Last week, the New York Times broke new ground on the Internet without a great deal of fanfare. Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek came out as a serial novel, a pattern from the days of Dickens and Hugo.
This was no simple story of tragedy or triumph. It started with a video, complete with sound, of wind blown snow. It wrapped in photos, testimonials and even a weather loop. The video explanation of how an avalanche happens is short but better than an documentary on the topic.
But more than any great graphics, this is a an excellently told story.
The lines for the ski lifts began forming about 7, two hours before they were to open. When the gathering skiers and snowboarders heard the explosions echo down the mountain, they cheered. It signaled a powder day.
No modern parlor trick can replace the excellent writing that made this such a compelling piece. It was dressed gorgeously, but it had a well-muscled body under that expensive wardrobe. This is storytelling and anyone who writes or markets for a living should pay attention…a new standard was just set.
Yes, The New York Times has resources far greater than most, but if you disassemble their work, many of its elements are available to anyone who wants to create something that stands out. Do it again, please.