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Nieman Journalism Lab
Pushing to the future of journalism — A project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard

How can media companies re-invent the story? Specifically, how can the designers, coders, and other product-minded people help make storytelling a richer experience through technology?

This is the question teams of journalist tried to answer at SND Prototypes, an event that was part of the Society for News Design’s World’s Best competition for digital design.

Journalists from Vox Media, The Boston Globe, USA Today, BuzzFeed, and CNN Digital were among the participants who worked on projects designed to improve mobile reading, build forms for context in stories, and track social conversations around the news.

Here’s a sampling of the projects. There’s also more background and discussion as well as working prototypes and code:

Skim: A tool that could make longform stories easier to browse by using summary cards to split the story into chunks or a system of anchors that delivers readers to key parts of a story.

Backstory: This team wanted to find a method for explaining how new stories relate to other narratives or older information. Here’s how they approached it:

The idea is that each story is really a topic with an initial event and a series of updates. While reading one of these updates, the reader is always in the context of the story’s narrative arc, and can easily figure out what happened up to the present point in the timeline. Unread or new stories are called out, giving the user a quick way of seeing where they are in the timeline.

Sluice: This javascript app would allow readers and people inside news organizations to aggregate specific discussions around stories in social media. Sluice would be a way to pinpoint the specifics of why a story is being shared: “We are trying to create a system that showcases that behavior around the story, in a sense showing the exact point of “here is where the conversation is” by highlighting the words or phrases being used in social shares.”

Moving Stories: This prototype would make it possible for viewers to better skim video content without losing important information. As the team writes:

After our initial group discussions, we arrived at a design solution that enables users to consume video content at their own pace in a full screen gallery-like display without sacrificing the narrative. Text and graphic elements can be placed on an overlay atop the video so the user can get a quick-hit of content without necessarily having to watch each video segment.

— Justin Ellis
                                   
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Justin Ellis    Aug. 25, 2014
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