Sometimes a speech can do in minutes what a novel takes hundreds of pages to do: move a spectator to their core. Even at the high school level, readers today expect more than just fine print. While the shift to multimedia broadcasting is relatively novel for Verde, we've already made significant progress leveraging the respective strengths of different platforms. Weaving together the literary weight of words and the sensory immersion of visuals and audio, I try to provide Verde's audience with a more visceral media experience.
Hands Off Net Neutrality
“Hands Off Net Neutrality” was my first foray into the realm of digital storytelling. My naivety is likely why I chose to create a Storyform; little did I know how finicky the platform would be. After more than five hours of interviewing activists and covering a local net neutrality protest hosted by the Raging Grannies Action League in downtown Palo Alto, my story partner and I spent the next few weeks curating our interviews and photos. We ultimately merged our most powerful photographs, scintillating interview snippets and sped-up video montages to create what we hoped would be a visceral digital package. Months later, our Storyform won second place photo-slideshow in the National Scholastic Press Association’s Digital Story of the Year contest. View the story here or watch the click-through below.
(Left) "Protect the Internet" to the tune of "God Bless America" and (right) "This Egg is Our Egg," a semi-comedic rendition of "This Land is Your Land," were composed and performed by the Raging Grannies Action League at a net neutrality protest in Lytton Plaza.
A Safe Haven for All?
Following President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, the new administration released a slew of mandates and executive orders cracking down on illegal immigration with renewed vigor. Many of those affected live within Santa Clara County, which is home to more than 180,000 undocumented immigrants. To investigate the local and human impacts of national and abstract immigration policies, I interviewed Dr. Gloria Hernandez-Goff, superintendent of the Ravenswood School District, where many students are undocumented or live in vulnerable housing. I shot our conversation using a tripod so I could ask questions while recording, then used iMovie for editing. Since most of the video is interview footage, I incorporated subtle background music throughout to keep the audio track engaging. To create more visual interest, I created "verbal pull quotes," using pop-up text to display powerful sound-bites right as Hernandez-Goff said them. Though the core story — "A Safe Haven for All?" — primarily follows the trials of an undocumented mother, Hernandez-Goff's audiovisual story offered an interesting supplement by providing information not included in the body text. Read the full story here.
A Heritage of Hatred
During my interview with Palo Alto High School Living Skills teacher Letitia Burton, I captured the voice recording of one especially poignant moment when she teared up while discussing the resurgence of vitriol in modern-day America and what it means for future generations. Audibly hearing the crack in her voice and the conviction of her words was far more rousing than reading them in print could be, so I embedded a Soundcloud snippet to accompany the article online. I edited the clip in iMovie to reduce background noise but ultimately chose not to include background music, keeping with the authenticity and unfiltered nature of Burton's quotes. Leveraging the strengths of this audio platform, I was able to add a visceral new dimension to my storytelling.
Debunking the Wonder Drinks
In the last two years, probiotic health drinks took Palo Alto High School by storm. In this science-based exploration of pop culture, I debunked various myths about popular health drinks like kombucha and kefir.
When it came to digitalizing my article, I knew that my art-based print design would not integrate well into the traditional Wordpress post format. To make my online piece more engaging, I created a vibrant infographic for the many kombucha aficionados at my school.
Drawing from research by the American Homebrewers Association, I diluted the process into five simple steps. Each icon I edited myself in Photoshop, and I chose a gradient, warm-toned color palette similar to the sunrise hues of kombucha.
While the long and vertical format of the infographic may not have been the most suitable for print, it added an engaging digital element to my otherwise sparse webpage. Most importantly, my infographic leveraged visual storytelling tools to convey information not in my article, serving as an aesthetic and informative multimedia supplement.
Read the full article here.
For the last three years, I've been both an English teacher in rural China and a witness to the fundamentally diverging ways of life of my students. During my last visit, I shot some raw footage of the main village and entryway to a student's home. While the video has yet to be polished, this project is part of my upcoming Yuanyang package for a narrative-style travel story.