How Expressen TV brought the future of news to Swedish viewers

Swedish broadcaster Expressen TV won ‘B2C Editorial Team of the Year’ at The Drum Online Media Awards 2019. Here, the team give us a behind-the-scenes look at how they produce their award-winning output.

The headlines

Expressen TV has had a rapid and successful development since the launch of its live TV channel in Sweden in 2015. The aim is to be number one in breaking news in our market.

Expressen TV is the live streamed news channel at Expressen.se. It is live from 06:00 – 24:00, 7 days a week. Throughout the day, the channel consists of three formats; “The Latest News” (6am – 10am), “The Live Studio” (10am – 6pm) and “Prime time” (6pm – 12pm). The live channel was launched in 2015.

Expressen TV is a part of the tabloid Expressen (founded in 1944), one of Sweden’s biggest daily newspapers. Expressen TV shares the tradition of Expressen; to enlighten, concern and challenge the readers and viewers.

The channel has an 85+ people strong newsroom. Besides the live channel, the editorial staff has an extensive production of video-on-demand (approximately 120 each day). There are four in-house studios, three of them green screen. We use AR solutions frequently in our formats. Expressen TV has been represented at international media conferences discussing the use of new technology.

Going live

The mission of Expressen TV is to be number one in breaking news. Within our daily formats, we are always ready to switch focus and go all in on breaking news. Expressen TV hereby challenges our competitors; the traditional broadcast companies. Our aim is to report live within 180 seconds on news-breaking events. In such an event, every single team member puts in a lot of effort to make the coverage of the story as good as possible. Our modern and ambitious editorial team makes this possible.

Therefore, all our journalists are trained to be able to report live – where it happens, when it happens. For example, all our photographers are equipped so that they can report live on short notice. The journalists are also ready and willing to report live – even if they are off duty. There are several examples of journalists calling in to appear on air if they happen to be at the scene of a breaking news event.

In the aim of being number one in breaking news, we value speed over picture quality. Therefore, we encourage our journalists to go live immediately — from the car, at the airport, with just a cell phone. Making the impossible possible is what our journalists do best.

During the coverage of a breaking news event, we often start off with just a few pieces of information. While we learn more on the subject, we can constantly add new elements to the coverage: More journalists on-site, guests in our studio, viewers’ pictures, maps and so on.

We hold on to the story as long as it is relevant and we are not afraid to repeat the key parts often, as we know viewers tend to hop in and out. We follow the live data which helps us evaluate the viewers’ interest in the story. The viewers’ need to know more is what drives us in making the coverage as thorough as possible.

Highlights

During the 2018 Swedish general election night, there was a special feeling in the news room. While there’s normally only two persons in the control room (one live editor and one technical producer) this night the control room was packed with journalists eager to finish off what had been an intense election year.

Expressen TV arranged several big debates that had us reach a bigger and broader audience. We arranged the election race’s first debate with all the party leaders in Gothenburg in western Sweden. We also set up a town hall meeting for the voters in Umeå in northern Sweden.

We had political scientists make explainer videos to enlighten the viewers on important political topics. Our weekly live show about politics 'Bara Politik' gathered the most talked about politicians. During the show the viewers could interact via Facebook and ask questions to the party leaders.

At Expressen TV, we are proud that our staff today consists of 50% men, 50% women. We put a lot of effort in making everyone in our editorial team feel valuable. We listen to the wants and needs of our staff, and we offer the possibility of trying different fields of work. We have successfully developed a structure for ‘internal education’ in order to raise the competence. For example, several of our female co-workers who used to be reporters now also work as technicians in the gallery – a field of work that traditionally has few women.

In February 2019, Expressen TV launched the ‘TV school’. The mission is to teach all 280+ Expressen employees in working with moving images. By investing in new, user-friendly tools the staff will be educated in storytelling, editing and working on the field.

Results

In 2018 Expressen became Sweden’s only CNN affiliate. This means we can exchange programs and live reports making Expressen TV visible on the big network. We also have several educational exchanges for our staff.

Recently, Expressen TV won the ‘Kristallen’ - Sweden’s equivalent to the Emmy’s - for our ambitious breaking news journalism. The Kristallen was awarded to our staff for its coverage of the 2017 Barcelona terror attack.

Our Middle East correspondent Magda Gad also won a Kristallen award for her war diaries from various conflict zones. Gad has become highly appreciated for her many reportages about people in war-torn countries and has developed a close and unique contact with her viewers on Facebook.

Another 2018 award-winner is Expressen’s David Baas. His investigative reporting of the Swedish far-right movement played a big role in him winning Sweden’s greatest journalistic prize ‘Stora journalistpriset’.

Expressen reaches 4.8 million unique viewers (on mobile phones) an average week. In 2018, the audience grew 22,6%, compared to an average week 2017. Our main competitor Aftonbladet grew just 7,7 % during the same period of time. Expressen’s total traffic (page views + video views) grew 35%, in 2018 compared to the year before. The video views grew 182%. During the past year, we have intensified our work in texting our videos-on-demand, which has increased the average ‘time spent’ on the videos.

This entry was a winner at The Drum Online Media Awards 2019. To find out more about 2020’s Awards, click here.

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