Black Saturday: the Aussies get involved

With the majority of multimedia journalism projects emerging from the US and Europe, it’s great to see a slick piece come from Australia.

It arrives in the form of Black Saturday produced by broadcaster ABC, and tells the human stories of the huge bush fires which tore through Victoria in February this year. Here are some things which are awesome:

  • Multi-navigation: you can explore this site using a map mashup, a photo mosaic or a timeline
  • The animated mosaic connects to a stylish topographical map below
  • The stories are told in a variety of photos and video
  • When you click on a story it pops up in a floating window, and doesn’t take you away from the navigation screen


One thing I’m not so sure about though: the screen shot above is from one particular story about a brother and sister trying to find each other during the fires. It’s told using video interviews and reconstructed photographs.

As Patrick describes in his video interview how he got a text message and ran home from work, we see photographs of him recreating that action, running through a shopping mall. He describes being held up at a police cordon and we see a mocked up photograph of a hand of a police officer stopping him.

It must have been strange for Patrick to re-create those real life moments after the event.

Once you realise it’s fake, does it diminish from the quality of the story telling? Or is it an exciting new way of recreating past events?


Discussion (2 Comments)

  1. duckrabbit says:

    Interesting post Adam …

    Its true when we do an audio interview its very often about recreateing the past, but photography struggles to do the same thing.

  2. Lisa Hogben says:

    I do have to say I think ‘ol Aunty ABC has done a very fine job in creating a really great piece of multi-media to keep your attention on-line!

    I covered the fires and it was like the aftermath scene of a nuclear bomb, so it was nice to see someone trying to fit it all together in a fairly self explanatory fashion.

    I guess because of the documentary nature of the event occurring in the past that the “recreations” are valid to me, as they are the sort of stuff that used to get done routinely for magazines talking about post trauma events.

    Perhaps the only criticism that I have is that it still has a bit of a touch of the ‘school project’ look about it… Just the ABC much better equipment than a pair of scissors, some cut up magazines and a scrap book…

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