"This fire leapt clear across two bays, hurdling at one point more than 3km of open water as if it was not even there. No one had ever seen that before."
Snow Fall, Meet Firestorm
If you haven’t checked it out yet—and I hope you have—The Guardian’s Firestorm, a Snow Fall-esque interactive long-form multimedia piece came out last month and it’s completely stunning.
From Poynter’s story on the teamwork required to put it together:
“I think you have to capture people’s hearts,” Francesca Panetta, special projects editor of interactive storytelling projects, said in a phone interview. “As with all kinds of storytelling, you can’t lose sight of that need to connect and touch people, whether it’s writing or radio or a complicated interactive.”
Firestorm is remarkable for a number of reasons, including the stellar video images and the subtle way that looping video is used behind the written story. The integration between words and video is handled with such finesse that the one doesn’t distract from the other.
“We’re very happy with the subtlety,” Panetta said.
The chapter navigation uses clear images and concise icons and labels, ensuring it’s always clear where you are in the story.
A project like Firestorm or The New York Times’ Pulitzer-winning interactive,Snow Fall, demands considerable resources. Twenty-three people are credited for Firestorm, which was three months in the making — actually a speedy turnaround for a project of this scale.
Many newsrooms don’t have that level of resources, of course. But they can still learn from The Guardian’s process and the project’s experiments with layered storytelling — and figure out ways to do something similar on a smaller scale.
Keep reading for key takeaways from the project.
FJP: I’ve been hearing people favor this one to Snow Fall but perhaps that’s because the story itself (which is incredibly moving) lends itself to a slightly more poignant interactive than Snow Fall…but both are fantastic. —Jihii
Bonus: E-book version of the story, which you can buy here, along with other Guardian shorts.
Photograph by Steve Ruark—AP
“If something’s not photographed, it’s easy to deny,” photographer Steve Ruark says. “It’s a fact that Americans are getting killed overseas. Making people look at it makes them weigh the costs.”
Since April 2009, the Associated Press has sent a still photographer to every dignified transfer of servicemen and women killed in Iraq or Afghanistan open to the media. Most often it is freelancer Steve Ruark, who has now attended almost 500 transfers since 2009.
See the photos on LightBox here.
#user generated content
AP has just released a number of updates to the AP Stylebook that deal specifically with technology, including entries on Android, circles (as in Google Plus groups), flash mob, Google Hangout, hashtag, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, retweet, Skype and tablet. As 10,000 Words points out, the update on User-Generated Content is particularly worth noting.
There are a number of challenges that face journalists handling UGC, most notably the issue of verification. Most broadly, do we know exactly what we are seeing, and how we have determined this? We should seek to tell the story surrounding each piece of video and audio and every photo we acquire with the level of accuracy people expect from the AP. This means tapping into our considerable knowledge base, drawing on the expertise of AP staff around the world.
Securing access to content can often be a challenge, especially in a breaking news situation when video or photos have been re-posted to social networks. You must always strive to seek the original source of the media you are seeking to acquire. Once that content owner has been identified, ask for permission to use the material, following all the established protocols the AP has in place.
(via AP Stylebook Updates Detail How To Handle User-Generated Content - 10,000 Words)
North Miami, Florida on Flickr.
As part of a partnership with the Haitian Heritage Museum, students in the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades at WJ Bryan Elementary School created newspapers depicting five important events in Haitian and Haitian-American history. Those events are: Columbus’ landing on Hispaniola; the establishment of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable’s trading post on the Chicago River; the seige of Savannah; the Louisiana Purchase; and Haitian Independence.
The museum asked me to visit the classes to answer questions about how newspapers come together. Flipping through their “final editions,” I love reading how the students put themselves into their reporting. So much imagination went into their “first-hand” accounts of historical events:
- I just witnessed Christopher Columbus land on Miami Beach, Florida. I heard a loud bang and saw a huge ship!
- As we report live from Savannah, Georgia, there is a war taking place.
- I can just imagine the day … sunny with a hint of chill in the air, tropical salt-filled winds coming in from the Caribbean Sea.
- Camera man, aim your camera towards the east. OMG! I can’t believe my eyes, it is three unusual-looking ships sailing towards us. Look, look, there are names on the sides of the ships that say, wait, I can’t make it out.
- We are not sure who these people are or what they want, so we are going to hide behind these massive green pine trees on the left hand side of the beach.
- I am ecstatic to inform you that I will be interviewing an EXTRAORDINARY young man whose impact on many lives will be remembered for a long time.
- Breaking news: The French troops just arrived just below Savannah and initiated a siege. Boom! Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop! That’s the sound of weapons firing. Ahhhhhhhh! That’s the sound of soldiers screaming.
- Reporting live from WJ Bryan Elementary School. Have a spectacular day!
"I think in the old days, the nexus of weirdness ran through Southern California, and to a degree New York City. I think it’s changed so that every bizarre story in the country now has a Florida connection. I don’t know why, except it must be some inversion of magnetic poles or something."
True fact, every time some major story breaks elsewhere, our newsroom braces for the inevitable, dreaded Florida Connection. (That makes it sound like a “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe” sort of spaceship, which is fairly accurate.)