Snow Fall – Pushing the boundaries of convergent journalism.


Source: The New York Times 2012

As part of a module of study, I was only asked to have a ‘look’ at this story. As I began to navigate through the page, I was pulled from the confines of my own home and onto the freshly powdered ski runs of Tunnel Creek. A good ninety minutes of intense reading followed.

I experienced the exhilaration, the terror and the devastation felt by the characters in the story. Branch used effective mechanisms of convergent media practices to take me to the mountain where I delved inside the minds of the avalanche survivors and followed their movements before, during and after the avalanche.

The project employs interactivity through the use of photographs, video, interactive maps and animations that complement the story, rather than repeat what is contained within the narrative.

Included is an animation that details how the avalanche unfolded in real time. The scientific dimension of the story adds depth to the highly emotive storyline.


Source: The New York Times 2012

The characters, their relationships, and their movements on the mountain are complex, and could be quite hard to follow had Branch not included recurring individual profiles throughout the story, which allow the reader to match the name of a character to their face. The animation behind the text box works to show the movements of a skier on the mountain as the reader scrolls over the relating piece of text, which is a highly effective coupling technique.

An individual photo slideshow is included during the introduction of each person, and by clicking on the person’s name, the reader can access a more in depth profile of the person. Whilst the reader is largely directed through the story, they are able to choose the amount of background information that they wish to access to complement their experience.

Like the photographs and animations, the audio and video are effective in that they are used as a mechanism for deeper understanding and meaning, rather than to repeat what is written. The reader has access to some of the footage obtained by the skiers, one of which allows the reader to ‘be there’ when the survivors discover one of their deceased friends buried in the snow.

Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek‘ was published by The New York Times in 2012.


About stephaniebentley

Current student at University of Wollongong studying Bachelor of Journalism/Bachelor of Science.
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