award is further proof of data journalism's growing and vital role in newsgathering and story-telling."

    Over the years, the awards have honoured leading work from brands, agencies, publishers and tech providers such as The Players' Tribune, Dotdash, NBC News and The Wall Street Journal.

    Other winners in this year’s competition included CNN, Vox and National Geographic.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News