Knight Center
Knight Center


New York Times’ Jill Abramson @ ISOJ: "To Snow Fall" now means to tell a great multimedia story

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Texas Tribune's Evan Smith (L) and New York Times' Jill Abramson/For the Knight Center

People no longer read The New York Times online. They watch it.

On her keynote speech during the last day of the 14th International Symposium on Online Journalism, the executive director of the New York Times Jill Abramson said digital tools now allow the creation of more exciting stories that integrate multimedia elements in more organic ways.

The perfect example is The New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning story Snow Fall, a multimedia package on a deadly avalanche on Washington State that integrated text, photos, videos and bios. The celebrated package emphasized scrolling over clicking and video clips complement rather than repeat the story.

“Snow Fall has actually become a verb,” Abramson said. “’To snowfall’ means to tell a story with fantastic graphics and video and every kind of multimedia, and that is absolutely organic to the storytelling itself.”

The New York Times won three other Pulitzers this year, which had two elements in common: they were international and they were multimedia-heavy.

Abramson also spoke about the challenges of balancing the need to breaking the news first and confirming information before publication. The day the identity of the Boston bombing suspects was confirmed, Abramson went to The New York Times’ office at 1 a.m. and left at 7 p.m.

The reason: help ensure that the publication did not join the large media outlets – like CNN and the Associated Press – that reported inaccurate information during their coverage.  Abramson had her hands on directly on the decision to finally send a news alert with the information.

“I’m very cautious,” she said. “When (people) go to Times, they’re looking for what exactly did happen. You don’t want to be slow on a story, but (readers) are looking for authoritative truth.”


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