2014 Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling, Large Newsroom finalist



About the Project

Borderland was an experiment. It’s a road trip, a photo essay, and a history lesson. We knew it had to be fast, but we wanted you to take it slow. It had to be epic, and it had to work on your phone.

When Kainaz left with Steve, we had a rough idea — we knew that we wanted to tell a story that’s not about politics or conflict, but about a place and the people living there. And as Kainaz filed photos, we found threads — beginnings of stories — and pushed her for more. This was not your usual here-I-have-some-photos-put-them-on-the-internet kind of project. It was edited in real-time, road-trip style.

(We had to build new tools to edit this piece as a group, on deadline, so we open-sourced the code and wrote about how they work)

The piece was very successful, but we found the greatest success buried in our analytics — teachers using Borderland in their classes.

The first guiding principle of this project was “every moment should make me think, WTF, I had no idea”. The second was “make it less interactive”. We could have build this quite differently, with interactive maps, and slideshows embedded in text, and with scrolly-fancy stuff, but that all seemed like too much. “What’s the *least* interactive way to tell the story?” we asked. And I think we got close.