No resources? No problem: How a local Russian paper took on the New York Times

A large number of the ambitious or innovative digital journalism stories featured on 10,000 Words are produced by larger newsrooms with more resources to devote to more elaborate projects. One in 8 Million, a multimedia look at some of New York City’s interesting residents, is one such project.

As part of a training workshop I recently conducted in the Russian city of Berdsk (view photos from the sessions here), I showcased interesting slideshows and online journalism, including the New York Times feature.

The staff of the local paper Курьер.Среда (Kurer-Sreda) were immediately intrigued by the project and set out to replicate it in what they called “Один из 97000” or “One of the 97,000,” a nod to the Berdsk’s 97,000 residents. The number of staff was less than you can count on two hands, yet within hours they began reporting and capturing photos and audio, despite a considerably fewer resources than a major news organization like the Times.

Also unlike the New York Times, there are no Flash developers in the newsroom so the staff took a low-tech approach. They built photo slideshows with the free program Windows Movie Maker, uploaded them to YouTube and posted to the site. They also created photo stories accompanied by text. The slideshow below centers around an employee of a local tanning salon and her advice on getting a good tan.


Instead of featuring all of the individual photo stories in one package, the paper’s staff decided to feature one or two a day on the front page of the site so as not to overwhelm readers. The result is a compelling series of multimedia stories that offer insight into the lives of the citizens of Berdsk. Best of all, the reporters had a fun time putting them together. All of the stories are in Russian and even if you don’t speak the language I’d encourage you to check them out here, here and here.

The lesson here is to be inspired by some of the large-scale projects produced by major news organizations but don’t be so intimidated that you don’t attempt to create them for your audience. Also, don’t just copy what other newsrooms are doing — make a project your own and create interesting multimedia stories that will appeal to your readers or viewers.

Also on 10,000 Words:

10 Inspirational New York Times multimedia and interactive features
5 Creative uses of Flash and interactive storytelling
8 Ways to save money on your next multimedia project