Monday, March 02, 2009

New York Times coverage of Obama's speech - a different reporting form

  • The New York Times used the tools of the web to bring the story of Barack Obama's speech to Congress last week in a different and innovative way.
The web offers journalists many opportunities to report on events in ways that we never could have done with another medium. Witness the New York Times coverage of President Barack Obama's speech to Congress last week.

The Times had a straight news story on it, certainly, with all of the accompanying reactions and standard forms that print news stories are supposed to take.

But reporters and editors put together information about the speech in an innovative way that shows what can be done when a bit of creativity and imaginable are combined with the tools that the web gives to good editors and reporters. The screen shot to the right shows how the Times combined:
  • a video of the speech;

  • a marked timeline of the video so users could select a particular part of the speech if they wanted to;

  • a transcript of the speech so readers could follow along the video or simply read it without the video;

  • commentary and information from the reporters and editors about each part of the speech.
This package undoubtedly took some fancy coding to set it up correctly and some testing to make sure that it worked. No news organization could invest this kind of time and effort in anything less than a major story.

But here is an alternative to the straight narrative, and it is impressive.

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