When The New York Times sought to give voice to the victims of President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug crackdown in the Philippines, we did not just interview residents. We offered visitors to our digital platforms a startling visual and audio landscape, documenting the policy’s impact with photos, sound clips, maps and more – all brought together into a single digital experience.
We then translated the piece into Tagalog, Spanish and Chinese. And we collected thousands of comments from readers in the Philippines, many of which we translated into English and offered to the world, elevating the voices of those who are most affected by Duterte’s policies.
For the last year, The Times has been creating vivid digital experiences that are helping redefine journalism. We are often telling stories in new forms that meld video, charts, data visualizations, maps, audio, photos, social media and text. These deeply immersive interactives made otherwise impenetrable data accessible, and took users on visual journeys that were never before possible.
When we covered the Olympics, we used text messages to give readers an unusually personal, behind-the scenes glimpse of how the spectacle was unfolding. “There’s a free food court in the athletes’ village in Rio, but it’s mostly empty,” our correspondent wrote. “The line at McDonald’s is about 50 deep.”
Our podcast, The Daily, debuted to a large, waiting audience, often garnering more than 500,000 downloads a day and shooting to the top of the podcast charts. We used the medium to provide listeners first-hand accounts of how James Comey, the ousted F.B.I. director, handled his interactions with President Trump.
On video, too, The Times did groundbreaking work. After a horrific chemical attack in Syria, the world saw images of children and adults, foaming at the mouth, struggling to breathe. A week later, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria went on television to deny that any attack had even taken place. Our video journalists used forensic mapping to verify the attacks – as well as the Syrian government’s role. Our work confirmed, conclusively, that a chemical attack had taken place, and provided a concrete example of what we mean when we talk of video strengthening storytelling while fulfilling our fundamental mission as journalists to bear witness.
But we did not deploy these tools just for long-term enterprise. After the terror attack in Nice, France, a team of digital designers and graphics editors worked on deadline in New York and Europe to document the horrific trail that the terrorist took as he drove through the city.
Their work showed in startling detail what mere text would have had trouble capturing: the awful impact that terrorism can have on a community in just a few minutes.
We believe that The Times has not only produced stunning digital storytelling in the last year, but also demonstrated that journalism’s old guard can create a culture of innovation that rivals that of any Silicon Valley startup.