Teaching Examples

Multimedia package: China’s Great Grab
January 31, 2007, 1:42 pm
Filed under: design, journalism, multimedia, online, storytelling

Among all the awards for advertising, NAA does give out a few Digital Edge awards for, um, journalism. Three sites won “Edgies” for innovative multimedia storytelling:

The one for the Chicago Tribune caught me by surprise. Multimedia? Chicago Tribune? Sure, I was very impressed by The Art of Listening, but that’s just a Soundslides.

So I hurried on over to their site and poked around some. Yes, they’ve been busy! I found China’s Great Grab, and naturally I have a few remarks about it.

Be more interesting: Even though I am quite interested in China, I could not watch any of the four videos to the end. Especially not the Intro. Either they were just too slow-paced or the reporter’s narrative was too flat — I don’t know, but I felt like I had had enough by about the halfway point for each one.

Put it all together: The graphics (such as The Hidden Costs of Cashmere) are very attractive, but they are not one bit integrated into the package. WHY NOT? Storytelling is a weaving of threads. This story is excellently chunked out into three segments: cashmere, timber and oil. But each segment is a hodgepodge of disconnected pieces.

Chicago Tribune's pop-up window

Test your functionality: Look at the screenshot above. The pop-up window has NO SCROLLBARS. The content inside it is bigger than the window, and YOU CAN’T RESIZE the window. Don’t you people look at your own stuff after you upload it? (All three graphics in this package had this problem. It can be fixed in the JavaScript.)

Don’t permit ads to interfere with your content: This ad may change, but when I viewed the package this morning, there was a right-side vertical ad for a spray cleaner, and it had its own audio. First it made a squirting noise. Then it went BOOM BOOM BOOM. It did this repeatedly, even while I was watching the Tribune’s video.

Eliminate redundancy: The manually operated slideshows also pop up; their windows are usable. However, the first photos in each photo gallery are shots that I already saw in the videos. So I was not very motivated to look at all the photos, but I persevered. After the first several pictures, there were new ones I had not seen before. (Maybe because they were at the end of the videos?)

This story is important, and overall, the subject is quite interesting. But I think we can do better than this in telling the story in the online medium — which offers us so many options for really captivating the people who come to our stories.

The Digital Edge award winners are listed here. Be patient — the page takes a long time to open.

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1 Comment so far
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I so agree with your critique about the lack of integration in the package. The video spot at the top of the page would be a perfect place for the graphics to reside.

Unfortunately, I can’t even see the graphics b/c of the pop-up box as you mentioned (had to open in a new window to see it). It’s a shame they’re static, recycled print graphics, too.

Have you seen what the St. Pete Times is doing with integrating a “story” in their multimedia package Dim view from a crowded jail (click on “48 hours on the inside”)?

Everything you want to know about this story is right there (although they do have a couple “previous” links below. No jumping to random extra pages.

Have to go blog about this now too … 🙂

Comment by Melissa Worden

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