I worked at Forbes when the New York Times debuted “Snowfall”, and it not only made a splash in our office, the admiration was felt industry-wide. Links to the piece were forwarded as quickly as memes were. It inspired the product department to see what else was possible with storytelling, and I suspect we weren’t the only media organization to feel that way. It was like nothing I had seen before in a digital publication, and certainly not one as austere as the New York Times. Looking at it at again, almost 10 years later, I still find it revolutionary. The design of the page, animated header, coupled with interview segments and video transformed a really interesting story into a beautiful and engaging digital experience. I only wish more publications had the resources to create such all-encompassing event for their features.
Wall Street Journal’s “Kowloon City” had a similar approach to the New York Times, but added more photographs, personal stories, sounds, and animations. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to view many of the videos, presuming this is an older story that’s not being updated on the back end, but I still enjoyed it. There was a section labeled “people” where they illustrated lives of specific individuals which certainly added to color to an already interesting story that I knew nothing about when I clicked the link.
The Boston Globe’s “Bayla the Whale” story also featured photos and video, but didn’t seem to be as polished, modern, or aesthetically beautiful as the Wall Street Journal or New York Times digital experience. The story was indeed compelling – about a scientist racing to save a whale that found itself covered in rope, seemingly to succeed but only finding out later he ‘failed’, however, it was richly layered with histories of the scientist, whales, and whales’ plight in the world. As a story, it was wonderful, but compared to the other experiences, it didn’t measure up.