Photo: The New York Times
As the definition of journalism is changing, so is our understanding of what constitutes a news story.Technologists, reporters and citizen journalists continued to push the boundaries of innovative storytelling this year.
Whether it was a traditionally print media company’s approach to more multimedia storytelling or a private oil company’s push to expand its transparency by providing live online video feeds, 2010 news consumers digested vital information in the most interesting of ways.
Some of the examples we included won awards at the 2010 Online Journalism Awards conference. You can click here to see more of the projects that were honored.
The Washington Post recently put together an entire story based on Facebook updates alone. The story of Shana Greatman Swers is an incredible one, told through screenshots of her Facebook status updates and some background commentary by Washington Post reporter Ian Shapira. Swers was a 35-year-old mother-to-be who also happened to be an enthusiastic Facebook updater. The story is a testament to the power of reading a source's narration of her own story and a commentary on how people are living their lives through Facebook.
This data visualisation project by CNN.com pays homage to more than 6,000 troops from more than 20 countries who have died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Users can search soldiers by last name, age, hometown, location of death and date of death. Additionally, CNN harnessed the power of its iReport and readers have uploaded memories and additional details about their loved ones.
As social media grows, so does the aggregation of user-generated content. Pictory founder Laura Brunow is the editor and designer of this photo blog. She posts an editorial theme, such as the most recent 'Secrets of Inspiring Women,' and asks users to submit a captioned photo relating to that theme. She chooses the best ones and posts them in a form of a photo essay.
Mint.com offers personal finance services and data to its readers. Its easy to use personal finance database allows users to budget and track their spending. In turn, they aggregate all this anonymous data, which creates a pretty accurate depiction of over 17 million Americans' financial accounts. By allowing people to see where others are spending their money, Mint Data provides one interesting snapshot of America's financial landscape.
Founded as an independent, non-profit in 2008, ProPublica has produced some of the best investigative reporting of critical issues during a time when most newspapers are cutting back on original, in-depth reporting. Their reporting on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is particularly exceptional because of the way they chose to present their stories. Their coverage includes an interactive timeline and regularly updated 'Case Files' of different people affected by post-Katrina crime in New Orleans.
Groupon isn't a news website. But as Thrillist CEO Ben Lerer said, 'The most well-read publication now might be Groupon.' With its short daily narratives on the coupons it sells, it allows buyers to gain a more in-depth understanding of the products they are purchasing versus traditional advertising. Groupon represents a revolutionary way of spreading information about a company's products and services.
USA Today built a three-part story detailing how New Orleans post-Katrina struggles. The project includes maps, interactive visuals, video and text. The project is 'read' almost like an interactive novel, where users are taken through each chapter of the story. One of the coolest parts of the project is the section with panoramic views of the city.
More media outlets are understanding the value of data mining and building useful databases for their readers. This LA Times Teacher Ratings database is just one example of how the media has begun to develop digital libraries for its readers. You can search the database by teacher or by school and see what others have rated the teacher.
Hate it or love it, WikiLeaks has played a significant role in this year's media landscape and news storytelling. They aren't necessarily innovative in their story presentation, but they are quite alternative when it comes to how they 'report' their stories. While many debate whether WikiLeaks should even be called a news organisation, you can't ignore the access they-- not other media outlets-- have gotten to confidential information through its anonymous sources.
News sites really embraced Tumblr as a way to connect with old and new readers in a more casual and conversational tone. The Atlantic Tumblr posts short excerpts of their own stories, usually with a cool photo, noteworthy quotes of the day, and aggregates other news of the day.
BP was intensely criticised for its lack of transparency and the way it treated media reporters during this summer's oil spill. Finally, at the request of a congressman, BP made all its the 12 live feeds available for the public to view online in real-time. In the case of the BP oil spill, these images played a critical role in the unfolding of the story.
The New York Times has been producing innovative multimedia for a few years now. But its most recent 'A Year at War' project is particularly poignant in its presentation and content. The project features the Times's traditional in-depth reporting, but also short video reports, known as 'Moments,' which have no narration and only last a few seconds.
News 21's Powering a Nation is a student-produced project by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Several different schools participate in News 21's projects, but this year Powering a Nation clearly stood out because of its unique multimedia reporting on the oil spill. The project features multimedia interviews and stories, as well as interactive games and blog posts written about the project.
This is another extraordinary example of a newspaper mining data and developing itself as a digital library. The Texas Tribune's Data Pages include interactives that tracked congressmen's personal financial statements, campaign finance reports and campaign expenditures.
After the Haiti earthquake in January, people were left worrying above loved ones in the disastered country. CNN built a phenomenal database and again harnessed the power of their iReporters to help people connect with one another. This is truly citizen journalism at its most useful.
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