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Digital storytelling a natural fit for Olympic Winter Games

World News Publishing Focus

World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

Digital storytelling a natural fit for Olympic Winter Games

These stories combine text, video, and social media into one complete viewing experience.

Leading the way are American publications Sports Illustrated and The New York Times, and Germany's Spiegel Online.

Sports Illustrated’s integrated stories are on its SI Longform extension. Its biggest integrated story is a Meet Team USA feature. In the story, viewers can navigate through high quality photos of American athletes, and click for a brief biography, a video showcasing the athlete, and their social media accounts. SI author Phil Taylor provides a complementary text, “Sending our Very Best,” that provides a historical context and more background information on certain American athletes.

The New York Times began its Winter Olympics integrated storytelling coverage in January, with a feature on American snowboarder Shaun White. The story uses several photos of White clad in a suit while snowboarding. There is also a video of White performing a snowboard trick.

The Times has another feature on White that was created during the Olympics. It allows users to scroll down to various videos of White, including a brief interview. The videos are followed by a paragraph of text. The background of the story changes as the story continues.  

Other integrated stories from The Times include, “Fourth Place: Just Missing a Medal,” a chronicle on athletes who barely miss reaching the podium, and, “Is That a Luge in Times Square,” a hypothetical take on how the Winter Olympics would look if held in New York City.

German news source Spiegel Online created an interactive story where readers can navigate from Moscow to Sochi, with stops at several towns in between. The stops include several pictures and accompanying text, with the story background changing as the reader scrolls down.

The differences between a normal news article and an integrated story are profound. Integrated stories are more interactive, containing pictures, video, and sometimes, social media activity. The scroll down feature is another hallmark of integrated storytelling. By moving along in the story, the background, and often text format, changes. There is usually a navigational tool on one side of the screen as well, displaying where in the story the reader is, and the other parts of the story.

While integrated storytelling for breaking news may not work, the method is perfect for longer, more in-depth feature stories.

For news publishers, the draw is an increased, more engaged audience, which in turn means advertisers get greater exposure as consumers stay on the same page for longer periods of time.


Salim Valji


2014-02-11 15:51

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