2014 Excellence in Visual Digital Storytelling, Medium Newsroom finalist

Proof: For many rape victims in Maine, justice comes only from being believed


Erin Rhoda, Brian Feulner, William P. Davis, Pattie Reaves, Natalie Feulner, Eric Zelz

BDN Maine

Excellence in Visual Digital Storytelling, Medium Newsroom


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About the Project

Proof was built to coincide with the launch of Maine Focus, the BDN’s initiative to talk about the biggest problems facing Maine in a new way, with an eye toward solutions. One of the Maine Focus verticals is to examine the perennial problem of domestic and sexual violence in Maine. The BDN wanted a way to introduce the problem to the audience in a way that would have real impact on the reader — forcing them to really think about the problem rather than thinking “Gee, isn’t that too bad.”

The idea for Proof came late in the game, and rather than push back the launch of Maine Focus we decided to produce Proof on a truncated timetable, going from conception to launch in just three weeks. (By comparison, many first-time projects launched in the post-Snowfall era took and continue to take months to gestate.)

Because of the short timetable, the team had to collaborate as the newsroom rarely had before. The videos and text were produced with an eye on what the component would bring to the overall project, rather than writing a story and producing videos and trying to join them together. To avoid compromising the digital product, the project was produced exclusively for the website; there was no print component.

The project was received more than 165,000 unique pageviews and was widely lauded by domestic and sexual violence advocates both inside Maine and nationally. The project received a 2014 Visionary Voice Award from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and one of the project’s writers was invited to speak at the International Conference on Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Trafficking.

The project also received national interest in the journalism community, as the BDN was one of the earliest non-national news organizations to experiment with a major multimedia presentation.