All posts by sydinbloom

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

Highrise Review

A Short History of The Highrise may be short in the way that the broad topic and history has been compacted, but it remains to be expansive and engaging in coverage.

morestories

Points of Navigation

The main navigation on the left sidebar parallels its topic of high rise buildings. There are three different stages titled concrete, glass, and home.  Additionally, these different parts can be viewed by dragging the screen to the right at the beginning of each part.

navigation

Once a section is chosen a video or images is displayed. Throughout the video, there are opportunities to learn more about a specific topic by pressing the explore button at the bottom of the screen. Once that button is clicked, additional images, text, and interactive slideshows appear to engage the reader in experiences to learn more.

learnmore

While Concrete and Glass are videos, the Home section is all images. Those images can also be viewed in the gallery section.

Media Elements

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There are various media elements used in the piece including:

  • Video
  • Photographs (Still images and slideshows)
  • Music
  • Background Audio Noise
  • Voice Audio Narration
  • Interactivity of  images
  • Text

Discussion

There is also a discussion forum available for viewers to provide feedback or interact with one another.

Timelines

200years ago

The chronological timeline is displayed across different civilizations and periods of time that adopted high rise style living. The timelines spans from over 2000 years ago to modern day.

Thoughts

Overall, I agree that this is a great example of digital storytelling. However, I wonder if the navigation is intuitive enough. Since I was reviewing this piece for a class assignment, I was forced to be  more investigative. If I was just viewing this story for pleasure, I may have missed various aspects that it has to offer because while one form of media is being entertained, navigation can be easily missed. Perhaps, directional pop up clues triggering navigation could help be beneficial.

Bethel Releases “Have It All” and It’s A Hit!

If you’re a fan of contemporary Christian music, Bethel’s latest album “Have It All” releasing on March 11th is a BIG DEAL. You’re listening to the album and scanning social media to see everyone’s reaction. It is truly all an experience that you have to celebrate with others because a new Bethel album type of joy has to be shared among other excited fans. Yes, it’s that big of deal!

It all started with a free stream of the ENTIRE album the week prior. The album that is not yet streaming on Spotify, was able to be listened to for FREE.

No iTunes issues could get in the way of a successful album release! Brian starts off the album release day addressing complications some pre-orders were having.

Band member Amanda posts about her excitement of the album being released.

Jenn Johnson, one of the founding members of the band posts that this is her favorite album yet. That’s saying a lot after more than 10 albums have been releeased  from the band.

Just to add to the excitement of the day, Bethel releases a very transparent video from Brian talking about his struggles with anxiety  and how it was the inspiration for songs on the album.

When such a major artist like Chris Tomline brags on an album, it makes it official.

TheChristianBeat adds to the Bethel glory by releasing a post about the soon coming Heaven Come Conference in Los Angeles hosted by the band in May.

Lyric videos for all of the songs on the album are uploaded to Youtube, major deal.

Fans are beginning to pick their favorite songs on the album.

The good reviews continue to come in.

The numbers don’t lie, Bethel reached the #1 spot for top albums on iTunes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Accounts to Follow for Christian music News & Encouragement

Do you want to stay up to date with what’s new with Christian contemporary artists and songs?

Do you need a little encouragement throughout the week?

Do you want a playlist to play during your personal worship time?

Follow these accounts for all of those reasons and more:

  1. Relevant Magazine on Twitter

Relevant magazine is an online and print publication about faith, culture, and intentional living. You can catch regular interviews, commentary on music culture, and playlists on their website or social media platforms.

2.  K – LOVE’s Encouraging Word Board on Pinterest

K-Love radio is a ministry and radio station that can be a heard in certain areas in the U.S. and anywhere online. They have a presence across most social media platforms and keep a current list of their top played songs on their website.

3. Bethel Music Moments on YouTube

Bethel Music regularly adds videos to their YouTube account. There you can find updated intimate worship sessions, new videos, dance tutorials and more.

5 Christian Concerts to attend in Florida

This early in the year, a lot of artists  are still confirmng music releases and it’s too early for them to announce concert schedules. Every artist can’t be Beyonce, drop a surprise concert,and sell out immediately. However, there are a few concerts already lined up if you’re into contemporary Christian music. I’ve tracked down 5 concerts you might want to attend if you live in the area or are visiting any time during the first half of the year.

  • This February 14th, catch Hillsong United at USF Sun Dome.
  • On March 5th, Lecrae will be at the Stawberry Fest.
  • Kirk Franklin will be performing on March 15th.
  • Audrey Assad will be in Miami on April 15th.
  • On July 19th, Chris Tomlin will also be in the Miami area.

Check out the map below to find out exactly where these artists will be.

Do you know about any other similar concerts coming to the Florida area? Leave a comment below, spread the good news!

Here’s Why Worship Music is Winning

Christian music or worship music is a style of music that at its’ core uplifts and inspires people who follow the Christian faith. However, it is a type of muscic that can be enjoyed by any one. In a culture where the next best tip or habit that gets us closer to success is a constant focus, here’s why worship music is winning and helps listeners win:

Beautiful smiling african woman with headphones listens to music

It reminds you who are you and hope to be.

It’s easy to feel excited and enthusiastic about ourselves at the beginning of the year. By the end of January, it’s just as easy not to feel that way about ourselves or the goals we’ve set out to accomplish. Songs like, “Brave” by Moriah Peters or “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel reminds listeners that fear, doubt, and pain have less power on an identity that’s rooted in love and victory.

beautiful african young woman listening music earphones

It takes the attention off of yourself.

While being reminded of how great we are sometimes gives us the boost of confidence we need, other times we need to look less at ourselves entirely. Worship music distracts self focus by trading it in for focusing about a higher and better being. This allows for listeners to gracefully accept that they can’t control everything and everything doesn’t revolve around them. It’s in those moments where mediation takes place, gratitude occurs, and joy increases. 

Young Girl Listens to Music in White Headphones

It’s relatable.

Songs about million dollar homes, extravagant trips, and dating escapades might be the reality for some, but it’s not for most of us. Even though it can be fun to forget about daily life or world struggles by singing mindless lyrics, it’s not as affirming. Lyrics about regular situations like feeling defeated after losing keys while rushing out the door, in Francesa Battiseli’s, “This Is The Stuff” are just plain real. Lyrics about the state of our cities and underprivileged areas that need all of us to help, like in Chris Tomlin’s,”God Of This City” hit home. Lyrics that don’t dismiss our lives, but validate them give music an entirely new purpose.

young beautiful brunette woman with smart phone

It has positive lyrics.

Long commutes to and from work can make the most patient person irritable. Listening to news, music, or talking to loved ones is often our only outlet while driving. Worship music has the ability to make bumper to bumper traffic a little less horrible with its’ positivity. Songs about forgiveness, hope, joy, and peace make life seem brighter even if it isn’t just yet.

Two young women with headphones.

It comes in different genres and styles.

Long are the days when worship music only means gospel sounds or quiet hyms heard on Sunday’s. Now, worship music is created in a variety of styles including pop, rap, and soul. There’s a style for any type of music lover, making it a source of connection in a world separated by likes and dislikes.

So, are you already listening to one of your favorite worshp artists or feeling the slightest bit more convinced to give worship music a try? It just may help you win!

Image Source: DollarPhotoClub.