Interactive journalistic narratives: Balancing authorial, user, and technological agency

Renée van der Nat

Research output: ThesisDoctoral thesis 2 (Research NOT UU / Graduation UU)


Interactivity as part of journalistic narratives is a common practice in newsrooms around the world. Interactive journalistic narratives developed as a subgenre of online journalism in the decade following Snow Fall: The Avalanche of Tunnel Creek (The New York Times, 2012) after which news organisations started to engage in interactive and multimedia storytelling. This complex journalistic genre involves a significant investment of time and money. It encompasses extensive research and engaging online storytelling, which both require advanced technological and journalistic skills. This thesis focuses on interactive journalistic narratives in the Netherlands. Using innovative qualitative research methods, this PhD research explores the consequences of interactivity for the narrative, the production process, and the user experience. The results reveal a tension between the promises of interactivity and the practical application thereof. Creators of interactive narratives hope to engage their audiences with interactive elements woven into their stories. This is part of the changing relationship between journalists and their audience. The results of this thesis indicate that journalists reimagine this relationship in a traditional way, meaning the audience is seen as a recipient of journalistic stories. However, creators deliberately use interactive elements in their journalistic storytelling to engage audiences. With moderate success it seems as the results of the audience study suggest; users reported an increased sense of involvement with the narratives when interactive options allowed them to personalise the story.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Utrecht University
  • Müller, Eggo, Primary supervisor
  • Bakker, P., Co-supervisor, External person
Award date1 Apr 2022
Place of PublicationUtrecht
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • interactive narratives
  • digital journalism
  • audience engagement
  • innovative storytelling
  • digital longform journalism
  • interactive documentary
  • imagined audience
  • innovative research methods
  • practice theory


Dive into the research topics of 'Interactive journalistic narratives: Balancing authorial, user, and technological agency'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this