Multimedia draws reader into NECIR investigation story

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This week, I took a look at some of the investigations in the Metro section of The Boston Globe. I was particularly drawn to a story by Beth Daley from the New England Center for Investigative Reporting about prenatal tests because of the photo that went along with the story, as well as some accompanying charts. I wanted to see how multimedia elements were added to this story.

At the top of the story online is a video about a family who was impacted by the prenatal tests described. These tests, screenings actually, have become more commonly recommended for pregnant women and look for probability of certain chromosomal disorders. The problem with the tests is that they aren’t always accurate and don’t diagnose these disorders, but many women have terminated their pregnancies because of their results.

The video shows the Chapman family with their healthy baby boy, Lincoln. The family tells their story of inaccurate results and the reader is able to connect with them. I watched the video before reading the story and I think this enabled me to be drawn into the story more. The video shows the human faces behind the research and data later presented  and makes the numbers real for me. I think this can be especially important when dealing with a story with data or technical information, because readers can get lost in those aspects of a story. Showing the people impacted is always a good way to really illustrate what is going on.

This same strategy is used in the textual story itself by starting with an anecdote about Stacie Chapman. So even if someone didn’t watch the video before reading, they would be able to connect with the Chapman’s story in the same way and want to understand why it happened.

Daley does a good job of explaining the depth of the problem and including other women who have been impacted by these screenings. There are also quotes from experts, which help to explain the issue further. A link is included on the side to a timeline which explains the steps in Screen shot 2015-01-31 at 2.55.07 PMprenatal screenings. This is another good use of multimedia to break down a long article with lots of information into a visual.

I liked that Daley made the Chapman’s the main example for her article and wove them throughout. She also ends with the Chapman’s to bring the narrative full circle.


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