Acknowledging the Perfection of Snow Fall

It appears that with the development of technology and the progressive movement of multimedia journalism, more and more readers seek great pieces that tell a story not only with words, but also visuals and audio. As readers, we want to hear the voice of the interviewee. To truly feel like we’re getting the full story, we want first person. Photographs do an amazing job of giving a glimpse into the story, but video and audio have made understanding the emotions a bit easier. 

In honor of the snow days this past week, I thought what better time than to bring into account the masterpiece that is Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek by John Branch. Snow Fall was published a few years back in the NY Times as a multimedia feature, a multiple forms of media it is. Snow Fall tells the tragic story of several winter sports enthusiasts’ fates intertwining with a massive avalanche in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. 

What makes this piece so appealing is its use of visuals. The piece blends the written word with interactive maps and graphics, video interviews and pictures. It tells every angle of the story, including interviews with those involved, detailed descriptions of the area and even the weather that occurred leading up to and during the time of the event. At the end of the piece, Snow Fall shows where the survivors are now and how they’ve coped with the tragedy.

Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek is truly the essence of multimedia journalism. There are so many bits and pieces to the story that no one person could possibly produce the work shown in Snow Fall. The story is compelling on its own, of course, but if Branch had simply written the account, it would not have gotten nearly the acknowledgement and credit it deserves. 

After a little digging, I discovered the article, How We Made Snow Fall. It gives a detailed description of all the hard work put into the story and credits a number of extremely talented people that were a part of the crew. 

With a new standard in multimedia journalism, I can’t begin to imagine what every news outlet is working on. Snow Fall is extremely difficult to live up to. It is the epitome of multimedia, brought together in one amazing piece. But I think with such high expectations, a few news organizations have something good up their sleeves and I look forward to reading them/interacting with them. 

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One Comment

  1. A thought I had after reading your post-
    Now that “Snowfalling” is a newsroom buzzword, I think it’s important to emphasize that underneath it’s glossy surface is truly great design. The typography is consistent and easily read, and the responsive elements feel natural and don’t force themselves on the reader. When I read The Guardian’s multimedia feature on the NSA a few months ago, I felt like they had tried to emulate the aesthetics of Snowfall but failed to recreate the great design behind it’s accessibility. Now I wonder if there should be a set of standards for multimedia features like these, just like the ones we use to evaluate excellent journalism in J2000.

    Reply

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