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NBC News Launches Social Video Studio Left Field

Variety logo Variety 6/13/2017 Janko Roettgers
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After teasing it with a trailer last week, NBC News officially launched its Left Field social video unit Tuesday. Left Field aims to reinvent storytelling for viewers who primarily get their news from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and is being staffed by journalists from around the world.

Some of Left Field’s first videos include a story about refugee squatters in Amsterdam and one about a museum of failure in Sweden. Upcoming videos will include one about military youth camps in Ukraine and one about coal mining in Kentucky.

Left Field will publish its videos on its own website as well as on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube and eventually also on set-top boxes.

In addition to short online features, Left Field is also looking to experiment with other forms of storytelling, including live streaming and even audio distribution — and we’re not talking podcasts: As part of its launch, Left Field set up a phone line to let callers listen in on audio extras, as well as leave their own stories for the Left Field team.

Altogether, NBC News hired 10 full-time staffers for Left Field, as well as a handful of part-timers. The staff is led by BBC alum Matt Danzico, and includes former GQ editor Freddie Campion and former CNN producer Haimy Assefa. Half of them live outside of the United States, and almost the entire team is new to NBC News.

Left Field isn’t the first project by a major broadcaster that aims to find a new voice for social media. Qatar-based Al Jazeera launched AJ+ with a similar focus in 2014. AJ+ has since become one of the most-viewed video publishers on Facebook.

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