Fairfax Media has received global acclaim for its interactive multimedia journalism, taking out five Society for News Design “best of digital design” awards.
Winners included “And Then There Were None,” by Age science editor Bridie Smith about the limited funds available to slow species extinction, “Wave Rider,” a profile of pioneering surfer Peter Troy, and “Will To Win,” about veteran NSW jockey Robert Thompson.
There were no other Australian winners, and the recognition puts Fairfax in the same league as The New York Times and The Washington Post, which also received multiple awards.
“We look for stories that have got a lot of angles to them, and by angles I mean there’s text, of course, but there’s also video and there’s photos, we’ve got the opportunity for interactive graphics, cartoons, enough to basically give us some clay to mould,” photography and presentation editor Matt Martel told The Newspaper Works.
Large-scale interactives are produced out of both Sydney and Melbourne. An art director or designer sketches a concept for the visual layout of the piece using Photoshop or InDesign. Plans are then handed over to the mostly Melbourne-based developers, who code that idea into a web-based application.
The desktop version is produced first and, once approved the developers begin work on the mobile adaptation.
Mr Martel said the team’s success has provided validation.
“We’ve never really had the confidence in ourselves to enter the digital awards until this year,” he said.
“The effect it has had on the whole team … has been great, because suddenly we are as good as anyone in the world.”
The team churns out around 12 major interactives each year, with dozens more widgets like The Sydney Morning Herald’s NSW election tool embedded at the bottom of all election coverage.
“We know that the time [spent] on page goes up quickly – when we have that graphic on a story, time-on-page is three and a half minutes.
“We did one on [the number of empty shops along] Oxford St in Sydney the year before last, and the average engagement for mobile was 14 minutes,” Mr Martel said.
Art director Mark Stehle also won an individual award for his work on each of the other winning interactives.
To see Fairfax’s best multimedia journalism, visit smh.com.au/multimedia.
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