Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Two Multi-Media Projects

For journalism class I've just taken a look at two multi-media pieces online.  The first features David Rohde, talking about his kidnapping by the Taliban.  That's posted at the New York Times website.  The second was put together by Martin Ricard, and discusses an agricultural/social reform effort in Sierra Leone.  That's posted here.

They're both quality projects, but the shallow spectator in me was most fascinated by the NYT piece.  It's a series of videos that feature Rohde relating his impressions of Afghanistan, his kidnapping by the Taliban, and eventually his escape.  I had expected the escape to play center stage, but it turns out his observations of the warn torn country were the most interesting.  Rohde relates how surprisingly well treated he was, the psychosis of his captors, and just how unpopular the US led occupation has become with the natives.  Perhaps most surprising is how Rhode describes a burgeoning mini-state in Pakistan's tribal area, bundled with a multi-generational insurgent culture.

The video relates the awkward reality of the insurgent's life and their internal dialog.  He talks about their appreciation of American war movies and a decade old first person shooter by Novalogic, and contrasts those appreciations with their enjoyment of jihad propaganda videos.

The escape account was pretty sweet, but it didn't take center stage.  All in all the NYT's piece obviously has enormous journalistic value, and presented the information clearly and succinctly.

The project refers to a Frontline documentary called The Return of the Taliban, which you can watch online here.  I haven't seen it, but I'll have to check it out tonight.

Martin Ricard's project on Sierra Leone is also valuable.  He uses a slide show/index format to direct his audiences attention from one subset to another of his project's focus.

While the NYT's piece focuses on the problems of a society, the Ricard project deals with an ongoing, largely grass roots effort to help the people of Sierra Leone.  The problem is, Ricard's presentation of his work in a Flash interface seems unnecessary to me.  It would probably be easier to work through if the information, which is mostly text, was presented with embedded video's on a static web page.  Without the sound effects.

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