Wouldn’t it be cool if interactive stories, such as those created by The New York Times, would be available for local and community news? Our group NewsKit is bringing interactive media to the traditional newspaper website. Modern function and design is no longer limited to the biggest national newspapers such as the New York Times.
We are working with local newspaper the Athens Banner-Herald to produce a compilation of their three part series on education to engage readers. ABH Interactive is changing the way that local newspapers are able to display and communicate news. Instead of staying flat on a page, stories are brought to life using Adobe Muse, incorporating parallax scrolling, data visualization, and more elements to present information in a new participatory way.
Our project book will act as a guidebook for other local papers to transition their local news toward interactive online stories. The guidebook will include photographs and steps so the reader can easily recreate the infographics and other elements used in the interactive story.
Our work combining digital media strategies and local news is a compelling and important initiative, but also a challenging one. The two main challenges newsrooms face today are thinking *digitally as a team and the learning curve required. Many journalists have decades worth of experience in reporting, editing, and writing, but lack the skills that propel news into the future–such as coding and information design. These skills do not come easily, even with the extensive open-source resources available online. Also, the relationship between reporters and designers must be fluid and collaborative in order to make a product that represents excellent journalism and innovative design. We have approached these challenges by meeting with the Athens Banner Herald staff weekly to discuss ideas and updates, and experiment with many resources available online including Google Fusion Tables, charts.js, highcharts.js, and many more. Some of these require more programming knowledge than others, but this kind of curiosity fuels newsrooms to create new and exciting products.
Our client, The Athens Banner-Herald, is a professional newspaper for the Athens community. It has a circulation of around 32,000.
The first story of the series was released on Sunday, Feb. 1 in the Athens Banner-Herald’s paper. It revolves around the state of standardized testing in Georgia. While based on state and national data, reporter Lee Shearer focuses on the human effect of these tests, both for students and faculty members.
We wanted to highlight both aspects of this story in our interactive version of the story. Because this was the first article, we took it upon ourselves to experiment with different technologies and programs in order to best showcase the story and its data.
We have weekly meetings with some key members of the ABH team. We stay in constant communication with its Vice President of Audience, Director of Presentation Editor, Optimization Editor as well as the reporters covering this series.