If it seems like just yesterday that we were arguing over whether The New York Times’s “Snow Fall” was the future of journalism, that’s because journalists are still arguing over Snow Fall.

The project has become shorthand for any long-form feature that incorporates video, audio and/or slideshows; if a newspaper publishes something like it, they are said to give a story “the Snowfall treatment.”

The latest Snow Fall-like stories are TheBoston Globe’s “The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev” and TheWall Street Journal’s “The Lobotomy Files.” TheGlobe’s feature has caused some grumbling on Twitter.

There’s a good Storify of reaction to Moore’s tweet A conversation on Twitter (Dec. 15, 2013) about use of the technique often called parallax scrolling, which got lots of journalism people excited a year ago when The New York Times published a story titled “Snow Fall.””>here. Frontline’s Sam Bailey wrote about the argument over at Medium, saying, “What’s missing from all of this for me is a sense of perspective: ‘Snow fall’ is a direct descendant of lush magazine/newspaper layouts. This is not a new idea by any means; it’s just taking advantage of new features available in this platform.”

As an aside, we would like to point out, for no reason but the picking of nits, that Snowfall was not the first Snow Fall. Patrick Hruby of ESPN gaveacid-tripping pitcher Dock Ellis the Snow Fall treatment earlier in 2012, and Kevin Nguyen of the Nieman Lab wrote a post about “breaking out of templates to build customized reading experiences” a month before Snow Fall went online.

Admittedly, since the Times’s project, there has been an absolute flurry of imitations; as you can see on this open Google Doc, there have been well over 100 published this year. So maybe it’s overkill—but, to Moore’s point about letting “the journalism speak for itself,” we have to wonder, is presentation not part of the journalism?

Remember to follow the Review and its masthead on Twitter. Email the blog editor here.

Remember to check out our latest story: Daniel Sellers on the CBC’s silence on Bill C-461. 



(Visited 97 times, 1 visits today)

About the author

Ronan O'Beirne was the Blog Editor for the Spring 2014 issue of Ryerson Review of Journalism.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest stories from our newsroom.