ABC 7 to test 'visually compelling' video storytelling techniques

ABC 7 Chicago newsroom

WLS-Channel 7 is looking to stay on top of local news in Chicago by experimenting with new forms of animation, graphics, and data visualization in the way it tells stories.

The ABC-owned station is one of only two TV news operations in the country to participate in a cutting-edge video news research project led by Northeastern University School of Journalism in Boston and the Stanton Foundation.

Key to the project, announced today, will be the hiring of a visual content producer who'll be employed by ABC 7 under a yearlong fellowship. The producer will use such tools as animation, motion graphics, and special effects to "invigorate" news stories.

The project is an outgrowth of a 2018 study which examined video storytelling at six stations — including ABC 7 in Chicago — by "remixing" traditionally presented stories with innovative production values. (Here is the link.) Viewers surveyed on their reactions preferred the enhancements overwhelmingly.

John Idler

"That ​study​ found evidence that audiences are craving in-depth, hard news video storytelling and they want it delivered in a visually compelling way," according to the announcement.

“We’re looking forward to collaborating again with Northeastern University on the latest phase of the video news research project,” said John Idler, president and general manager of ABC 7. “We believe the new visual content producer working in tandem with the top news team in Chicago will help us continue to modernize and engage with the next generation of news viewers.”

The other participating station is WCVB, the ABC affiliate in Boston.