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Build stories that matter with Storyteller

Open source meets longform, immersive storytelling
Open source meets longform, immersive storytelling

Are you looking for a tool that allows for multi-media storytelling without the need for coding? Your solution is here. It is with great excitement that we officially release Storyteller, an open source longform storytelling theme for Newscoop

While we are officially releasing the theme now, this version of Storyteller really should be called Storyteller 2.0. It has undergone numerous changes since its first use in the project it was created for (read the full story in our case study).

What is Storyteller?

Storyteller is a Newscoop theme that allows you to make your stories beautiful and engaging for your readers. The theme includes various web features such as full-screen slideshows, ambient sound, fullscreen video etc. on one longform platform. It was built in response to the growing trend we saw in interactive journalism and the simultaneous lack of open source options available. The theme turns the browser window into a canvas for interactive storytelling for any newsroom or publisher.

“We really felt that there was a hole in the market for this, so we just decided to create it!” says Gideon Lehmann, Sourcefabric Head of Client Projects.

Feature list

  • A nice, clean uncluttered layout, that is easily customizable
  • A fun to use navigation
  • Fullscreen background images
  • Fullscreen background video
  • Fullscreen background looping video
  • Fullscreen content video
  • Fullscreen background images with descriptive titles and text for slideshows
  • Fullscreen background video with descriptive titles text
  • Horizontal slideshows
  • Background audio
  • Parallax scrolling

 

View our theme demo to see all these features in action and read our Wiki page for more details or download it on Github now.

So why should you be interested in Storyteller? Well for anyone with a project in mind, or a story to tell, Storyteller is a very valuable tool. To begin with, the theme is free, so there is no need to pay a development team a fortune, an arm, and a leg to get it. Additionally, the theme is easy to customize to your needs.

That being said, this is still an evolving theme and tool that is begging to be customized. Interactive storytelling is not a one size fits all operation and we are willing and able to work with users to adapt this theme to meet a wide variety of needs.

How will longform help engage readers in your story?

To start with, stories are important. If you are in doubt of the transformative power of storytelling, take a look at this article. "Stories allow us to travel, time and again, outside the circumscribed spaces of what we believe and what we think possible. It is these journeys – sometimes tenuous, sometimes exhilarating – that inspire and steel us to navigate uncharted territories in real life."

As I am sure many of you can agree, regular plaintext articles that include a few photos are interesting enough, but when an interactive longform project is done right, it is easy to suddenly find yourself immersed in the most unexpected topics. 

Take for example the Louisiana coastline, not a topic that many find to be particularly attention grabbing. Yet through the masterful use of multimedia, I recently found myself suddenly engaged in this issue in a way I never thought possible in ProPublica’s interactive project Losing Ground. Therein lies the power of longform storytelling. 

 The average length of the most saved articles on Pocket - Image made by Pocket

The average length of the most saved articles on Pocket - Image made by Pocket

  

The other aspect of longform storytelling that makes it appealing is the ability to simply stay on one page through the duration of a whole story. This sounds simple, but as may be the case with many readers, I often find myself reading an interesting article, and then never actually finishing it because I was drawn to one of the hundred or so external links within the story that link to a new page or video. I then rarely have the focus to return to the original article again. With a longform article, the links, photos, videos and data visualizations can be simply included in the piece itself. They are all displayed in the same distraction-free space. All of this serves to significantly decrease the bounce rate on the part of readers.

In preparation for this post, I began browsing the internet for additional examples of successful implementations of this medium. I quickly stumbled upon a website with a list of some of the most impressive longform stories on the web.

After scrolling through the list, I reached the bottom where the author astutely asked the question “So how might you go about building something like this?” to which his response was “It’s simple. Start by learning some HTML and CSS.”

This startled me. I know just how complex it is to develop a longform story. Sourcefabric employs full-time developers, so of course we are able to spend our days working on coding a new theme. I can only imagine that the majority of people interested in producing a longform story will not possess the time necessary to learn HTML and CSS. The author later goes on to state that the more people able to get involved in the industry, the quicker tools, workflows and systems can be developed to make it a less manual and time extensive process.

Well, we couldn’t agree more. So without further ado, please enjoy the Storyteller theme by Sourcefabric. 

Interested in customizing this theme to meet your needs? Get in touch to see how we can support your project. 

Relevant links:

If you are just tuning into the Storyteller saga, take a look at a couple of our previous posts which document each milestone in the development process of Storyteller.

 

Wiki page (how to download and use the theme)

Download on Github 

Theme Demo

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