Reports, pictures, videos are merging to one multimedia story. STORY SCROLLING is the name – and the hope: Will this highly creative form the present research save science journalism? What is the experience, what does it look like, how does it work? Welcome to 2nd part of “Ten Golden Rules for Survival”.*

Avalanche (c) Scientif38 @ Wikimedia Commons
Avalanche (c) Scientif38 @ Wikimedia Commons

Snowfall1 has been around for two years. It’s the New York Times’ attempt to reinvent journalism. With a topic which we all skip in the news. Avalanches. They are so common in winter, who’d give a cent?  But this story electrifies. The combination is its clue: the write-up, video clips and animations, interviews and slide shows in one story.

When Snowfall received a Pulitzer Prize last year, everyone shouted: We must produce more multimedia stories. “Let’s snowfall this!” The outcome is yet not very convincing. Publishers and journalists can’t get good old Gutenberg out of their heads. After 500 years, print seems to make up our DNA.

   Old Stuff: Online still copies print …  

Gutenberg Bible (c) Raul654, US Library of Congress @ Wikimedia Commons
Gutenberg Bible (c) Raul654, US Library of Congress @ Wikimedia Commons

But, enthusiasm shows: It’s the blend where it is. NOT the long written story many science writers are inclined to produce, but a series of short picturesque scenes, following a Hollywood-like dramaturgy, enriched with all the beautiful photographs which never fit into a journal, mixed with snappy videos and interviews which we know from youtube, always right to the point with key content and no blah, and not to forget the explanatory graphs and animations.

fb1411_cover“Journalist”, the German media magazine2, dedicates its November edition to multimedia storytelling. It’s tour d’horizon through this new craft comes to the conclusion that the lack of technical tools is one of the reasons for the delay. Most of the internet presences of worldwide media are based on the Content Management System CMS. It has been around for 20 years and principally was a copy of print.

New Horizons: Story Scrolling the Iron Curtain, its fall and legacy

Only now, according to “Journalist”, the media biggies of the world have recognized their shortcomings. Vigorously they develop new technical systems for websites which enable a perfect blending of the different media and are also suitable for display on laptops, tablets, smart phones and all other formats (“responsive”). The journal quotes an expert with “Content is king, but technology is the queen and we all know from chess, which one counts more.”

Iron Curtain (c) US Fed Govt @ Wikimedia Commons
Iron Curtain (c) US Fed Govt @ Wikimedia Commons

Furthermore the “Journalist” refers to leading brands such as NYT and Guardian, German ZEIT and Spiegel. The latter became, 20 years ago,  one of the online pioneers3 and is now experimenting with the new technical system which allows the new Story Scrolling4. Its refugee story reminds of Snowfall. There is another example, however, which seems to be more convincing. 25 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the German Broadcaster NDR published a multimedia story which integrates the elements more efficiently into one. “The scar”5 can be pronounced, by all means as one of the most advanced pieces of story scrolling

And finally: New multimedia platform on science and technology!

So how does this all apply to science journalism? Fact is that, as depicted by Jan Oliver Loefken in the 1st part of this series, science journalism has remained, by and large, old school6. Long-winded pieces, mostly for experts, more cheerleading than critical, not questioning the means and ends of research. Sad fact, too, is that scientists have become to some extent better communicators than science journalists. So there is plenty of leeway for sci journos to shape up in the persecution of conventional straights.

Innovators Dilbas & Dahm at 1st European Science Conference Copenhagen 2014 (c) EUSJA/Goede
Innovators Dilbas & Dahm at 1st European Science Conference Copenhagen 2014 (c) EUSJA/Goede

At the same time, the profession has to stay abreast with the innovative strife. For the good news, the experiment will enter the next round of try again and fail better7. On November 28, Denis Dilbas and Georg Dahm finally want to showcase their anxiously awaited launch: SUBSTANZ, sophisticated multimedia stories on science & research, technology & innovation.

Start of a truly new era? We’ll keep you posted!

* https://www.eusja.org/ten-golden-rules-for-survival



1. http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2012/snow-fall/#/?part=tunnel-creek

And a brandnew astronomy journal made especially for tablets, thanks Hajo Neubert for the recommendation >>>