Mastering a new way of storytelling

I pick on The Washington Post a lot. It’s my local paper, so many of the examples I use come from it. But they also have, handsdown, the best newspaper Web site in the country. A recent project on how teens shop is a prime example of how washingtonpost.com leads the pack in redefining how stories are told.

More than a dozen Post reporters, photographers and videographers followed 61 teens through Tyson’s Corner Center, a gigantic mall in the D.C. area. The teens kept track of what stores they visited and how much they spent.

The result is a richly detailed portrait of teens’ consumption behavior that breaks a lot of the stereotypes the media perpetuate about teens.

Among the multimedia highlights:

The Post also visited the homes of seven of the kids to get additional insight into how they buy. These profiles include a clickable image of each teens room revealing what they bought and where, 360-degree views of their rooms and flash maps showing their paths through the mall.

What’s missing? The pictures and video are all from Post staffers. I would like to see what would have happened if the teens were holding the cameras.

The project is a terrific use of the medium, showcasing what it does best. Anyone who just saw the print edition missed out on a lot of that richness. Compare the rich interactive map with this static graphic.

The detailed map of Tyson’s is reason enough for me to hang on to this link. Now if only I could map that on a map.

Disclosure: I worked at washingtonpost.com from 1998 to 1999.

Teen shopping from The Washington Post

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About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is CEO of redesign | mobile. Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. His personal blog is at http://blog.agrawals.org and tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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