About the Project

“…all the boundaries of print just feel so incredibly old-fashioned now—the need to do things in a certain shape, in a certain mix, by a certain time of the day in the week.” — Tina Brown, November 2012

Perhaps it goes without saying that the way news reporting is presented and the ways in which readers consume it has changed drastically in recent years. As newsrooms went digital, their initial efforts mirrored traditional print formats. But something began changing around 2008. I noticed it on Election Day when the New York Times ran an interactive feature called Word Train. It was interactive, engaging, simple, and smart. It was different.

I subsequently included it in my graduate thesis at Carnegie Mellon, arguing that the word train represented a shift in the product of media companies, moving from a focus on disseminating information to being a place of collaborative contribution. In the design world, it represented a shift from static communication to interactive experience. Interactive pieces can not only present new forms of engagement but heighten comprehension and bring about a different level of intimacy with the content. At the same time as the word train, the shape of online front pages began to change, pushing video, interactive maps, charts, and diagrams to the top-of-the-fold.
“We are entering a golden age of journalism,” said the late David Carr while speaking with Terri Gross in 2011. He was talking about how his capabilities as a journalist have been heightened through new technology, but the same could be said for how journalists communicate to their audience. Part of this golden age is marked by experimentation in how stories are designed and delivered. Designers, media professionals, and readers light up twitter when a news outlet publishes something innovative, or produces a long-form piece that simply could never have been so nice in print.

The problem is that formats change and links break, and stories themselves become buried in news archives as they age. We seek to address these issues by keeping a record of this moment in media history. We hope you find this to be a valuable resource and we welcome your feedback and submissions.

Thank you for your interest.
— Alex
 

Criteria

The Interactive News aims to catalog interesting examples of digital journalism and serve as a resource for journalists, designers, and educators. By creating this archive, we aim to keep these great pieces at the surface and be a place to discuss their merits. We have some criteria for inclusion on this site, though exceptions are made:

1. The multimedia aspect of the story should enhance the narrative beyond what the text alone could provide.
2. Reader comprehension should be enhanced through interactivity, data visualizations, charts, maps, diagrams, or other visual forms.
3. While many examples in the archive come from mainstream media outlets, we would also like to profile great work from smaller outlets and from around the world.
4. The overall design, writing, and formatting should strike a balance between informative, engaging, and beautiful.

About the Editor

Alexander R. Wilcox Cheek is an Assistant Professor of Design and Information Systems at Carnegie Mellon University. His work centers on the design of information, products, and services through human-centered research methods. He also teaches design theory in the context of environments and human experience.

Alex developed The Interactive News while based in Qatar, extending the work he did as a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon. Other grant-funded research of his has been supported by Google, The National Science Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Heinz Endowments, and Innovation Works. Alex has co-founded and leads design for a number of companies and projects including Macromicro, Skale, Classroom Salon, and IxDA Doha.

About the Site Developer

Ahmed R. Hashmi received his degree in Information Systems from Carnegie Mellon University and works professionally as a UX Designer.

Advisors

Andrew Mills, Northwestern University
Dan Boyarski, Carnegie Mellon, School of Design
Kelly Murdoch-Kitt, Rochester Institute of Technology
Susan Hagan, Carnegie Mellon, Department of English

Grant Funding

Funding for The Interactive News was provided by Carnegie Mellon University and Qatar Foundation.