Webby for Good is a collaborative program formed by The Webby Awards and WP Engine to showcase Webby-recognized projects built to change the world.
There are over 1922 of people gone missing in the war. The people have long forgotten about them. But their families didn’t. We didn’t either.
- 24sata Team
What’s the elevator pitch for your project?
25 years ago Croatia was a warfront, fighting for independence. The battle is over, but 1922 families still carry the pain of not knowing the fate of their loved ones. The people have forgotten about them. Their families didn’t. We didn’t either. We decided to become the voice of the Gone.
Our campaign included video documentaries, influencers, website, guerilla marketing, and publishing of special editions on all our platforms (print, web, social, and video) with a black silhouette on every photo, symbol of the Gone.
2 Gone were found after our stories and 11 more due to Missing Persons Administration (MPA) efforts.
What was the impetus for this project? What real-world challenge were you trying to solve?
25 years ago Croatia was a warfront, fighting for the independence. While the battle is over, the families still carry the pain of not knowing the fate of their husbands, brothers, and sons.
There are over 1922 of people gone missing in the war.
The people have long forgotten about them.
But their families didn’t.
We didn’t either.
Every one of them has a story and the hardest stories are those that remain unfinished.
As we wanted to make and impact, we decided to dedicate two days in a year to the Gone by taking over all of the channels - online and offline - to deliver the message.
Once you settled on your idea, what was your first step in moving it forward?
The 25th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar, the Croatian heroic town marked the beginning of our search for the Gone. The project started in a form of a 5-minute documentary broadcasted every Sunday on YouTube, a special Facebook video, special article on the web and print edition. Each episode was an emotional and heartbreaking story encompassing the destiny of one missing person through their last photos, places they were last seen, stories, emotions and hopes of their loved ones. In 2018, we extended our search and took the campaign on a higher level.
Was there a moment during the project where you ran into a hurdle; or faced a problem you didn’t know how to solve? Take us to this moment, what happened and what did you do next?
We started the project with the content-focus, the weekly series of videos and articles, but it was easy for the stories about the Gone to be sidelined by breaking news, current events, and hundreds of articles published on our platform on a daily basis. We needed to find a way for the stories about the Gone to reach a wider audience and become as relevant as the biggest news published on our platforms.
Did the real-world impact meet your expectations? Can you share an example?
The real-world impact exceeded our expectations as we found two missing persons. Mira Nikal, after the video in the "Gone" series, received information on where her son's body was, and Marija Rauzan received documents from a prison guard which proved the death of her husband in prison in Slavonski Brod. Two families finally found their peace and, while 11 more were found in 2019 due to Missing Persons Administration efforts.
What technologies/media did you use to develop this project (AI, Social Media, WordPress, etc.)?
In 2018, we dedicated August 30th to all Missing Persons in Homeland War. All of the 24sata editions were filled with black silhouettes, representing the person violently taken away from his family. Profile pictures of thousands of Croatians and over a hundred influential people disappeared in support. All our activities led to a microsite, with stories we published so far. We made a followup on a memorial day of the Vukovar fall. All of the 24sata editions were published without images, to symbolize how lives of the Gone families are empty without their loved ones. We used guerrilla marketing in the biggest cities to mark public places with black silhouettes and posters of the Gone.
Was the tech/medium you chose crucial to conveying your message? If so, why?
The focus was on the impactful imagery - the black silhouettes, representing the person violently taken away from his family that was consistently simultaneously used across all tech platform (print, web, newsletter, social media) to deliver the message and maximize the reach.
How did this project defy your expectations?
The wave of positive feedback, becoming a national topic, reviving the investigation effort. It proves that media have the opportunity and responsibility to put the public’s spotlight on the stories that are not “breaking news,” but that are of the major importance.
How will you use technology in future work to create inspiring, cutting-edge projects that also make a difference in people’s lives?
As a media company we are primarily focused on delivering the news to our audience. Our aim is to continuously find new ways use the available technology to open more communication channels to the public. We are not focused on building reach, but to make readers integral part of our content creation and delivery, especially in the field of social-good oriented initiatives, by creating interaction and feedback opportunities.