It’s the end of the year and that usually means two things, left overs and best of lists. This year saw a lot of newsworthy events from the Arab Spring to OWS, Obama got Osama to Rick Perry trying to remember three things, it was a year packed with news events and continued debate about what journalism’s of the future will look like (that’s a circle jerk that will never end btw).

This isn’t a post about all those events, this is about the thing that never changes year to year – story. More precisely multimedia stories over the year that I watched again and again trying to take apart, ran over to my journal to brainstorm or immediately shared with my closest cohorts.

Here’s what inspired me in 2011.

Capitalism meets Communism

Dai Sugano revisiting the audio side he first explored in 2005 and showing everyone how to combine original reporting with style and impact. I’m biased – he’s a pal- but there’s no denying the talent. Just watch it and thank me in the comments below.


Take this Lollipop

It’s the multimedia interactive equivalent of The Ring which took the social web by storm and genuinely scared some people. Not because it placed them in their own horror movie, but because of it’s unavoidable question: in the social age is privacy dead?
People are still wondering what this is trying to sell us- it’s nothing as its creator says it was just a fun thing to work on- but seeing how quickly disconnected viewers engaged and shared is the real lesson. Connecting your audience to the story matters. Why should they care still is the key.
Also Is it just me for does the man look a little like Liam Neeson?

Half-Lives: The Chernobyl Workers Now

This was one of those refreshingly heartfelt old school stories that reminds us you don’t have to be flashy to make you stop and feel something. The Chernobyl disaster is over two decades removed but its effects are still felt by the residents from then and now, clearly the story isn’t over just because the cable outlets stopped talking about. What’s happening in your neighborhood that everyone forgot about? Whenever I joined a new newsroom I would scrub the archives from the last year to see if anything piked my interest for an update, it you get the story tingle, chase it!

Sprawl 2 – Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire took a break from re-release The Suburbs for the nth time to revisit interactive video glory they first explored in last year’s HTML5 Google Maps mash up video for “We Used to Wait.” Mountain’s Beyond Mountains is the slightly less cool but still effective you-be-the-director style romp through synchronized dancing.

A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan

An instant classic which goes back to one of the tenets of PJ- exploration of the “other”- and challenges what you think you know. I’m glad to see this work so well at painting a realistic picture. It’s sorely needed, I mean, I’m shocked every time someone, including some of my closest friends, makes a blanket statement about “arabs” and “muslims.” It’s long, but none of it is superfluous.

Coal: A Love Story

Powering the nation is at the heart of many a debate by unlike Congress, News 21 decided to take a serious look at it. Coal looks at it from the macro of the global impact to the micro of individuals effected. And it’s varied in perspectives and reporting to warrant the large undertaking to produce and the expectations of your time.

The true cost of gas

Produced for a story for California Watch, this is just a piece of a bigger story, but it does a good job of explaining a complex topic while keeping it entertaining and dare I say whimsical. I’m a sucker for animation and this was one of the best journalistic motion projects I saw in 2011.

An American Cleric

A neat storybook presentation for a complex topic. Integrated pics, video, multimedia in a slick five chapter package. It just works so well. Also, yay for white space!

What is Graypants?

I ran into these guys in Seattle during a film shoot, coincidently I was shooting a piece on this same business. They were intruiged by my cross country road trip and background in journalism, I was intruiged by their background in web design and filmmaking. The funny thing was, we both had taken different paths to the same destination, it’s all about story.


Not every project has to be a blow the roof off production, sometimes it’s the small personal ones that stay with you. Watch this one in full screen and just let the images and audio transport you. Try as you might, you’ll soon find yourself relating to the narrator and thinking of your own project for 2012.

Everything is a Remix

If you think everything has been done before, you’re right. But let me share with you something I learned a long time ago; everything’s been done before, but it hasn’t been done by you. Put your stamp on it and tell the story from you eyes. If everyone had looked at Robert Frank’s The Americans and said someone’s already taken pictures of our community, why do that, well it would be a sad place today. Not to mention no more pictures of farmers from OU or WKU grads. 😉
This piece reminds me to look back when I’m having trouble going forward. Inspiration is everywhere and whatever blocks you’re facing today, someone else felt it already before you. Be sure to check out the earlier installments if you like this one.


I wanted to close this up with something special.
One of the greatest film moments ever captured to film (see this movie and Modern Times), re-edited with modern clips. So as humans we’ve always wanted the same thing, why don’t we still have it? What are you doing today to get there?