03 September 2015
An innovation team from the Spanish media group Vocento has developed a fantastic new app - Music, Not Noise - after taking part in an El País-GEN Editors Lab in February last year. Their winning Music, Not Noise prototype was a tool designed to publish multimedia coverage under a liveblogging concept. As members of the Madrid local Vocento newsroom, Fernando Belzunce, Carlos Caneiro and Iván Manzanas set out to create an app that was able to connect users and journalists, bringing context to the news: "We want music, not noise." Now, their winning prototype will be ready and available to download in time for the Spanish general elections this year. Vocento's second winning project from this past season of the Editors Lab - How Do People Eat In Spain? - has also been implemented. GEN spoke to Editorial Director of Innovation and Developer of Regional Media at Vocento, Fernando Belzunce, to get the details.
What does the app do?
Our app is a tool to publish multimedia coverage under a liveblogging concept. Reporters are the leaders of the coverage and the users who are close to the event can contribute to it as privileged witnesses. Journalists and close-to-the-action users can upload comments, pictures, audios and videos. This filter of geolocation, possible with the smartphones, is really good, we think, because we know the users are close to the events we are publishing about. The tool will allow people to publish text, pictures and video of the news we'll be covering. As a user, you can follow the complete timeline (journalists' work and other users' coverage), or you can select the channel to follow the professional coverage only. We think it's going to be great because it's a new way to be informed about a major event, like the general election. Our President, Mariano Rajoy, said this morning that the elections will probably take place in December, so we have time to perfect the tool in order to offer the best user experience.
How did you come across this idea?
We think that participation on journalistic sites is pretty poor or, at least, not as good as it could be. We have a lot of noise on our newspaper websites and on social media it's not much better. Many users give their opinion, but it's very difficult to find a really good contribution to the professional coverage. We think that journalism is more important than ever because people, in this saturated context, need better information. We need music, not noise. This is why we think that our journalists should have the leadership role in conversations, and that users can participate if we know they can really make a good contribution. There are many tools that enable multimedia coverage to be published, but the content is not so good, and we are not interested in Twitter or Facebook. We want to export our contents to social media, but not to import the contents that are not directly published on our websites. This is important for us.
Can you tell me about how you worked together as a team?
It was very easy for me. Carlos Caneiro is a very good designer and Iván Manzanas is a very good developer too, so... When the professionals are really good everything is easy! The mix between technicians, designers and journalists is fantastic.
Vocento also won the Editors Lab held in June this year with an app showing what people eat in Spain. Is this app also being developed?
Yes, we've been working on a data journalism project about food and nutrition in the different Spanish regions. Elena de Miguel, Iker Barinaga and Jesús Pedro Gutiérrez have done great work with public data about food consumption over different time periods. You can know a lot about nutrition and, for example, you can appreciate that the consumption of fish has gone down during the crisis years, but the consumption of chocolate has increased. You can compare consumption in different regions and you can find out if the Basque Country is close to the Mediterranean Diet concept or not... Every year will be actualised.
Why did Vocento decide to develop these projects following the hackdays?
We proposed the projects during the hackdays with a clear intention: our ideas had to be good enough for our regional newspapers. It's the best way to work.
How can people access the two apps? Are they free or paid-for?
We are working on a paywall for our regional newspapers that will start in September. Both projects will be published after the paywall has been implemented. We have an special date for the Music, Not Noise app: the general elections in Spain this year. We have developed the tool and we know that it will be an important part of our news coverage that day. Our eleven newspapers will use it and we hope it will be a good tool for our journalists and our users too. The food app will launch either this month or next. People will find both works inside the El Correo* app.
How did the Editors Lab aid your innovations?
The context was really good. You meet many professionals of other media organisations who know a lot. It's a really good atmosphere to work and to learn.
Have these projects inspired other Vocento projects?
Of course! Both. For example, the data project about food has inspired others about traffic, and we are thinking about different ideas. It's easy. We can use part of the development work to create new projects. We are always thinking about new ideas!
* El Correo is a daily newspaper in Bilbao and the Basque Country of northern Spain.