Times of Crisis followed the success of the previous project that came out of our partnership with Reuters, Bearing Witness, using ideas that had already proved their worth. In addition to a cinematic multimedia introduction piece which told the emotional story, there was a desire to create a visually driven interactive timeline that would allow users to dig deeper into the articles, photography, video, and raw data.
Rather than create the timeline as a one-time solution, however, we were tasked with developing it from the ground up to be a reusable, robust, template-driven application. It had to be flexible enough allow for use in other projects, yet be designed well enough to serve as the centerpiece of the website.
The introduction video piece was particularly challenging, as presenting the world economic meltdown in a visual way was inherently difficult being that it’s a story that lives almost exclusively in numbers and charts and not so much in photographs and video.
Reuters was open to our approach of telling the story as an emotional narrative, which helped fill the visual gap but also resulted in a story that most can relate to, rather than one that focused on the numbers and economic data.
For the timeline, a full back-end CMS – written with PHP and MySQL – complemented the front-end, allowing editors to easily populate it with a variety of content ranging from articles, photographs, videos, quotes, infographics, and more. Templates for each type of entry were designed, coded, and thoroughly tested to ensure a large degree of flexibility and re-use, before finally being wired directly into the database.
The website shell itself was written entirely in Actionscript 3, and was created as a template that runs off an external XML file, allowing Reuters to license the entire project to other outlets who might want to brand it as their own.
Licensed to nearly a dozen other outlets, Times of Crisis launched as an immediate success, garnering attention from many people both in and outside of the industry. It has since been nominated for an Emmy and awarded 1st place in both POYi and NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism.
Reuters, the world's largest international news agency, is a leading provider of real-time, high-impact, multimedia news and information services to newspapers, television and cable networks, radio stations and websites around the globe.