New York Times effectively uses video to update status of Hurricane Matthew

On Friday, Oct. 7, The New York Times published a video story entitled “Hurricane Matthew Pushes North.”  The video detailed the progress of Hurricane Matthew up until that point, showed footage of the wind and rain caused by the hurricane, and contained video clips from local authorities and President Obama.

In this case, video was absolutely the most appropriate technology to produce the coverage.  The shots effectively illustrated the weather situation, and the experience of people who may still be in the vicinity of the hurricane.  The only sound which accompanied hurricane footage was natural sound, without narration, which effectively told the story and made the viewer feel like he or she was there.  Any necessary information was provided in short, on-screen written sentences or phrases.

Alternative technology would not have been as effective because written words could not paint the same picture that the video was able to demonstrate.  Still photography would also have been a less desirable form of technology to tell this story because the storm does not appear conducive to still frame footage, at least in terms of effectively relaying this type of news in real time.  The video of local officials and of President Obama were more effective than written quotes would have been because seeing the principals speak, in this case, emphasized the urgency associated with what they were saying.

A slideshow accompanied by natural audio would have been interesting to see, from an artistic standpoint, but in this case video was the most effective because the weather was causing movement of trees and property, which could only be captured by video.

The aesthetics of the visuals were essentially areas that were in the heart of wind and driving rain.  The footage was not necessarily award winning from an aesthetic standpoint because it was pretty simplistic, but in this situation any footage from this weather emergency is able to tell an effective story and is appreciated.

Throughout the video, ‘Breaking News’ type music plays in the background, which adds to the urgent, real-time emergency element of the story.   The footage of the president and other officials provide the impression of impromptu press conferences where the message is very important for certain members of the audience to hear.

The online presentation was very important and effective, especially for a newspaper website, which demonstrates its willingness to evolve and tell stories in ways that are most effective in the digital age.  The lack of narration, with only graphics, natural sound and music made the story seem current, important, and even exciting.


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