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Tensions over U.S. attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas, and concerns about stability after recent floods, highlight Pakistan's importance to U.S. policy in the region. To address one of the world's most troubling states in crisis, Crisis Guide: Pakistan is an online interactive guide that examines the roots of Pakistan's problems, what it means for the region and the world, and offers paths to a solution. It is the sixth in a series of guides produced by MediaStorm and the Council on Foreign Relations that look at major international issues.

Link: Crisis Guide: Pakistan
Client: Council on Foreign Relations
Published: October 7, 2010

The Society of News Design (Award of Excellence)
Use of Multimedia
Webby (Honoree)
News and Politics: Individual Episode
Overseas Press Club of America (Winner)
Best Use of Multimedia
Emmy (Nominee)
New Approaches To News & Documentary Programming: Documentaries
FRANCE 24 – RFI Award (Nominee)
Web Documentaries
Online Journalism Awards (Winner)
Multimedia Feature Presentation, Small Site
The Challenge
For this Crisis Guide, The Council on Foreign Relations approached MediaStorm to create a standalone mini-site, breaking away from the previous Crisis Guide format where guides were contained within the cfr.org site template. The challenge was to create a site that was immersive in experience, allowing the user to focus on the complex history of Pakistan and the issues facing the country.

The guide contains:
  • a cinematic overview
  • an interactive timeline
  • a catalog of domestic issues confronting Pakistan
  • an interactive map exploring the country’s bilateral relations with its neighbors
  • a video gallery addressing possible future scenarios for the country
  • a resource guide

Each chapter contains a large amount of information and in some cases contains multiple layers of information. They had to be designed so that the information was presented in a clear but visually interesting way while being easy to navigate.

For the video overview, our challenge was to construct a compelling narrative that would successfully encompass a wide range of perspectives on an already complex issue. Further, the photography needed to support a script rich with policy insight and historical background.

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The Solution
The guide opens to the full width and height of the user’s browser window, centering the main content of the site in the screen and focusing the user’s attention to the main content. For further immersion, the user can full screen the site as well as full screen each video.

For the overview video, our team worked in conjunction with The Council on Foreign Relations to revise the script numerous times. We sought to create a structure that stayed faithful to their intentions, while simultaneously allowing us to create a cinematic experience, one that offered the viewer an opportunity to reflect on the information presented.

Technically, the guide is templated in Flash and editable by CFR staff through external XML files. Each chapter is built on an organized structure that allows for a variety of displays of information from images, graphs, interactive maps, and video, allowing the user to approach information in different ways.

It was important to CFR that the guide in some form was accessible to users on devices that did not support Flash. Users who go to the site on their iphone or ipad are able to see an alternate but limited version of the site that offers the overview video for viewing.

Another important new feature for the guide was incorporating social media as well as highlighted links to other feature interactives by CFR. Along the footer of guide are buttons for sharing the site to the major social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Digg. The footer also contains a menu to other feature interactives via thumbnail and text.

The result is a more cohesive experience that although is a visual departure from the cfr.org site maintains the aesthetics and branding of CFR.

The Results
Crisis Guide: Pakistan was very well received by the Council on Foreign Relations and at launch was among the top five pages on CFR’s site.

About the Client
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) dedicates itself to improving the understanding of the world, its challenges, and the foreign policy choices faced by the U.S. and other countries. The website is an extensive and trusted resource used by educators and students, government officials, business executives, journalists, and civic and religious leaders.

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