Good read: NY Times Magazine’s ‘A Game of Shark and Minnow’

The New York Times has set the bar for digital storytelling with their brilliant, award-winning Snow Fall piece. (At OPB we certainly took some inspiration from their work for our excellent THIN ICE multi-platform project.)

Screen shot: A Game of Shark and Minnow'

Now they’ve gone and ‘snow-falled’ a fascinating political drama taking place in a remote area of the South China Sea. Here’s how the story opens:

Ayungin Shoal lies 105 nautical miles from the Philippines. There’s little to commend the spot, apart from its plentiful fish and safe harbor — except that Ayungin sits at the southwestern edge of an area called Reed Bank, which is rumored to contain vast reserves of oil and natural gas. And also that it is home to a World War II-era ship called the Sierra Madre, which the Philippine government ran aground on the reef in 1999 and has since maintained as a kind of post-apocalyptic military garrison, the small detachment of Filipino troops stationed there struggling to survive extreme mental and physical desolation. Of all places, the scorched shell of the Sierra Madre has become an unlikely battleground in a geopolitical struggle that will shape the future of the South China Sea and, to some extent, the rest of the world.

The story of isolated Filipino crewmen on a dilapidated military vessel weaves in and out of the wider context of a geopolitical dance. It’s a visually rich longread – including photos, video, maps – worth taking the 20 or so minutes to dive into.

And if you haven’t checked out those other two I mentioned above, do it. Consider all this screen time a respectable media binge.

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Coal coming through the Northwest + multimedia storytelling

The environmental news team I work with, EarthFix, won a bunch of awards for this year’s SPJ Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest. Yay us! We even took the top two spots for our special/enterprise online reporting on the proposed Northwest export projects and the anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

Though it wasn’t part of our 2012 Northwest coal coverage (we’ll submit the ongoing series again for 2013), our multimedia special Voice of Coal came directly out of the traditional news reporting the team had done. If you don’t live in the Pacific Northwest, let me tell you – these coal proposals are very controversial, pitting environmentalists against labor unions, public health officials and politicians against job creators, and folks on all ends of the spectrum. ‘Voices’ was our effort to bring real people’s voices and first-hand experience to the forefront, but always with the backdrop of well-reported journalism on the topic.

Though I don’t often have time to create content for EarthFix myself (I mostly do community engagement, events and social media), I had the opportunity to pitch in for this. Here are two audio slideshows I produced as part of the ‘Voices of Coal’ project:

It’s a pretty exciting time to be doing digital media and storytelling. We were very inspired by the Climate Wisconsin project for Voices of Coal. I’ve since seen some great interactive multimedia/transmedia projects (using video, audio, photos, text) including Black Gold Boom, about the big oil boom in North Dakota, and Reinvention Stories, looking at the identity crisis and ultimate efforts to reinvent the city of Dayton Ohio. Both those projects were part of some public media experiments called Localore. And of course there’s the epic, sublime experience of consuming Snow Fall: The Avalanche At Tunnel Creek. There you go. Now you’ve got several sittings worth of excellent transmedia storytelling to geek out on.

news roundup

It’s May 4, which means Day 4 of my NaBloPoMo month. Only 27 days to go…

Here are some random news and headlines that have caught my eye over the past few days:

When Coffee Wars Get Bitter: The Floyd’s Saga – There’s some shady stuff happening with one of my local coffee shops. Our PDX explains how Floyd’s, the cool drive-thru coffee shop, were forced out of their space. Photo courtesy of One True b!x on flickr.

R.I.P. Al Robles and Manong Al Has Left the Building– Longtime Filipino-American community activist and poet Al Robles passed away. He’s best known for his work around the closing of the I-Hotel in San Francisco, a former low-income residence for lots of Asian American elders that got torn down amidst lots of controversy and not-without a huge resistance from the community. He is featured in Curtis Choy‘s classic documentary Fall of the I Hotel as well as his latest film Manilatown is in the Heart, currently hitting the film festival circuit. Hyphen and Racewire report.


Brazilian theater director August Boal dies – Another sad loss for the community. Boal is the founder of Theater of the Oppressed, which he continued to teach until now. His work has been incredible in empowering communities to communicate and make powerful change. Photo courtesy of Teia 2007 on flickr.

If Pigs Could Fly: Traveling in the Time of Swine Flu – Interesting commentary from Sandip Roy at New American Media about America’s new-found role in the swine fly scare.

Highest Paid CEOs for 2008 – In case you’re not pissed off enough already. Based on AP research here’s an unfuriating list of some folks who’ve made off well, despite the rest of us struggling. And yes, 4 of the top 10 are from our friendly banks.