The 2019 Shorthand Awards Shortlist

We're proud to announce the contenders for the awards that celebrate exceptional digital storytelling

We are absolutely delighted to unveil the 2019 Shorthand Awards Shortlist, recognising the very best use of the Shorthand storytelling tool and some of the most engaging digital stories published on the web last year.

It has not been an easy task to collate this shortlist. Over 150 nominations were submitted across all five categories. Every story was reviewed across different browsers on mobile, tablet and desktop. We read the supporting notes, explored the use and variety of sections, looked at the employment of media and interactivity, and became more immersed with every scroll. From travelling back in time to 1912 when the Titanic tragically sank, to learning more about the life of a Syrian refugee called Mosab — it really has been an epic journey.

We must extend a huge thank you to each and every one of you who nominated a story for the 2019 Shorthand Awards. All of us at Team Shorthand have been bowled over by the breadth and quality of the submissions. It's amazing and humbling to see how you are using our tool to share these important stories with the world, every day, in such compelling ways.

The journey of the 2019 Shorthand Awards is almost at its end. The final winners will be announced on March 13, 2020, along with the winner of The Shorthand Choice Award.

Below, you'll find the shortlist for the five nomination categories:

  • Best editorial story
  • Best brand story
  • Best not-for-profit story
  • Best in business story
  • Best education story.

Each of the 15 stories shortlisted features alongside a quote from one of the nominees explaining just why it is so special. Our judging panel certainly have their work cut out for them!

Best editorial story

Titanic: Stories from the deep
The Daily Mirror, in association with UKTV's Yesterday channel

"The Mirror audience are known Titanic aficionados and through the years we have produced many articles on the subject — both online and in print. With this rich content at our disposal, we produced a Shorthand piece in association with UKTV's Yesterday channel.

"We opened up the vast Mirror picture archive and mined the Daily Mirror stories reported when the ship sank in 1912, explored lost artefacts (in line with the UKTV Titanic show) and tales of survival and loss, and supported the content with engaging infographics, all of which we were able to show off beautifully in Shorthand. We nominated this piece as it was a huge success: it attracted over 50,000 page views and generated a high level of engagement with an average dwell time of more than five minutes."

Kenneth Kawamoto, digital creative director, Reach Plc


Day of Reckoning
Sky News

"The 75th anniversary of D-Day was expected to be the last time those who were there — on June 6, 1944 — would attend a major commemoration of their actions. Sky News wanted to mark the occasion with something that detailed the actions of those men, in a way that nonetheless engaged normally transitory digital readers/viewers. Extensive use of Shorthand's Reveal section combined with custom built maps, aping the style of 1940s wartime documentation, demonstrated how protracted the troops' progress was in the early days of the Normandy invasions and underlined their sacrifice and bravery.

"The Reveals provided a dynamism that reflected the pace and intensity of the war these men found themselves caught up in. Shorthand allowed the story to be broken down into key chronological elements, with pullout text and pictures employed to tell the individual stories of servicemen who had spoken to Sky over recent years, humanising one of the key turning points in modern history. On the day, amid many lengthy accounts of the commemorations from France and England, the Shorthand had one of the highest engagement ratings of any of Sky's content."

Phil Whiteside, news reporter, Sky News


The rebirth of AlUla
Arab News

"Granted special access to Saudi Arabia’s ancient wonder of AlUla, our team used Shorthand to showcase its captivating beauty while explaining its archeological significance. Scrollmation maps traced the ancient link to its sister city, Petra, and the Reveal section was used to great effect to uncover its ancient treasures in the sand. The story currently stand at 56,000 unique page views."

Mo Gannon, senior editor, Arab News

"The design creates a virtual adventure and allows readers to feel like they are walking in the footsteps of history and experiencing the wonders of a site hidden for centuries.”

Simon Khalil, global creative director, Arab News


Titanic: Stories from the deep
The Daily Mirror, in association with UKTV's Yesterday channel

"The Mirror audience are known Titanic aficionados and through the years we have produced many articles on the subject — both online and in print. With this rich content at our disposal, we produced a Shorthand piece in association with UKTV's Yesterday channel.

"We opened up the vast Mirror picture archive and mined the Daily Mirror stories reported when the ship sank in 1912, explored lost artefacts (in line with the UKTV Titanic show) and tales of survival and loss, and supported the content with engaging infographics, all of which we were able to show off beautifully in Shorthand. We nominated this piece as it was a huge success: it attracted over 50,000 page views and generated a high level of engagement with an average dwell time of more than five minutes."

Kenneth Kawamoto, digital creative director, Reach Plc


Day of Reckoning
Sky News

"The 75th anniversary of D-Day was expected to be the last time those who were there — on June 6, 1944 — would attend a major commemoration of their actions. Sky News wanted to mark the occasion with something that detailed the actions of those men, in a way that nonetheless engaged normally transitory digital readers/viewers. Extensive use of Shorthand's Reveal section combined with custom built maps, aping the style of 1940s wartime documentation, demonstrated how protracted the troops' progress was in the early days of the Normandy invasions and underlined their sacrifice and bravery.

"The Reveals provided a dynamism that reflected the pace and intensity of the war these men found themselves caught up in. Shorthand allowed the story to be broken down into key chronological elements, with pullout text and pictures employed to tell the individual stories of servicemen who had spoken to Sky over recent years, humanising one of the key turning points in modern history. On the day, amid many lengthy accounts of the commemorations from France and England, the Shorthand had one of the highest engagement ratings of any of Sky's content."

Phil Whiteside, news reporter, Sky News


The rebirth of AlUla
Arab News

"Granted special access to Saudi Arabia’s ancient wonder of AlUla, our team used Shorthand to showcase its captivating beauty while explaining its archeological significance. Scrollmation maps traced the ancient link to its sister city, Petra, and the Reveal section was used to great effect to uncover its ancient treasures in the sand. The story currently stand at 56,000 unique page views."

Mo Gannon, senior editor, Arab News

"The design creates a virtual adventure and allows readers to feel like they are walking in the footsteps of history and experiencing the wonders of a site hidden for centuries.”

Simon Khalil, global creative director, Arab News


Best brand story

How to get published
Penguin

"As the UK’s largest publisher, we believe we have an opportunity — and a responsibility — to use the power of our brand to good effect.

"We saw this project as a new opportunity to visually represent the Penguin brand in a dynamic and innovative way. Using the brand’s palette, including the iconic orange, the format pushed us to play with our asset creation. This opened up what was originally a long piece of writing into a vibrant, creative hub.

"By being able to simply break up the sometimes heavy information, it enacted the feature to become a piece of storytelling itself. The publishing process that can seem long-winded and confusing turned into an accessible, highly motivating activation point. Using Shorthand enabled us to create a unique online space for writers, which users have interacted with for an average of 37 mins since publication."

Kezia Newson, creative content producer, Penguin Random House UK


Back to school with the CR-V
Honda Engine Room

“This featured article pushed the boundaries of creativity with its bold choice to use a font comparable with the type of written script seen in a diary and the use of fun graphics to effectively portray Brummy Mummy’s personality. The pages’ success is evident by simply by looking at the dwell time on the page, higher than articles of a similar nature on the site.

"The piece builds on the typical brand guidelines used on Engine Room, and by pushing these boundaries I believe it made it our most captivating story to date — highlighting the practicality the Honda CR-V offers and why it is the perfect car for families. The article itself is easy to read with a great flow, which in turn really tells a vivid story – ‘A day in the life of a busy mum’.”

Sophie Richmond, UK website coordinator, Honda Motor Europe


5 brands crushing creativity on stories
Adweek

"Adweek's Branded content studio created an immersive story to show how five top brands are really taking advantage of the creativity of Stories, both on Instagram and other Facebook platforms. The key to great story creativity is — of course —motion, so we needed to use the Shorthand platform to really showcase how these brands are using motion in an eye-catching way. We also wanted readers to be inspired, so the focus wasn't just on commercial brands, like McDonald's and Acura. We also showcased a top public institution — the New York Public Library — and its incredible Insta-Novels execution, as well as Greenpeace and how it used Stories to bring attention to the ocean plastic crisis.

"The immersive story was a major success. Strong on-site traffic sent it to 25,000 page views, doubling what the client was promised and 12 times more than a typical sponsored article receives. In fact, on the day the article launched, it was one of the seven most popular stories on all of Adweek — something we don't see for a sponsored post. Most importantly, time on page was through the roof. The average person spent over two minutes with the article. That is four times our sponsored content benchmark. Add to that the fact that social traffic to the piece was high, and it was picked up by multiple other sites."

Stuart Feil, custom publishing director, Adweek

How to get published
Penguin

"As the UK’s largest publisher, we believe we have an opportunity — and a responsibility — to use the power of our brand to good effect."We saw this project as a new opportunity to visually represent the Penguin brand in a dynamic and innovative way. Using the brand’s palette, including the iconic orange, the format pushed us to play with our asset creation. This opened up what was originally a long piece of writing into a vibrant, creative hub.

"By being able to simply break up the sometimes heavy information, it enacted the feature to become a piece of storytelling itself. The publishing process that can seem long-winded and confusing turned into an accessible, highly motivating activation point. Using Shorthand enabled us to create a unique online space for writers, which users have interacted with for an average of 37 mins since publication."

Kezia Newson, creative content producer, Penguin Random House UK


Back to school with the CR-V
Honda Engine Room

“This featured article pushed the boundaries of creativity with its bold choice to use a font comparable with the type of written script seen in a diary and the use of fun graphics to effectively portray Brummy Mummy’s personality. The pages’ success is evident by simply by looking at the dwell time on the page, higher than articles of a similar nature on the site.

"The piece builds on the typical brand guidelines used on Engine Room, and by pushing these boundaries I believe it made it our most captivating story to date — highlighting the practicality the Honda CR-V offers and why it is the perfect car for families. The article itself is easy to read with a great flow, which in turn really tells a vivid story – ‘A day in the life of a busy mum’.”

Sophie Richmond, UK website coordinator, Honda Motor Europe


5 brands crushing creativity on stories
Adweek

"Adweek's Branded content studio created an immersive story to show how five top brands are really taking advantage of the creativity of Stories, both on Instagram and other Facebook platforms. The key to great story creativity is — of course —motion, so we needed to use the Shorthand platform to really showcase how these brands are using motion in an eye-catching way. We also wanted readers to be inspired, so the focus wasn't just on commercial brands, like McDonald's and Acura. We also showcased a top public institution — the New York Public Library — and its incredible Insta-Novels execution, as well as Greenpeace and how it used Stories to bring attention to the ocean plastic crisis.

"The immersive story was a major success. Strong on-site traffic sent it to 25,000 page views, doubling what the client was promised and 12 times more than a typical sponsored article receives. In fact, on the day the article launched, it was one of the seven most popular stories on all of Adweek — something we don't see for a sponsored post. Most importantly, time on page was through the roof. The average person spent over two minutes with the article. That is four times our sponsored content benchmark. Add to that the fact that social traffic to the piece was high, and it was picked up by multiple other sites."

Stuart Feil, custom publishing director, Adweek


Best not-for-profit story

A sixteen-year-old's flight from IS group though Europe
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)

"It's a powerful personal story about Mosab, a young Syrian man who fled violence in his homeland and made his way, alone, across Europe to Norway. The writer does a great job of showing how refugees are not just statistics or desperate people living in camps, but complex, emotional, and often talented individuals — just like you and me.

"The story uses an effective mix of different media: maps to explain the political situation in Syria, animations describing Mosab's journey, photos showing his life today, and videos and audio clips of him playing the piano. The story has been one of our most popular articles in 2019, with thousands of readers from all over the world."

Paul Ireland, project manager content production, NRC


Combatting sexual harassment on public transport in Egypt: Zahara's story
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

"This is an inspiring story about a distressing problem: the sexual harassment of women on public transport. It is even more timely in the era of the #MeToo movement. We recently had the privilege of spending many hours interviewing three women called N, H, and E in Cairo. They represent hundreds of thousands of others in Egypt, and beyond, who experience this problem every day. More than 80 per cent of women report feeling unsafe while travelling in the country, a state of affairs with damaging consequences for the women themselves and a baneful effect on the wider economy.

"Our Shorthand story combines the experiences of our three heroines into one narrative focussed on a composite character we’ve named Zahara. Our animated graphics and reportage show that, despite many challenges, there is light at the end of the tunnel."

Olga Aristeidou, communications adviser, EBRD
(on behalf of the entire EBRD Communications team)


Picked by slaves
Thomson Reuters Foundation

"Our six month investigation uncovered extensive slave labour running largely unchecked in Brazil's billion-dollar coffee industry, despite years of efforts to clean up the sector. This issue is fuelling fears about the country’s trade relationship with buyers in the United States.

"We gained rare access to raids on coffee plantations led by labour officials — highlighting the realities facing tens of thousands of exploited workers, while exclusively obtaining data that revealed the extent of efforts by under-resourced officials to tackle modern slavery across more than 119,000 coffee plantations.

"The report is beautifully illustrated with striking photographs of the workers, infographics and illustrations that bring the issue to life."

Belinda Goldsmith, editor-in-chief, Thomson Reuters Foundation

A sixteen-year-old's flight from IS group though Europe
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)

"It's a powerful personal story about Mosab, a young Syrian man who fled violence in his homeland and made his way, alone, across Europe to Norway. The writer does a great job of showing how refugees are not just statistics or desperate people living in camps, but complex, emotional, and often talented individuals — just like you and me.

"The story uses an effective mix of different media: maps to explain the political situation in Syria, animations describing Mosab's journey, photos showing his life today, and videos and audio clips of him playing the piano. The story has been one of our most popular articles in 2019, with thousands of readers from all over the world."

Paul Ireland, project manager content production, NRC


Combatting sexual harassment on public transport in Egypt: Zahara's story
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

"This is an inspiring story about a distressing problem: the sexual harassment of women on public transport. It is even more timely in the era of the #MeToo movement. We recently had the privilege of spending many hours interviewing three women called N, H, and E in Cairo. They represent hundreds of thousands of others in Egypt, and beyond, who experience this problem every day. More than 80 per cent of women report feeling unsafe while travelling in the country, a state of affairs with damaging consequences for the women themselves and a baneful effect on the wider economy.

"Our Shorthand story combines the experiences of our three heroines into one narrative focussed on a composite character we’ve named Zahara. Our animated graphics and reportage show that, despite many challenges, there is light at the end of the tunnel."

Olga Aristeidou, communications adviser, EBRD
(on behalf of the entire EBRD Communications team)


Picked by slaves
Thomson Reuters Foundation

"Our six month investigation uncovered extensive slave labour running largely unchecked in Brazil's billion-dollar coffee industry, despite years of efforts to clean up the sector. This issue is fuelling fears about the country’s trade relationship with buyers in the United States.

"We gained rare access to raids on coffee plantations led by labour officials — highlighting the realities facing tens of thousands of exploited workers, while exclusively obtaining data that revealed the extent of efforts by under-resourced officials to tackle modern slavery across more than 119,000 coffee plantations."The report is beautifully illustrated with striking photographs of the workers, infographics and illustrations that bring the issue to life."

Belinda Goldsmith, editor-in-chief, Thomson Reuters Foundation


Best in business story

A trusted alternative
Geometric Results Inc (GRI)

"We were looking for a clever, fresh and engaging way to present case studies for potential clients. Shorthand offered us something really unique, that is little seen in the business world despite its high engagement factors in the media. 

"Scrollmation sections really helped us to give our brand a personality and essentially bring our services to life. It's a very engaging and interactive platform that has really boosted our presence."

Louise Hodson, graphic designer, GRI UK


Rigged for reform
The Trinidad and Tobago Extractive industries Transparency Initiative (TTEITI)

"This was strategically important to Trinidad and Tobago's economy and got good audience feedback. There was a compelling use of data around issues that are of national importance."

Kerry Peters, CEO and chief content officer, Yellow House Media


Amazing people: Amazing Lives
RELX

"This represents one part of a coherent series of Shorthand stories that we produced over the course of 2019.

"The ultimate goal was to drive employee advocacy among our 30,000 employees by highlighting a wide range of remarkable things that happen within RELX that show how it is a great place to work. The series included this story about the amazing things that our employees do outside of work.

"In 2019, our use of Shorthand contributed to a three-fold increase in the number of reads to the 'Our Stories' section of our website compared to the previous year. That's prior to Shorthand, when stories were just basic web pages."

David Roberts, digital manager, RELX

A trusted alternative
Geometric Results Inc (GRI)

"We were looking for a clever, fresh and engaging way to present case studies for potential clients. Shorthand offered us something really unique, that is little seen in the business world despite its high engagement factors in the media. 

"Scrollmation sections really helped us to give our brand a personality and essentially bring our services to life. It's a very engaging and interactive platform that has really boosted our presence."

Louise Hodson, graphic designer, GRI UK


Rigged for reform
The Trinidad and Tobago Extractive industries Transparency Initiative (TTEITI)

"This was strategically important to Trinidad and Tobago's economy and got good audience feedback. There was a compelling use of data around issues that are of national importance."

Kerry Peters, CEO and chief content officer, Yellow House Media


Amazing people: Amazing Lives
RELX

"This represents one part of a coherent series of Shorthand stories that we produced over the course of 2019.

"The ultimate goal was to drive employee advocacy among our 30,000 employees by highlighting a wide range of remarkable things that happen within RELX that show how it is a great place to work. The series included this story about the amazing things that our employees do outside of work.

"In 2019, our use of Shorthand contributed to a three-fold increase in the number of reads to the 'Our Stories' section of our website compared to the previous year. That's prior to Shorthand, when stories were just basic web pages."

David Roberts, digital manager, RELX


Best education story

Escaping the Chaos
By a student on the University of Kent's BA Journalism programme

"This is a superb project from a third year student on the University of Kent's BA Journalism programme. It details the struggles of the vast number of Venezuelan refugees trying to start new lives in Peru. Brilliantly researched and sourced, with a huge array of compelling stories.

"It provides a real insight into how the Venezuelan crisis has affected a range of ordinary people's lives, while also giving users a great deal of agency in how they explore it. Different storytelling techniques are used very effectively, especially maps which chart both the general exodus to Peru and the individual journeys of the people involved.”

Ian Reeves, head of The Centre for Journalism, University of Kent


Britain from the air
University of Cambridge

"Using historic images of aerial photography — gathered from 1945 to 2009 — our Shorthand about our 'Historical Google Earth' helped capture the attention of the UK and international press, leading to major coverage of this story at home and abroad.  

"Shorthand beautifully enabled us to show off these stunning images to their full effect and talk about the important and ongoing use of this archive in research — from topics such as the growth of towns and cities, to the effects of coastal erosion on the UK's coastlines. 

"This Shorthand is now our third most popular Shorthand of all time, with more than 53,000 views to date and a bounce rate of just 0.51 per cent as users stay to engage with our other Shorthand content — thanks mainly to the use of the Collection section."

Stuart Roberts, head of communications, Cambridge University Library


The butterflies are coming
University of Cambridge

"The butterflies are coming offers an uplifting conservation rallying cry by combining the magical appeal of these beautiful insects with the passion of three young University of Cambridge scientists (Kathy, Andrew & Matt) who are striving to secure their future on earth.

"The story combines specially commissioned film footage, photographs and interviews, as well as cutting-edge research to offer a sense of both urgency and optimism about the eco crisis and wildlife conservation. The story takes readers on a journey from chalk grasslands in UK's Bedfordshire, to the rainforests of South America, to reveal the evolutionary and behavioural wonders of butterflies, the huge challenges these insects now face, and how we can help them."

Tom Almeroth-Williams, communications manager, University of Cambridge

Escaping the Chaos
By a student on the University of Kent's BA Journalism programme

"This is a superb project from a third year student on the University of Kent's BA Journalism programme. It details the struggles of the vast number of Venezuelan refugees trying to start new lives in Peru. Brilliantly researched and sourced, with a huge array of compelling stories.

"It provides a real insight into how the Venezuelan crisis has affected a range of ordinary people's lives, while also giving users a great deal of agency in how they explore it. Different storytelling techniques are used very effectively, especially maps which chart both the general exodus to Peru and the individual journeys of the people involved.”

Ian Reeves, head of The Centre for Journalism, University of Kent


Britain from the air
University of Cambridge

"Using historic images of aerial photography — gathered from 1945 to 2009 — our Shorthand about our 'Historical Google Earth' helped capture the attention of the UK and international press, leading to major coverage of this story at home and abroad.  

"Shorthand beautifully enabled us to show off these stunning images to their full effect and talk about the important and ongoing use of this archive in research — from topics such as the growth of towns and cities, to the effects of coastal erosion on the UK's coastlines. 

"This Shorthand is now our third most popular Shorthand of all time, with more than 53,000 views to date and a bounce rate of just 0.51 per cent as users stay to engage with our other Shorthand content — thanks mainly to the use of the Collection section."

Stuart Roberts, head of communications, Cambridge University Library


The butterflies are coming
University of Cambridge

"The butterflies are coming offers an uplifting conservation rallying cry by combining the magical appeal of these beautiful insects with the passion of three young University of Cambridge scientists (Kathy, Andrew & Matt) who are striving to secure their future on earth.

"The story combines specially commissioned film footage, photographs and interviews, as well as cutting-edge research to offer a sense of both urgency and optimism about the eco crisis and wildlife conservation. The story takes readers on a journey from chalk grasslands in UK's Bedfordshire, to the rainforests of South America, to reveal the evolutionary and behavioural wonders of butterflies, the huge challenges these insects now face, and how we can help them."

Tom Almeroth-Williams, communications manager, University of Cambridge


The winners of the above five categories will be announced on March 13, 2020, along with the winner of The Shorthand Choice Award. Stay tuned for this exciting news, which will be shared in the Shorthand newsletter, on The Craft, and on our social media channels.


Every year the task of judging the exceptional stories built with Shorthand becomes more challenging. To honour and celebrate all those stories put forward that did not make the shortlist, we have collated the full list of nominations for each category.