The three pieces in this entry showcase a range of work from The Globe and Mail’s small digital storytelling team, which sought out novel storylines for our Olympics coverage and experimented with new formats and approaches to visual journalism.
“Canada’s deep dive into the data pool” is an in-depth exploration of how the Canadian swimming team has used data analysis to turn a middling team into one that now sets records for medals, and produced the most-decorated Canadian Olympian of all time in Penny Oleksiak.
Since the 2016 Rio Olympics, Swimming Canada has kept that practice a closely guarded secret, protecting it from reporters and the competition as intellectual property. Through persistent effort and steady, long-term source building, The Globe gained access to this hidden story – embedding at the team’s practice facility months prior to the Tokyo Olympics.
To gather the necessary visuals, The Globe deployed four cameras, including one fastened to the rafters of Toronto’s Pan-Am Centre and another beneath the surface of the water. All told, the journalists drew on more than five hours of video, nearly a dozen interviews, and gained access to databases of information on some of Canada’s top athletes. The story, which included an accompanying podcast explaining the data concepts involved, drew praise from readers around the world. The Globe’s work was also cited by international media as a prescient look inside what ultimately became the team’s second-consecutive six-medal performance at the Olympics.
What emerged is a truly unique work, combining interactive visuals and narrative storytelling to give the reader an understanding of what has fuelled the program’s emergence, offering a glimpse into the kinds of data being scrutinized by coaches and analysts behind the scenes.
“Route runners” is another in-depth explanatory piece that explores the world of speed climbing, which debuted at the Summer Games in Tokyo. It weaves 3D models with video commentary from Canadian athletes in order to bring the reader into the world of a new sport.
The style was more practical than design-motivated, but the results offered deep understanding of a sport that otherwise happens in a flash. In one memorable video clip, The Globe asked one of our Olympic competitors to run the route from memory for our cameras.
“I’m still standing” is a visual romp through the world of ice dance, combining video, animation and annotated graphics to explore the intricate planning that goes into a skating routine.
It was the highly structured dance pattern that drew us to the event as a storytelling experiment; then, in-depth conversations with coaches and athletes revealed just how intricate and temperamental a rhythm dance performance can be. Using various animation and editing techniques, we imbued competition footage with commentary and explanatory graphics that gradually reveal the complexities of the sport. The piece slowly builds through the final sequence, exploring the personal and psychological factors at play.