The story I chose to do a case study on was one that is very close to my heart – equal opportunity. The topic covered is Segregation Now, by Steve Engelberg and Robin Fields, published on ProPublica. Throughout the story, readers are taken on a journey of when schools were first segregated, how they became integrated and in recent events have started to revert back to old ways. While doing showing the resegregation of public schools, the authors cover the lives of three African Americans and how their lives have been effected by past and recent events. Using multimedia interactive storytelling technique, Segregation Now puts the reader in the driver’s seat and takes the story at their own pace while getting a chance to play with some interactive elements that creatively incorporate serious subject matter.
The text formatting is broken up into chapters – first James, then Melissa and finally D’Leisha. The multimedia story does this by beginning with slideshows of photos without audio for strong visual stories that have short, powerful statements about segregation in schools and the progression and regression of strides that were made over the decades.
After the story catches the readers attention with tag lines and visual story telling, the text goes into chunking format. Chunking, “keep paragraphs short [and centered around] one idea.” With this, the reader is captured by the story that’s theme is how one person’s experience is altered by historical events regarding segregation. The story strays from using listicles or Q and A’s because they would be irrelevant to the overall read and message. Although the story does use photos, they are merely aids in telling the story rather than the only form of story telling.
Incorporating photos of the individuals the story touches on brings authenticity to the table. Which brings me back to our reading in The Power of Visual Storytelling, “People want the unpredictable, but familiar at the same time. They want real, candid moments from everyday life. Moments that speak to the human experience. That’s the kind of connection that secures a strong and stable bond.” The authors of ProPublica: Segregation Now capture that by having real people in candid moments and some in posed but in very familiar clothing or settings.
The usage of block quotes at the beginning of a chapter really grabs your attention and hints at what the chapter will entail. Like the perfect wrap up and introduction to the next aspect of segregation. drawing attention to serious content and gut checking facts that remind the reader that segregation is occurring again today. That as a society we are taking steps back.
Once the reader arrives on the opening page of Segregation Now, they are prompted to scroll down by the arrows reading “Begin.” Photos with captions are displayed that tell the story with short narratives. The reader must scroll slowly in order for the words to pop up and then transition to the next point. Without slowly scrolling, the words are never shown. The reader is lead to a writeup of about 1,000 words that display some graphs, once finished the next chapter begins.
The visual storytelling experience of ProPublica: Segregation Now isn’t incredibly interactive until the reader reaches the “More” tab with the links to Six Words, Timeline, and Map that were found throughout the story in various chapters. The reader can run their mouse over Six Words and the card will flip over to show the phrases from students on how they feel about the plight of racism and segregation. The timeline shows the events regarding segregation that followed Brown v. Board. The reader can click the arrow to go to the next chronological event or run their mouse along the timeline in any order they choose. The map that Segregation Now provides a layout of the “resegregating” schools in the United States today. Type in a county and the map will populate which schools are deemed segregated.
The interactivity of the multimedia story, is less cluttered than Pine Point, but less interactive. Segregation Now, however, is less wordy than Snowfall and more interactive. I felt that Segregation Now was easy to navigate, and told a clear story without much clutter and keeps the entertained. If the reader prefers strictly text, the story is also available in full text. I believe that the music that SnowFall and Pine Point incorporate in their interactive storytelling bring a certain eeriness to the piece — but Segregation Now lets the silence speak for itself and brings a seriousness to the piece. Although I might’ve liked to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech when you first open the document. It may be a little trite, but I believe it would drive the point home.
At the end of the text, there is an opportunity for the reader to enter a “Six Word” phrase on race and education. There is also an option to leave comments and start a dialogue with other readers. Not only do these options allow the reader to be interactive with the story and leave their mark, it also opens them to dialoging with other readers about the topic at hand. I believe that this section allows the reader to see how race and education have an impact on the school children and how they are viewing the issue.
The mapping and formatting was the strongest and easiest to navigate of this semester. Although it wasn’t the most intricate display of interactivity for the reader, the mapping was seamless when moving from page to page and forced the reader to slow down in order to read the tagline along with the beginning pictures and then came to the text format to cover the chapter’s story. The photos changed from black and white to color as you scroll down and then vice versa toward the end of the storytelling experience to reiterate how the schooling is moving back to segregation.
To add to to the overall appeal, timelines of events are on the side of the pages, giving the reader a short and to the point visual of what was being talked about in the chunked text. These visuals allow the reader a chronologic list of events, that if they wish they can just skim through on their way to the next chapter. Every time I read this piece I found new pieces that I may have missed before.
In the tab “Saving Central” a video was available for viewing to add a different experience for the reader. Once redirected to a separate page, the video covers, “One Principal’s fight in a resegregating South.” This is the only video that is embedded in the story, which I think fits because it allows the reader to see the strides that are happening today in schools and the video acts as a supplement to the story being told rather than the center.
I was upset that I was unable to view the mapping on my phone, I was only able to see the full the version. This only allows the reader to get the full multimedia experience from a laptop or desktop computer. Many people get their news from their phones, while they’re on the go, so this may take away from the viewership. Although, I don’t think you can truly get the entire experience and be impacted by this story without taking time to sit down, scroll through the chapters and interact with the timeline and maps.
In conclusion, this was a very strong and clear story that was being told using multimedia interactive techniques. Although there could have been more interactivity for the reader, I think that the story was told beautifully with an ample amount of photos and various other mediums to keep the readers attention and make learning about the evolution of segregation/resegregation in the U.S. schooling system.
Pine Point by Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simons
Segregation Now by Steve Engelberg and Robin Fields
Snow Fall by John Branch
Writing for the Web by Joe Marren
Visual Storytelling by Newscred and gettyimages