Shafia family

Maclean’s has just completed a multimedia e-book that details its coverage of the Shafia family murder trial. The e-book on the “honour killing” case is 171 pages and includes in-depth interviews, audio clips, video, and document evidence from the trial. It was written by Maclean’s senior writer Michael Friscolanti, who spent three months living in Kingston, Ontario, to cover the proceedings.

The e-book is a whole new way for media outlets to package stories in a form that might encourage higher readership while still turning a profit. (Maclean’s is charging 99 cents for the iPad app, or $1.99 for the downloadable PDF document.) Although it’s nothing new for a journalist to write a book about a high-profile case, it’s impressive that Friscolanti’s report is available so soon, barely two weeks after the verdict.

This e-book is an innovative way of publishing content, in that it allows readers to see and listen to evidence presented in court—something a traditional news article can’t do. In the case of a trial that goes on for an extended period of time, the form is an efficient way of putting all the important details in one place. Things that didn’t get highlighted in articles and broadcasts, such as documents and photos, can also be shown.

In December 2011, the National Post also began releasing e-books. Its first contribution was The Long Road: National Post in Afghanistan, which features analysis and illustrations to connect stories of soldiers in the war-torn country. Like the Maclean’s e-book, it takes readers beyond the headlines and offers a deeper understanding of the issues at hand.

At a time when some are claiming that print is a dying industry and that reading newspapers is boring, e-books such as these could make the news interesting again—especially for younger readers, whose attention spans are said to be dramatically shorter than those of previous generations.

Lead image via Maclean’s


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About the author

Alexandra Theodorakidis was the Departments Editor of the Summer 2012 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.

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