Case Study: Segregation Now

Intro

Segregation Now profiles three generations of a black family in Tuscaloosa, Alabama  to exemplify the lack of growth the city has made with segregation in schools. The interactive article engages readers by including them in a process of uncovering 60 years worth of race and education history within the Tuscaloosa system. Segregation Now incorporates text, images, videos, a map, an interactive timeline, and social interaction to provide information and spark a discussion.

Framework & Basics

In reference to the StonyBrooke Model this piece is in the news neighborhood and conducted by a group of journalists, for the public with the goal of providing historical, reliable information. It is full of feature like stories and has many of the elements of a features story including having background history and profiling specific people .This story didn’t use traditional subheads or lists, but relied on quotes, timelines, and imagery to break the story apart.

Text

After comparing the full text version of the article with the multimedia version, it is apparent how much more value is added to the story with the additional elements provided in the latter version. Immediately the white text on a black ground alternately contrasted with the black text on a white background, makes a statement in itself . The clever use of the colors parallels with the subject of race and helps visually divide the sections. The large font size and use of chunking throughout this piece, make the heaviness of the topic and vast amounts of information more manageable.

Block quotes like the one below one are used often in this story and help highlight major points. The quotes also include social media share buttons for Facebook and Twitter. The buttons are effectively attached to bold statements that would catch the eye of a reader scanning a feed.

blockquote

Photo, Video, and Audio

The use of both black and white and full color photography is seen throughout this article. It is especially powerful when scrolling into a new chapter. As each image taken in current times is uncovered, it transitions from a black and white image to having full color. This powerfully parallels the theme of questioning how much of history has truly changed. A majority of the images used in the story portion are profiles of the people in the civil rights era, family subjects, or leaders in the desegregation movement.They give a face to the issues and help bring a personal connection the story.

In the chapter about D’Leisha there is an additional slideshow of photos. The slideshow titled, Resegregating America, includes images of students and faculty at Central Elementary,Central High School, and Northridge High School. It didn’t stand out to me as much my first time reading the article, which makes me wonder if the placement of it could have been better. Perhaps it could have been placed towards the end of the story instead of at the top or in between one chapter and another.

There is no audio used in this piece, which I don’t think was a big miss. However, if audio was entertained it could have been used in conjunction with the images of riots and classrooms, background noise reflecting both experiences.. A video was incorporated in the form of an almost 16 minute documentary. The main subject of the documentary is the principal of Central High School and his point of view is both necessary and refreshing in this manner. Over video, his passion and pursuit of equal opportunity for his students is displayed. He is also not profiled in the text portion of the article, so the documentary adds that unique value to the story. In the video text overlays are used to display statistics and facts on the flaws within  Another video was used in the “6 words story” section discussed later.

Navigation

This story is designed as one single long scrolling page. At the top of the page in small text is a navigation bar that allows quick access to the different chapters, a full text version of the story, editors review and the other various multimedia elements of the story. It starts off on a screen filled with a text image of the title, follow by a navigation button that says “Begin”. Once pressed, the first set of images images and text overlays begin, followed by the chapters of the story. To go from one chapter to another, a button titled “Resume” must be pressed or hovered over. If not, a reader will go straight to the comments discussion section. Throughout the story, links are included to direct readers to the timeline, slideshow, and map. In one glance of the story it is easy to miss some of these sections because. The navigation bar at the top page is the best way for reader to make sure that every area is covered. Because the content is so striking, it is likely that a reader might scroll through the story like I did, and then go through the navigation bar after reading the full story. That experience is fine, but if the creators want the content to be experienced in a more chronological or specific order, the extended content (timeline, slideshow, map) should all be included on one page. In my opinion, being able to read the story all the way through and not be linked to the other pages until afterwards may be the best way to maintain and direct the focus of readers.

 

Map

The map was something I almost missed because the image seems to be missing above the link to it.

nomap

However, after finding it, it proved to be a nice interactive compliment to the story.  The map page has two major functions. One is an interactive map with a slider that shows, between 1993 to 2011, the rise in the concentration of black students in schools that are majority minorities across the U.S. The other function is a tool that allows readers to input a school district and figure out whether or not their school was ever under a desegregation order and a look at the segregation breakdown of the school. This map was a great addition to the story and helps readers personalize more with the story and find out information that immediately connects with them.

Timeline

The timeline is sprinkled throughout the right sidebar of the story, but fully accessible on another page solely dedicated to it.  It’s an interactive graph that spans over history from 1885 to 2014. The timeline includes court occurrences, newspaper articles, photography, quote graphics, and even a video. It separate events that took place in Alabama, The Courts, and across the U.S. The timeline is easy to navigate and is effective in quickly displaying facts, outside of opinion or feature like stories.

Six Words Stand Alone Site

sixwords.png

I almost missed this page as well, because unlike the other pages that were incorporated in the story, this page was accessible through the navigation bar at the top. There was also a misleading mention of it right above the discussion area which made me think the discussion area was there the six word stories were. Once I accessed the page it was pleasantly refreshing. The page was focused around students at Central High School and Northridge High school, there perspectives in text, video, and photography form. From the profile images of the students smiling in sunlight, to their six word perspectives on race and education, this page added a light and hopeful tone that helps balance out the harsh realities expressed in other parts of this piece. This page also encouraged user interaction, prompting readers to share their own six words and social media share buttons.

Social Interaction/Comments

Like mentioned previously, at first glance of this section I thought that the comments and the six word stories were a dual section. Upon further reading of the comments, I could see that a lot of the comments were people ranting or arguing with other, as common in discussion areas. In the chapter on comments we discussed whether or not there really is a need for comments. This argument is still being discussed today. Whether or not people’s comments are right or respectful, one thing to note is that this story sparked a discussion. Perhaps social media sites like Twitter would be better to carry those discussions using a distinct hashtag, as to not take away from the story in its platform.

Commens.png

Outro

Overall, this story does a great job of using the various elements and opportunities covered over the course. The use of imagery, timelines, maps, and block quotes are strong areas of this article. My only suggestion would be a more prominent and intuitive navigation tool to cover any potential missed opportunities of content. Perhaps the navigation bar could have been larger, places on the left side of the article, or not have had a drop down menu involved.

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