Magazine article Editor & Publisher

How to Get an 'Edge' Online

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

How to Get an 'Edge' Online

Article excerpt

How do you tell the story of Virginia's famous Heritage Music Trail without sound? If you're a newspaper that has embraced multimedia storytelling as completely as The Roanoke Times has, you don't have to.

Clicking your way through its "Going Down the Crooked Road" Web presentation, you'll come upon demonstrations of how different instruments sound with explanations of their roles in a band. Or you can fiddle with volume controls for individual instruments while a song plays. You can also scroll through photo galleries of legendary bluegrass players or listen to songs by local musicians.

"Crooked Road" was one of three presentations on Roanoke.com that garnered 2006 Digital Edge awards for multimedia storytelling from the Newspaper Association of America in the 50,001 to 99,999 circulation category (the Times' weekday circ is 93,471). All three winning entries elaborated on big print stories, drawing readers to the Web site with exclusive content and offering interactive gems.

The other winners of multimedia "Edgies" reiterate the importance of these multimedia forms, and are quick to explain the tricks to achieving them.

"On big projects, we've set the expectation that it will combine print and online components in creative and compelling ways," explains Times Editor Mike Riley. "It's a large and talented cast ... the idea is to get the right hands and talents involved from the start."

Those "hands" on "Crooked Road" included features writer Ralph Berrier Jr., who grew up with "mountain music" and who wrote the series' six stories about towns along the trail. Also instrumental was Seth Gitner, a still photographer for the Times who taught himself to use video equipment and Web software and was appointed multimedia editor more than a year ago. The team was rounded out with photographer and mountain music initiate Kyle Green, who contributed more than 40 photos for the project.

In march, the series also won the Roanoke Times a National Journalism Award from Scripps, which netted the newspaper $10,000 and a trophy.

"I think everyone is becoming more aware of the power and potential of multimedia, which is something we want to integrate into our everyday operation and not only in large projects," Riley says. "We moved our online team into the newsroom more than a year ago, and what a difference it has made."

Convergence is also top priority at The Providence (R.I.) Journal, where weekly meetings bring together newsroom and online staff to discuss upcoming multimedia projects. …

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