The Best Online Storytelling and Journalism of 2013

In 2012 I posted a round-up of the best online journalism of the year, which grew as others added their favorites. My list focused on journalism that could only be done online, the kind of storytelling that take advantage of the unique opportunities the Internet provides. This tended to be deeply visual reporting that wove together text, audio, images and videos.

As I created my 2013 list however, I saw much more data journalism and an increasing use of tools that engaged readers or rethought the basic flow of storytelling for a more participatory audience.

The ghosts of the New York Time’s “Snow Fall” article from 2012 haunted debates about online journalism in 2013 – it even became a verb. Joe Pompeo, the media reporter at Capital New York, defined “snowfalling” this way: “To execute the type of expensive, time-consuming, longform narrative multimedia storytelling that earned the Times’ ambitious ‘Snow Fall’ feature a Pulitzer last month.”

But 2013 also saw innovative journalists and newsroom developers taking interactive, multimedia storytelling in new directions too. And while I don’t cover them in-depth below, there were

Be sure to also check out the Online Journalism Award winners, which includes a number of amazing projects not listed here. And, in terms of a meta look at the field, I think Eric Newton’s “Searchlights and Sunglasses” is both a critical tool for rethinking journalism education and a model of online storytelling itself.

As in 2012, consider this list a provocation, a challenge to you to fill in the blanks and tell me what I missed. This list is by its nature biased around topics and people I followed this year, I don’t suggest it is comprehensive, so please take advantage of the comments section to add your favorites (or send me a note on Twitter). Continue reading

The Best Online Storytelling of 2012

This post is more of a provocation than an actual end of year “best-of” list. So I’m relying on you to help me fill in the gaps.

Inspired by the New York Times’ recent Snow Fall project, I asked my followers on Twitter to send me examples of the best multimedia journalism of 2012. I was looking for the kind of stories that could really only be told online because they brought together a diverse range of elements including some mix of text, video, audio, data and interactivity all in one package.

Here are the stories I’ve collected so far (in no particular order), but I know there are others. Add your favorite examples to the comments section.

New York Times – Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek
Stunning for both its design and how the elements worked together – text amplifying images and video, and video bringing life and depth to the narrative. Here is a great post about how they made Snow Fall.
http://projects.nytimes.com/2012/snow-fall-preview

Symbolia – A Newly Launched iPad Magazine of Graphics Journalism
Symbolia combines illustrated works of journalism with interactivity, audio and more. CJR described it as combining “the rugged hand-drawn texture of a 90’s zine with the investigative vigor and left-leaning politics of Mother Jones.”
http://www.symboliamag.com/

Frontline – A Perfect Terrorist: David Coleman Headley’s Web of Betrayal
Made possible using new video editing and interactive technology from Mozilla, called Popcorn, Frontline took the documentary to the next level.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/labs/i/perfect-terrorist/

California Watch – In Jennifer’s Room
Poynter described this multimedia, living graphic novel as a powerful way to address tell a challenging and emotional story of abuse.
http://californiawatch.org/node/18695
(CIR’s Cole Goins also recommended their mapped report on wait-times at veterans offices: http://cironline.org/reports/map-where-veterans-backlog-worst-3792)

NPR StateImpact – Boomtown
Boomtown is like an audio slideshow on steroids. The StateImpact team creating an engaging report that didn’t end at one website but branched out across a range of platforms and partners.
http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/boomtown/

BBC – Superstorm USA: Caught on Camera
Made almost entirely of crowdsourced cell phone footage, this stunning documentary was a huge undertaking in combining critical journalism with massively distributed user generated video.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p122s

Cartoon Movement / Susie Cagle – Down in Smoke
Cagle’s cartoons are layers of journalism stacked and juxtaposed, creating powerful accounts of moments in time. Cagle uses Thinglink to layer audio over her images.
http://www.cartoonmovement.com/icomic/44 

Continue reading