taxonomy of digital story packages

Non-Linear Multimedia Narratives

This approach to storytelling emphasizes the non-linear, interactive nature of the online experience - on the Internet people value having choices.

So instead of a single linear narrative that leads someone through a story, the story is broken up into topical segments. Thus a story package may include profiles, background information, history, financial implications, etc., as well as a main narrative. The user gets to choose how to navigate the story by selecting the segments of most interest. 

Each segment still has its own narrative structure. And in most cases each section is told in the type of media most appropriate for the content in that segment (for example, video for a segment of a story in which there's a lot of action).

Here are some examples:

Touching Hearts

Touching Hearts

Touching Hearts was a story package published by the Durham Herald Sun in 2001 about a medical team from Duke University that went to Nicaragua to perform surgeries on children. The winner of a 2001 Online News Association award, it was produced in Flash by Joe Weiss, a photographer who later created the SoundSlides application to make the production of photo/audio slide shows much easier.

The project has three parts:

  • The Mission - background on the surgeons' mission to Nicaragua told mostly in text and graphics
  • Stories - photo slideshows with audio that tell the emotional stories of the doctors efforts to treat the children
  • People - quick profiles of the medical team and the children done in text, with thumbnail photos of the children
Iraq Votes

Iraq Election

Iraq Votes: A Look Inside The Iraq Election was an online news package done by the Associated Press in March 2010. The story, produced in Flash, was divided into six sections, with each section presented in the type of media most appropriate for the content of that section:

  • Overview - a video introduction to the election and the Iraqi voters
  • Timeline - interactive timeline of the events leading up to the election
  • The Election - graphic with text explaining the process for voting
  • The Politics - text with thumbnail photos of the main parties and candidates
  • Vote Voices - video interviews with voters
  • Results - a graphic showing the results of the election
Black Saturday

Black Saturday

Black Saturday produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is about a horrific wild fire in the state of Victoria in 2009 that killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes. The story is told in video interviews with survivors and the storyline can be followed by topic, by the people being interviewed, on a timeline, or on a map.

Crisis Guide: Iran

Crisis Guide - Iran

Crisis Guide: Iran was published in October 2011 by the Council on Foreign Relations. The multimedia project examined Iran's history, the internal politics of the ruling Islamic regime, its role in the Middle East, its nuclear program and the different  approaches the international community has taken to dealing with Iran. Each section is told in differnt types of media, including videos, photo slideshows with audio, graphics and interactive timelines. The project was produced by Brian Storm's MediaStorm multimedia company and won an Emmy award in 2012.

Sources and Resources for Crisis Guide: Iran

  • Crisis Guide: Iran - MediaStorm, 10/4/2011. A description by MediaStorm of how it created this multimedia project for the Council on Foreign Relations.