Saturday, January 12, 2013

The New York Times Launches "Snowfall," a Multimedia Masterpiece

The New York Times started a new project,"Snowfall," on last February's Tunnel Creek snow avalanche. Launched last month, featuring multiple chapters and integrated multimedia, the feature feels more like an experience than an article.

While the clips and moving maps might be unpredictable, the project works because the transitions are smooth.

The reader is not only pulled in, but invited in. The top of the article shows a video loop of snow falling off of a mountain cap, along with its title "Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek." Scroll down, and it reads like a conventional article, including a video interview with Elyse Saugstad, a survivor of the avalanche, on the right side. Farther along the article a birds' eye view tour of Washington's Cascades is given through a mp4 video file. The article resumes, a skier skids down a hill and the snow hits the camera lens.

All six of the chapters follow a similar format. After a scenic title, a few short paragraphs, and an image becomes a clip interspersed within a body of text. The project combines static words with the movement of both two and three dimensional maps and diagrams.

Still, writers wonder, is this the future of journalism?

It's an experiment. The New York Times demonstrates with "Snow Fall" how old, established publications can integrate new technology for the future of journalism.

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