Confused, overwhelmed or out of touch with the news?
START HERE with Al Jazeera is your go-to source to re-engage in important global conversations.
Here’s what we’re about.
Audiences are lost in today’s vast news cycle of complicated, fast-moving stories. Al Jazeera English cuts through it all to set out what’s going on and why it matters in the digital explainer series START HERE — presented by Sandra Gathmann.
START HERE is what you get when you combine journalism with innovation in the digital space.
From the battle for the Nile to the fight over the South China Sea; from the assassination of an Iranian general to the space race, our explainers are responsive, engaging and easy to follow. They’re created by experienced journalists and clever creatives. There’s something new every week. And they meet the needs of a sophisticated, digital audience — an audience that demands quality and appreciates speed.
Our unique content is driven by the stories that have people talking.
And the response in our first year — 2020 — has been incredible.
Our strategy is simple.
No hype. No agenda. No gimmicks. Just quality production and journalism that gives people what they need to form their own views. It’s about drawing in the less informed, perhaps the overwhelmed and empowering them to use their voices and engage.
Al Jazeera has capitalised on its position as a trusted source of international news to create START HERE. And filled a digital gap.
START HERE melds the work of world-class journalists with the very best in graphics design, picture editing and technology.
Sandra Gathmann leads our small but dedicated team of journalists, designers, picture editors and film-makers. An experienced journalist, she writes what she reads.
The result is a series that’s different in its look and feel. The tone is casual and conversational. Sandra’s style is authentic and intimate. And our journalism is strong.
We had a great first year.
By the end of our first year — 2020 — we produced more than 50 explainers and a heap of shorter content too. And in that time we took home nine awards including two Lovie Golds, a Shorty Audience Gold and Gold Distinction and a Telly Gold.
We’re immensely proud of what we’ve created .
Here are the numbers.
54 episodes in our first year.
58+ million views across social media.
61k+ new subscribers on YouTube.
59k+ likes and retweets on Twitter.
From the day we launched on 3 November 2019, we prioritised our community and responded to requests from our viewers for stories they wanted.
Many of our top performing episodes (The Soleimani Assassination, Anger in Lebanon, Protests in Kashmir, Nigerian Oil, Brexit, Middle East peace, The South China Sea dispute) were driven by that audience demand.
But people don’t just skim or scroll. A lot of them stay. For a third of our shows on Facebook, more than 30% watched the episode until the very end — a phenomenal completion rate for video explainers with an average duration of 7 and a half minutes. One episode hit 44%.
The average watch time on Al Jazeera’s YouTube channel also caught our attention. It averages out at 4 minutes and 43 seconds across all episodes in 2020. That’s around 60% of a video. And almost a quarter of those watching stayed to the end.
On Twitter it’s the same story — strong engagement that’s made us proud.
START HERE has exceeded all expectations.
Several went viral. Like the Soleimani assassination.
From the moment news broke that Washington had assassinated a top Iranian general, the story was huge.
World leaders, analysts and the media scrambled to make sense of Qassem Soleimani’s death. Why it happened, how Iran and the United States might respond and what it could mean for the region and the globe.
But people online were asking a simpler question.
‘Who was Soleimani?’
11m+ views | 408k+ likes, shares and comments
283k+ views | 1.4k new subscribers | 49% completion rate
130k+ views | 4.1k+ likes, retweets and comments
5.4m+ views | 243k+ likes, shares and comments
539k+ views | 5.3k new subscribers
259k+ views | 14k+ likes, retweets and comments
And protests in Kashmir.
2.6m+ views | 137k+ likes, shares and comments
579k+ views | 4.4k new subscribers
134k+ views | 5.1k+ likes, retweets and comments
When the world went into lockdown we did too.
Without missing an episode we produced a Coronavirus special series from home to explore the science, mental health, surveillance, the future of flying, even the impact of a locust plague.
Some went viral, like the global economy.
And the plight of the world’s most vulnerable.
We also helped people make sense of the 2020 race to the White House.
With long-form and bite-size explainers — even a special series.
On election night we stayed up too.
We posted on Facebook and Instagram Stories as the results rolled in.
And we kept the explainers coming even after the votes had been counted.
Watch all our episodes here.