These are the words of Bobbie Johnson, co-founder of long-form
journalism site, Matter. He’s referring to Wrappers Delight, a
multi-media piece about a Scottish confectionary company called Tunnock’s,
published online by the Telegraph earlier this year.
Johnson believes that with Wrappers Delight, the Telegraph have fallen into a freshly laid journalistic trap: that of creating a “whopping great story online that’s stuffed full of integrated multimedia elements – in the manner of the New York Times’ Snow Fall” - just because they can. They have he says, “Snowfallen”.
In a digitised world in which we’re Buzzfed bite-sized
chunks of information, telling long-form stories, which keep us engaged through
to the end, is a mighty challenge for publishing companies intent on keeping
that tradition alive. Snow Fall kick-started a trend. But actually it's one that began way before.
Music site Pitchfork has been playing in the parallax scrolling sandpit for a while. It started with this Bat for Lashes cover story. They did it again with Daft Punk then this exquisitely designed piece on R&B popstrell Janelle Monae. And now we've got this - a frothy psych-pastel feature on what MGMT did next.
Some might argue that they're Snow Falling all over the show but I disagree. We're tactile and sensory by nature. I believe that people want to engage with content visually as well as with the words themselves. Of course there's a fine line between creating an immersive storytelling experience just because it looks pretty or because technology allows us to and creating a more rewarding experience for the reader. Sometimes, leaving an element out could be the most important decision an editor makes.
But I'm liking the fun Pitchfork are having with their cover stories. It's all about big beautiful images and quirkily integrated code. Are they entirely necessary? In this case, I don't think they need to be.