Three members of the NYTimes newsroom joined us at the Circus to show off some of the online, interactive multimedia they’ve worked on. This Washingtonian certainly didn’t know about some of these videos and applications…despite the fact that many of these get play on the front page of NYTimes.com they seem to have a mysterious ability to slip under people’s radar, as we’re not the only ones who were mystified by some of this stuff.
Obviously, Word Train is a biggie. But did you know that Word Train got reused with the recession, now called Living With Less? The recession’s also spawned a share-your-frugal-tips-through-Twitter feature called Survival Strategies.
On the political side, they’ve done a pick-your-own cabinet feature called If You Were President, and a pick-your-own Supreme Court nominee. They used user-submitted photos for inauguration coverage. They had 3600 submissions and approved 900 photos.
They’re promoting user-generated content heavily: a gallery of user-submitted Polaroids was prominently displayed on the front page of NYTimes.com on May 29.
Of course, the Times does more than UGC. Check out this audio slideshow, part of One In 8 Million, which profiles New Yorkers. Andrew DeVigal says that this series wouldn’t have been possible without a strong collaboration with the Times photo desk.
Another collaboration was between the interactive team and the metro desk. A Metro reporter was following what happened to a man released from prison after DNA evidence exonerated him; the Times interviewed ex-inmates who were all in the same situation and created an interactive feature.
DeVigal says he’s often asked how the team knows when interactive is worth doing, and one of the answer
is if it’s scalable. [We were asked to remind y’all that multimedia at the Times is an important form of journalism on its own and isn’t done just because it’s “cheap.” Regardless, the cost-effectiveness of building something that you can re-use will definitely become—if it isn’t already—an important consideration, to the beancounters, at least.] Build it once, use it many times.
It strikes us that data-driven, scalable, interactive journalism can only grow more valuable with time. The Times election map can be re-used during the next election, but can store all the historical data in the same map. How much more valuable will that map be when it has data from 2012, 2016 and beyond? Assuming the Times is still around, of course.