Since we talked about journalism this week, I want to share with you the most beautiful example of multimedia reporting that I have seen so far. “Snowfall“, produced by the New York Times and written by John Branch, is surprising, breathtaking, and a seriously good piece of reporting on an avalanche, its victims and the aftermath.
The topography of the article is embellished with animations, slideshows, videos and sound recordings, and really shows how multimedia reporting can bring a story to life. You hear the 911 calls, you see animations of the avalanche, you watch interviews of the survivors, you browse through slideshows of photographs of the people and places involved. Very in depth, very absorbing, even for a non-skier like me. It’s not hard to see why the article won a Pulitzer, a Peabody and even a Webby award. Click here to see the article in all its enriched glory.
The New York Times has published other multimedia articles since then, most notably “A Game of Shark and Minnow”, also quite spectacular and gripping. But for me, Snowfall is the most beautiful and the most haunting.
Is this the future of online long-form journalism? No and yes. No, in that it is more complicated and costly to produce these amazing effects. Snowfall took 6 months and 11 people to produce, and few media can afford that sort of outlay. Also, no in that not all long-form journalism lends itself to this kind of visual. Yes, in that costs are coming down all the time. Platforms such as Scroll Kit (recently bought by WordPress) make production of stories like these easier (I haven’t tried it yet, but I will and I’ll let you know). HTML effects are getting more sophisticated. Soon, if not already, producing that kind of story will take a few hours and only a medium level of skill. Also, yes in that the impact and excitement of this new form of story-telling does leave you wanting more. The number of web publishers that offer this type of reporting will increase. Their work will be easier because of the New York Times, ESPN and other pioneers of the genre. We should thank those who got the ball rolling.