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2020 Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling, Large Newsroom finalist

The Mueller Report Illustrated

About the Project

When it was released last April, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report laid out in exhaustive detail the result of his nearly two-year investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign and President Trump’s efforts to block the probe. Deep inside the 448-page report was a fly-on-the-wall account of life in the White House, told through the eyes of the men and women who served the president and shared their memories with investigators under penalty of perjury.

To bring to life this extraordinary historical record, The Washington Post embraced a novel storytelling approach, harnessing illustrations, audio and animation to produce a groundbreaking graphic nonfiction series. By using images and sound, we took readers inside the special counsel’s findings, contextualizing and helping clarify them with Post reporting and analysis.

After distilling Mueller’s obstruction investigation into a single narrative, we worked with artist Jan Feindt to produce roughly 300 illustrations that captured the episodes depicted in the report, drawing from contemporaneous news photographs as a guide. We incorporated audio clips from public events to help immerse readers inside the storyline. Animation throughout the series highlighted the tension as an angry president railed at the investigation bearing down on him. A companion podcast featuring Post reporters provided essential analysis about the legal and political implications of each episode.

We sought to give readers a deep understanding of how the series was grounded in the investigative findings. All dialogue in text bubbles was taken from Mueller’s report, which cited text messages, notes and investigative interviews with first-hand witnesses who described conversations among key players. Hyperlinks throughout the series allows readers to look at the exact page in the report from which the quotes were drawn.

The resulting project was factually rigorous and had dramatic punch, propelling readers through a series of high-stakes stand-offs inside the White House. “The Mueller Report Illustrated: The Obstruction Investigation” provided readers with a compelling way to absorb the findings of this singular investigation — and showcases how we are experimenting with new approaches to reach a broad audience.