Reuters’ Jassim Ahmad on ‘The Wider Image’ photography app
In October 2012 Reuters launched a free iPad app, called ‘The Wider Image’, that was created to: “re-imagine news photography, bringing images and information to life.” To discover the story behind the app CPN Editor David Corfield spoke to Jassim Ahmad, Global Head of Multimedia Innovation at Reuters, about its development.
We live in a multimedia age, and when the world’s biggest news agency decides that it’s time to develop a new way of experiencing visual stories, you know it’s time to sit up and take notice.
Reuters reaches over one billion people every day with content supplied to newspapers, magazines, financial institutions as well as websites and news feeds around the world. Reuters’ ‘The Wider Image’ app was born out of an experiment to adapt news photography for the evolving media and technology landscape.
Speaking about the app, Jassim Ahmad told CPN: “We developed the app to explore how images and information can come together in an immersive experience. There are several apps out there for photography enthusiasts, but our aim was to completely re-think the experience,”
Ahmad explained. “More than a slideshow, we wanted to address readers’ changing expectations; to bring them closer to the story and explain more. And that’s what we hope we’ve achieved with ‘The Wider Image’.”
Reuters’ photographers have played an active role in helping develop the app, and it’s this close working relationship that has helped Ahmad to refine the initial concept.
He explained: “The response from our photographers has been very positive. ‘Multimedia’ is an extremely vague term. By establishing a number of formats, the photographer is able to choose whichever best suits the story. Not only does it give visibility to our talent – one of our top goals – it also enables us to experiment and learn for the benefit of our professional services.”
‘The Wider Image’ is a free app that’s available through iTunes and is exclusive to the iPad. “It’s more than a shop window,” Ahmad revealed. “It is about the essence of photography: documentation and emotion. It is about being different and looking ahead. ‘The Wider Image’ gives the reader more context; whether that’s from the voice of the photographer explaining what happened, greater visual depth, facts from Reuters news, or comparative infographics.”
The app includes 15 different types of content, video being one of them; making it equally relevant to videographers. Ahmad said: “We were motivated to find what the unique role of photography would be. Some photographers have embraced video, particularly as cameras are now capable of HD video (such as the EOS 5D Mark II and III). Far from using interactive formats as gimmicks we thought carefully about how and when each [one] should be applied.”
“We were given a very special opportunity to explore what Reuters’ photography could be in the future, and so the process began,” Ahmad revealed. “We agreed that we needed a platform from which to work on and the iPad was, for us, the perfect way forward. Several months were spent developing a unique concept, before formally commencing the interface design and finally building it.”
Ahmad added: “We wanted the user experience to be ‘cinematic’, but intuitive. Native tablet apps aren’t like web browsing, where people have had time to learn conventions. When you make something very different and innovative, the more you go away from the standard, the harder it is for people to use. So we carried out user testing and kept iterating until we were satisfied.”
Canon was the natural choice as a supporter of the app’s development. “We always wanted Canon to come on board with this because our photographers use Canon cameras,” Ahmad revealed.
He added: “We have 600 Reuters’ photographers around the world and Reuters distributes over 1,600 images daily. But ‘The Wider Image’ is more reflective in nature. Our editors and photographers work together to develop and expand stories that will appear in the application. It’s our shop window for the digital age, but it’s also a new window on the world at large... and I’m extremely excited about that.”
Reuters’ ‘The Wider Image’ app includes:
- Interactive Formats - each story expands from a single image to give more context through a variety of formats including slideshows, sequences and sounds.
- An Explore Tool – users can explore by date, location, photographer and themes to see what’s happening in places they care about.
- Photographer Profiles - get to know Reuters’ photojournalists through personal photographer profiles and in-the-field witness commentary.
- Country Profiles - visually compare social, demographic and economic differences between the story’s location and your own.
- Daily Updates - discover some of the best stories by Reuters’ photographers, with new images and stories every day.
The Reuters’ ‘The Wider Image’ app was developed with support from Canon Europe and since its launch (in mid-October 2012) it has swiftly received extensive industry recognition. It has already won several 2012 Lovie Awards (a pan-European award for content created for the internet), including a Silver Award: News Tablet, a People’s Lovie Award in the Experimental & Innovation Tablet category, and a Bronze Award: Experimental & Innovation Tablet.
‘The Wider Image’ has also been shortlisted in the ‘Engaging’ category of the 2013 IXDA Awards for: “capturing attention, creating delight and delivering meaning.” The IXDA Awards: “recognise and celebrate examples of excellence in interaction design across domains, platforms, environments and cultures.”
Reuters, the news and media division of Thomson Reuters, is the world’s largest international multimedia news provider, reaching more than one billion people every day.
Biography: Jassim Ahmad
© Jassim Ahmad
Jassim Ahmad joined Reuters in 2000 and has since held several roles within Reuters, including Marketing Manager for Reuters Pictures and Head of Visual Projects for Reuters Media. In these positions, Ahmad managed Reuters' programme of book publishing, exhibition installations and other other visual communications. Since July 2010 he has been Global Head of Multimedia Innovation for Reuters Media. Ahmad's multimedia work includes the award-winning and Emmy-nominated projects: 'Times of Crisis', 'Bearing Witness' and 'Surviving the Tsunami'.