2018 Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling, Medium / Large Newsroom finalist

The Wall Street Journal’s Innovation in Audio Storytelling


About the Project

Spotify’s initial public offering defied convention, and The Wall Street Journal’s coverage of it followed suit.

One of the biggest hits within our coverage lineup was “The Spotify IPO Playlist” — our way of telling the story of Spotify’s huge IPO through the company’s central medium: music.

As users opened the graphic, a sample of Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” hit their ears, along with text, a chart and lyrics that inform readers about the IPO. As readers scrolled or swiped, the songs and visuals changed automatically and intuitively.

The playlist was touted as an innovative piece of storytelling by readers around the world. A Twitter user in India called it “crazy storytelling!” One in Kentucky said it was a “clever way to report the story.”

In “How to Make a Phone Call in 2017,” WSJ columnist Joanna Stern wanted to provide a sense of phone call quality across technologies. She worked with Graphics Editors Jieqian Zhang and Stephanie Stamm to tell that story, using a zingy design that matches Joanna’s voice and a series of simulated phone calls.

Bright colors, emojis and animations set the tone for the design, and the graphics staff overcame the challenges of working with multiple technologies: animation, audio, vertical video and horizontal video. While the project was created for a mobile-first audience, we ensured that our desktop audience would not miss out on the story in any way.

On a much more somber note, The Wall Street Journal editors merged visual and audio for “How Las Vegas Police Scrambled to Find the Gunman,” a powerful recreation of the frantic moments as Las Vegas police tried to track down the perpetrator of the Oct.1 shooting.

When Wall Street Journal photo editor Parker Eshelman came across digital recordings of Las Vegas police radio, his fellow editors huddled around the desk in silence listening to the confusion and hysteria as the tragedy unfolded.

Visual editor Taylor Umlauf moved quickly on an idea to combine the audio with visual journalism. A team of visual journalists transcribed and curated the 90 minutes of audio. They then coded the framework to allow the reader’s scrolling to control the audio playback, while graphics editors created visuals that helped readers picture the events, through maps and 3D diagrams.

Multimedia editor Youjin Shin took all of the elements and helped weave the pieces together, culminating in a unique and powerful story that captured the cruel chaos of the shooting in a gripping, mobile-first, multimedia experience.

The piece resonated with readers, who shared it widely with their followers. “Compelling as it is chilling,” wrote former New York Times business editor Tim Race. Toronto Star Washington correspondent Daniel Dale highlighted the “gripping audio” in the graphic, describing it as “great web work here by WSJ.”

These three multimedia stories show how audio can drive a rich digital experience, blending images, videos and design. I’m proud to nominate them for the Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling.