The Drum's 'Unsung Heroes' series is a celebration of the people in the industry who slog hard behind the limelight for their companies, brands, and clients. As they are seldom in the spotlight for their contribution to the success of campaigns, this is their time to shine.
In addition to overseeing the production of video and multimedia content out of The Wall Street Journal bureaus across the Asia Pacific region as head of video, Paolo Bosonin also reports and writes his own stories.
To him, the most rewarding part of the job is when WSJ create digital stories that resonate with its audiences because people recognise great content online, and this encourages him to keep exploring uncharted territory and leverage WSJ expertise to react quickly to global events.
Why is your job important?
All jobs in our newsroom are critical, especially in a region that has taken center stage in the global news cycle. Our readers in the US and around the world want to know and understand what’s happening in Asia, politically and economically first and foremost.
From a video perspective, we want to find and tell meaningful stories that people can’t find anywhere else. Each video story is different and has to be told in a different way.
Video journalism now sits at the heart of our digital strategy, and it’s an incredible opportunity for us to offer our readers stories that are best told through moving images, whether using our cameras to capture unique footage or motion graphics, or both. We recently welcomed a new head of video, Anthony Galloway, a veteran video journalist who is further sharpening our video offering.
Videos are one of several key ingredients to a thriving, nimble and innovative digital newsroom because it offers us opportunities to tell stories in a distinctive, compelling way and helps us reach new audiences via a number of platforms beyond our WSJ.com website, like social media, search and many others. We have also recently been using video to enhance WSJ breaking news and analysis, as well as drawing attention to our scoops.
We have also been sharpening our news analysis and explainers by harnessing video content in new ways and pushing production boundaries in ways we have not done before.
What is the hardest and stressful part of your job?
The most challenging part of our work is anticipating trends, both in the news cycle and in terms of storytelling formats. Most of the time it’s fun, though it can get stressful when we face technical glitches, or when dealing with high stakes, sensitive stories.
It is also highly motivating: We have to get it right for our demanding audiences, who expect us to deliver accurate and compelling journalism. To deliver that we are incredibly lucky to have an unrivaled network of correspondents and beat reporters with whom we collaborate and share ideas to better frame our coverage.
This gives us the ability to cover a wide range of diverse topics, decoding complex stories, news, and features with global implications and delivering valuable insights through engaging multimedia packages to our well-informed, curious and often business-savvy readership.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
When our innovations prove to be a hit, whenever we manage to create distinctive digital stories that strike a chord with our audiences. Trialing something new and seeing people engaging with it across platforms or subscribing to the WSJ is really exciting. When we see our competitors clearly taking note of our video storytelling techniques, we take it as a form of flattery.
For example, we recently experimented with longer form content and produced a documentary about the creation of the WSJ’s very own cryptocurrency. Obviously, the reporting teams work was not a commercial initiative, but a journalistic exploration of how a cryptocurrency could work.
This year, we have developed a number of stories that combine original footage and graphics and tried to push creative boundaries in terms of format and tone, producing explainers on a wide range of topics from How North and South Korea Came to March Under One Flag to US efforts to counter China’s global push for influence.
We are increasingly using video to help our audience better understand complex issues in a frenetic media cycle and make sense of the news.
The bottom line is: People recognize great content online, and this encourages us to keep exploring uncharted territory and leverage WSJ expertise to react quickly to global events.
First thing that comes to people’s minds when you tell them your job? How would you correct/explain to them what you do?
I often have to show them an example of what we do, and even when I do so most people tend to think either that I write articles or that I’m a cameraman. The reality is that, in our daily production cycle, we need to be able to handle all aspects of the creation of a multimedia story, from the initial idea to post-publication promotion and developing a wide range of broader skills.
These include writing, shooting in the field and designing motion graphics. Despite having a managing role, I still make a point of reporting, shooting and producing my own stories whenever the opportunity arises.
Is there anything you want to change in your job?
Making time to do my own stories is increasingly becoming a challenge. I try to take part in shoots and help out other producers with their projects anytime I can - and that’s fun. I must say that my bosses both in Hong Kong and New York have been hugely supportive so I have the luxury to organize my time in a more flexible way.
Which was the campaign that you worked on, that you are most proud of?
As WSJ journalists, we have the opportunity to investigate some of the most important stories of our time, which is a great privilege. For example, I am particularly proud of our award-winning coverage of North Korea, the 1MDB scandal and China’s surveillance state.
Who is someone you want to emulate in your industry?
I feel really lucky enough to work with some award-winning, world-class reporters and editors here at the WSJ. During my career I have worked for media companies based in Italy, France, and APAC countries before moving to Hong Kong with the WSJ - I have had several mentors - too many to be named here - who all taught me a lot and introduced me to different working cultures.
I believe lessons learned from different people, in different times and places, still influence my work somehow and help guide my decisions.
The media and publishing industries are rapidly evolving, however, we are working to make sure certain things stay the same: No matter what the WSJ covers, objectivity and impartiality are of the highest importance to us and we adhere to the highest ethical and journalistic standards.
The WSJ has a reputation as the most trusted news organization in America. Our readers’ trust in our unbiased coverage is a hugely valuable asset.
If you weren’t a head of video, what would you be?
I would still pursue a career that would allow me to travel, live in different countries and experience new cultures. I thought about becoming a diplomat when I was younger.
The issue with being a diplomat, though, is that you often aren't able to speak your mind, especially if doing so is against the interests of the government you represent.
As a WSJ journalist, I have a duty of objectivity and fairness, but my freedom of expression is sacred and untouched.