Real characters the centre of Anzac coverage

News Corp Australia has launched a wide-ranging social media and editorial campaign in the lead up to the centenary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli, drawing on genuine diary entries and historical documents to breathe life into the events surrounding April 25, 1915.
150330 AnzacLive Tiles

The project, known as AnzacLive, has been in the planning phase for 12 months, and will use Facebook as a platform to recount the personal experience of 10 people involved in the historic Dardanelles landing.

Each person has been assigned three journalists who will act as “character custodians”, replying to interactions and responding to questions on that character’s individual Facebook page.

“In most cases we approached the families,” AnzacLive editor Justin Lees said.

He said there was a genealogist on the team, as well as a UK writer who is related to Australian soldier, and AnzacLive character, Arthur James Adams.

The 10 Facebook pages that launched on Sunday already having received around 20,000 combined likes.

150330 AnzacLive PostMr Lees said the project was fundamentally different to most historical re-enactments, in that there is almost infinite scope for storytelling and creating a sense of character.

“It’s giving the small anecdotes and glimpses into life that you just don’t get from the textbooks, or even most TV docos or re-enactments.

“One hundred years is nothing – they had the same hopes, fears, humour, obsessions in some cases, and that’s the beauty of Facebook.”

National wine writer Tony Love, senior reporter for the Sunday Times Peter Law and The Courier-Mail entertainment editor Nathaneal Cooper are among the journalists taking care of the characters’ social media profiles.

The custodians will interact and answer questions in the voice of each individual character. If a question comes through that cannot be answered in the character’s voice, an AnzacLive narrator can step in with a neutral answer and context that the character may not be able to provide.

The activity on Facebook also has the potential to generate stories across the group, with a number of Facebook users relaying information about their relatives which editors have passed on to other mastheads.

“It’s the centenary, and we want to mark it in a special and different way,” Mr Lees told The Newspaper Works.

“To do it in this way that is both telling stories and listening to other people’s stories and sharing them, it’s wonderful.”

AnzacLive will also run a live blog on April 25, recounting the details of the Gallipoli landing in real time.

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