Freedom House: Transnational Repression

Amplifying a Dangerous Authoritarian Trend Through a Dynamic Single Page Experience

Freedom House is founded on the core conviction that freedom flourishes in democratic nations where governments are accountable to their people. Best known for their comprehensive annual Freedom in the World report and interactive global map, the organization publishes groundbreaking work on the status of democratic practices and principles worldwide.

Goals

  • Introduce the concept of Transnational Repression—the practice of tracking, threatening, and suppressing citizens seeking amnesty in other countries—into the global spotlight.
  • Ensure that journalists, policymakers, and everyday citizens understand the depth, breadth, and scope of Transnational Repression worldwide.

Solutions

  • Create a powerful single unique page experience that tells a clear and compelling story of human suffering and government abuse.
  • Explain Transnational Repression in terms everyone can understand, and expose the magnitude of the problem.
  • Integrate the single page experience with the depth of research, information, and expertise available on FreedomHouse.org’s existing platform.

Results

+3:30 minutes time on page compared to 1:57 sitewide +Backlink traction from all major media outlets: NPR, New Yorker, New York Times, Washington Post, Atlantic, Foreign Affairs

Louder for the People in the Back: It’s called “Transnational Repression!”

While just about anyone can hear the name Jamal Khashoggi and know that the famous Washington Post journalist was assassinated while at the Saudi consulate in Turkey, in October 2018, just about no one would have been able to tell you exactly what happened to him: a terrifying act of Transnational Repression. Freedom House set out to change that.

It turns out that what happened to Jamal Khashoggi wasn’t an isolated incident—nearly 3.5 million people are at risk of transnational repression, with nearly 80 countries involved. For Freedom House, the first step in combating Transnational Repression and the spread of authoritarian reach was conducting rigorous research on the victims and perpetrators of this global phenomenon. Our work together? To make the first-ever report on Transnational Repression as compelling and clear as possible so that policy makers, journalists and governments might take notice and urge a change in course.

Transnational Repression homepage shown on desktop.

Fast, on budget, and done well? In this case, we can do all three.

ThinkShout and the Freedom House team worked side by side to launch the new freedomhouse.org in 2020, so when the need to design and build a bold new report experience arose, we were ready for the challenge. The team needed the concept of Transnational Repression to become a known part of our cultural lexicon. In order to do that, they knew they’d want a visually compelling report to draw in everyday readers—and, most importantly, journalists and policymakers who would be key to the concept’s amplification.

One challenge? The report itself consisted of dozens of components, including country cases, a map experience, individual stories, data sheets, and an in-depth, 10,000 word publication. None of these resources could be left out of the new content strategy, and still, we would need to focus on executing on a short timeline within a limited budget.

3-up mobile shot of TNR detail pages.

Weaving a unique experience into an existing information architecture.

Instead of focusing on all report components, ThinkShout decided to focus entirely on a single unique page that would tell the story of Transnational Repression and be incredibly shareable. Media outlets would be able to send deeply concerned readers to the report. Those readers would be able to share the report knowing that the concept would be immediately understood and alarming. And, through a strategic integration of freedomhouse.org’s existing content types, policy experts and government representatives could still dive into the details and tailor new approaches to address the scope of the problem.

TNR country pages and map showed on desktop and mobile.

“ThinkShout pitched us on a vision and angle to launch Transnational Repression that we hadn’t considered: Rather than focus on storytelling by adding functionality to our iconic interactive map, they helped us build a clear, compelling, human-centered single page experience that could communicate a powerful story and be the first stepin a user’s journey.”

~ Freedom House

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