Shorthand is an interactive platform used by journalists, media organisations and non-for-profit charities throughout the world. It is a visual way of telling a story, best suited to feature style journalism that one might previously read in a print newspaper or magazine such as TIME.
Rachel Bartlett, an editorial planner at Shorthand recently identified the benefits of using the program when reporting on a crisis such as the Ebola outbreak. However, after careful research of stories such as Fairfax’s School’s Out and The Guardian’s Cutting Lifelines, both of which were created with Shorthand, it became clear the platform could be used effectively in a variety of contexts. I decided it was appropriate to write a story looking at the effects of climate change on Victoria’s alpine/snow industry, specifically focusing on the impact extreme weather and warmer temperatures have on tourism.
I knew Shorthand required quality photographs to compliment strong, concise narrative so I chose to take every photograph featured in the story myself using a DSLR camera.
The article is a hybrid– a mix between hard news and feature writing, observing the typical conventions of both formats. I noticed this was a common style in most Shorthand articles written by journalists and believed it worked well with my piece given the need to add description and background to the accompanying photographs.
Using Shorthand was far more difficult than I could have anticipated. I used a free trial so not every feature or add-on was available for use, including basic tools such as font change and hyperlinks. I was restricted in my ability to show how Shorthand could be used in its full capacity.
I wasn’t able to link my piece from Shorthand so decided, in consultation with other group members, the best course of action was to screenshot the article.
Upon reflection, I’ve learnt Shorthand is clearly designed for investigative pieces or stories journalists have spent more than just a week on. I treated it like WordPress and assumed the formatting wouldn’t be affected by my paragraphs and quotations. The better approach would have been to write the story using the platform as copy-paste from a Word document caused hours of problems.
In a newsroom or if a media organisation is paying for this product, I think it absolutely has potential and could revive the art of long-form journalism in a highly innovative way.