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After funding dozens of award-winning journalists from a variety of disciplines to cover the destruction Hurricane Katrina wrought on the Gulf region, the Open Society Institute had an enormous amount of material and a need to organize and showcase the coverage.

Link: Katrina: An Unnatural Disaster
Client: Open Society Institute and Soros Foundations Network
Published: January 8, 2008

Webby (Winner)
Charitable Organizations Nonprofit
The Challenge
MediaStorm was tasked with aggregating the work from 31 Katrina Media Fellows – including articles, slideshows, video and audio – into a comprehensive website. The Fellows operated under the same grant, but worked independently and were now dispersed around many different parts of the country. As a result, one of the larger challenges was a logistical one, involving the acquisition of a multitude of assets from dozens of different people with different workflows and schedules, and in some cases involved securing rights and working out other legal agreements.

On the technical side, an advanced organizational and navigational scheme needed to be employed in order to provide cohesion between the many different types of content and media, all without the aid of a back-end database or CMS. The website also had to work within OSI’s established brand and website, yet be strong enough to stand out as its own project.

Screen Shot

Screen Shot

The Solution
With the logistical and technical challenges amplified by the limited availability of time, early meetings were scheduled in order to iron out kinks in the scope and establish a means of collecting and managing the vast amount of assets being aggregated as part of the project.

Using Basecamp as a centralized control center, and complemented with Google Docs as a means to share lengthier documents, a hierarchy and timeline was developed in order to keep the project flowing smoothly.

After a reasonable sample of assets were acquired, we began assigning buckets to help develop a navigation scheme, eventually settling with three ways to categorize each story in the project: by issue, by medium, and by location.

Templates were constructed for each medium type, and the stories were woven together as a matrix of related links using a data structure built in PHP, all wrapped up in an interface that used the three buckets of issue, medium and location as the primary mode of navigation.

The Results
109 stories from 46 individual contributors were brought together within 31 projects for the launch of Katrina: An Unnatural Disaster, which went on to win a Webby in 2008.

About the Client
The Open Society Institute (OSI) works to improve the lives of the world's most vulnerable people and to promote human rights, justice, and accountability. To achieve its mission, OSI seeks to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights.

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