Creatavist: A new way to bring stories to life – Knight Foundation

Creatavist: A new way to bring stories to life

If you read David Boeri’s web series on Whitey Bulger published by WBUR, Boston’s NPR station, (which, really, you should), two things stand out: the truth is often stranger than fiction and seamless use of images, audio and text really help tell one of the most interesting and macabre gangster stories of our time.  

In addition to being drawn to the compelling journalism, what’s exciting to me about the story is the roll of Creatavist, the content management system that’s being used, in delivering the seamless experience of the WBUR series.

Knight invested in Atavist, the company who built Creatavist, last year through the Knight Enterprise Fund, with the hope that the company would be able to dramatically lower the cost of multimedia storytelling for journalists, particularly smaller newsrooms.

Founded in 2009 by a group of seasoned writers, including Evan Ratliff, Jefferson Rabb and Nicholas Thompson, Atavist was initially a stand-alone magazine made for tablets. The company’s business quickly evolved— to give others the chance to license the software used to publish the Atavist magazine. Takers included TED Books, the Paris Review and The Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

WBUR, however, is among the first to use the newly launched Creatavist, a freemium product, that gives journalists the ability to create stories on the web, and easily publish them to e-books and apps. 

The acclaim and attention that the New York Times received for last year’s SnowFall, which garnered an audience of over 3 million people, showed what can happen when you marry quality journalism with first class multimedia story telling.

Our hope is that Creatavist will be able to make such storytelling accessible to a wider range of news orgs and journalists. The debut of the Whitey Bulger feature is one big step in that direction. Can’t wait to see what other news Creatavist helps bring to life in this way.

By Ben Wirz, director/business consulting at Knight Foundation