A multimedia story about Russian life

The New York Times has been developing a fine form of digital storytelling.

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 It’s a kind of journalism that uses a mix of maps, visualizations, images, video, and text to explore a topic in depth.

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 “The Russia Left Behind” is a fine example.

The story takes a reporter (and the reader/viewer) along the road running south from St. Petersburg to Moscow, stopping at several towns to learn about their experiences.  It’s sad, even heartbreaking stuff, describing personal and infrastructure stagnation and decline.

As a digital story, “Russia Left Behind” presents some fascinating features.

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The road trip structure appears throughout the document in the form of a sketch map perpetually fastened to the screen’s left margin (see above).

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 It highlights and centers on the location being discussed to the right.

Video and photos, often edited into video clips, complement the text by portraying individuals and their environments, enhancing or adding to textual content.

“Russia Left Behind” is primarily about these people, letting their stories appear briefly but potently in only a few details.

Two questions come to my mind.

  1. Is there a name for this kind of storytelling?  “Multimedia journalism” is far too broad.  “Multimedia HTML” is technically accurate, but not very helpful.
  2. Is there an authoring tool which will let individuals lacking the New York Times’ capital base create these kind of documents?  HTML5 requires coding, and Flash now has serious hardware limitations.
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12 Responses to A multimedia story about Russian life

  1. Bryan Murley says:

    Adobe’s Flex software does simple parallax scrolling web sites with minimal coding (although the learning curve for the software itself can be pretty steep).

  2. Bryan Murley says:

    Also, skrollkit.com will do simple parallax stories with multimedia elements.

  3. I love the potential for some simpler variation of this form for my college research papers–called usually The Multi Genre Research Paper. Hmmm yes, Gives me ideas!

  4. What a fine idea, Sandy. What subject area for these papers?

  5. mike simpson says:

    Adobe has software for creating HTML5 animations. It’s called Edge Animate. and you can output for web, iBooks and Adobe Digital Publishing suite. Requires no coding. Really awesome. This software was released initially in summer 2011.

  6. tokyokevin says:

    Not quite as fancy, but maybe hood enough for Ms. Brown Jensen, Mozzilla’s Popcorn integrates multimedia elements into a single presentation. https://popcorn.webmaker.org/

  7. I’ve been meaning to play with it, tokyokevin, especially as Alan Levine has been working hard on the Popcorn.

  8. From inside of this situation (screenshot features the interchange I pass on the way to school/work every day) it is quite a reflective journey. Times did good.

  9. Which town or city, Ermolay?

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