Ever since the New York Times launched its interactive web project, Snow Fall (a 5 part story of skiers and snowboarders trapped by an avalanche in Washington State’s Cascade mountain range), hypotheses of its effects on journalism and publishing have been ping-ponging between online news outlets. The debates over whether or not Snow Fall’s storytelling model (that recently hit 3.5 million page views) is the future of journalism, in fact deliver something more: lessons in content integration and the opportunity for brand-publisher collaboration.
If you haven’t read the feature yet, do. It’s something like magic — a visceral adventure story about a deadly avalanche that feels more like an interactive documentary that happens to have paragraphs than a newspaper story that happens to have interactives. Particularly ingenious is a section where a map traces doomed skiers’ paths down the mountain face as you scroll down the corresponding paragraphs. Further along, an animated video follows the contours of the avalanche sweeping down the same glade, with a clicking sound whose frequency indicates the changing speed of the barreling snow pack. Not just clever. Utterly ingenious.