Flash Flood: Hurricane Katrina's Inundation of New Orleans
This was an early version of multimedia storytelling. It’s solely an interactive graphic but allows viewers to follow Hurricane Katrina in a time stamped fashion. It’s not the most sexy interactive graphic, I will admit. However, I can follow it. I understand how the hurricane traveled. More importantly, I was engaged the whole time learning about it.
Another story that I believe is a good multimedia example is The Plain Dealer’s “Facing Forward” series about a woman named Johanna who was beaten by her boyfriend. One of my former professors, Rachel Dissell, is the reporter on it. As a word girl, I admire Rachel’s writing in the eight-part series. She introduces dialogue between the people in the story almost as if she was there telling it. She creates characters, tells a compelling story and at the same time encourages awareness about teen dating violence. The PD also has one web page where it files all stories about Johanna so that readers can follow the most up to date news about her.
While all this is convenient for readers, one aspect of this piece I don’t like is that multimedia is not embedded into the story. There aren’t any slideshows or interactive graphics that give the reader a break from the text. But, in my opinion, the text doesn’t need breaks. It’s compelling and written in such a way where you have no choice but to keep scrolling.
Although its written nationalistically, I would consider this a historical multimedia narrative, not so much a story. It has title pages that make a statement with powerful images and short quotes that make readers want to keep reading. I liked that with every scroll, my mouse touched a new multimedia element whether it was a video, a row of documents or a photo. Each section of the story is divided into short chapters. I know after I scanned the story, I was surprised at how short each section was and how easy it was to get through such a dense topic.
I also liked how one of the first multimedia elements in the story was a video that summarized this issue. For me, it told readers why they should care, why they need to actually read the story. Other multimedia elements followed including graphs, lots of photos and pull quotes.
This story and “The Other 9/11” both also utilize whitespace well. The text is in the center with white space surrounding it. Multimedia elements act as a welcome break in the whitespace for the reader. Paragraphs are also easy to read as they are maybe two sentences at length. Keeping paragraphs short adds to the whitespace and overall digital artistry that this story, as well as other I’ve discussed in this post, possess.