The Art of Storytelling at the Wall Street Journal

How does technology intersect with journalism? At an off-site executive seminar at the Wall Street Journal, Mona Soni and Shazna Nessa discuss how technology has been able to further enhance their storytelling methods. Nessa, the Chief Visuals Editor, says the WSJ is in the process of experimenting with different types of technology to see what is most useful in terms of increasing engagement. She notes that graphics and audio have a huge impact on the vividness of a story, which in turn leads to increased engagement. As a result, the person who is telling the story is evolving. Nessa reveals that the individual who constructs the story and visuals is often the same person, rather than two distinct individuals, as done in the past. In other words, people with backgrounds in graphics are becoming more and more involved in alternative methods of storytelling. Soni, the Senior Director of Engineering, notes that another method of increasing engagement is AI. Both Soni and Nessa believe the web strips us of interaction with the material we read. “It needs to live in Google or Facebook,” says Nessa, “which is very constricting.” Through AI, it is possible that the Wall Street Journal may find ways to make the web more interactive and engaging.

Although Soni and Nessa now work in the art of storytelling, it was not always that way. Nessa majored in French and English Literature and delved briefly into non-profit work. She stressed that “nothing is set in stone,” and asks that young college students keep their options open and seize opportunities that arise. Likewise, Soni believes that it is always important to “be curious” and be willing to experiment with one’s life until they find the right path for them. In a time where finding one’s passion is deemed especially important, this advice is crucial for students as they look towards their future career.