The Pulitzer Prize is a US award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. The winner of the award is someone that does an outstanding job in the four categories listed above. The Las Vegas Sun Pulitzer Prize-winning 2009 series on Construction Deaths is an excellent example of a multimedia package that goes above and beyond what is expected of a news site.

For this paper I have selected  the Construction Deaths article because the Las Vegas Sun not only completed this piece with accuracy, but its detailed contributions to the article make it a great example of innovative journalism.

I was struck with the publications use of emotive imagery when opening this article. Immediately the audience is affected by three emotional pictures. The three pictures not only hold emotional value, but they also allow the reader to decide what part he/she wants to examine first. This multimedia capability, not to mention its flexibility, allows for the reader to have ultimate control. This non-linearity approach gives the reader the highest power to read what they want, how they want it, and when they want it. All with just one click of the mouse.

After independently clicking on the picture that interests the reader the most, you are brought to three different multimedia approaches with information that you would like. The three multimedia approaches in this article are…

  1. Slideshow of pictures
  2. A video
  3. An interaction of information between the computer and the user

The photos in the slideshow are very successful in their use of the language of the image. By having exquisite quality of lighting, juxtaposition, a point of entry and emotion, it best tell the story to readers who learn with visual elements. In this photo gallery the reader has the independent power to decide how they want to look at the pictures. The reader additionally has the ability to use the auto play option or to manually click through each picture. The reader holds the power to decide.

The video nicely applies the technique of emotional appeal, that the photo gallery cannot even begin to describe. The video has sentimental testimonies from heartbroken families. The depression and disappointment in their voices is something that cannot be described through written words or pictures.

Personally, I believe this video encourages community building. It shows the immediacy of the community outreach it is begging for. It also encourages people to become more aware that help needs to happen now as more people continue to die in the unsafe working conditions.

As the photo gallery and the video both exceeded the ordinary, the interactive link went above and beyond anything I could have imagined. This portion of the article, in my opinion, was unforgettable. The journalists exceeded anything I thought a newsroom would be capable of doing. Viewers in this segment are encouraged to click on the buildings to learn more about how the individuals died. After clicking on the building, viewers are struck with illustrations of stick figures dropping from buildings. On the right side of the illustrations a box explains how each person had died.

This sort of real-life animation was shocking and unsettling. To go even a step further the Las Vegas Sun  had a memorable biography of the workers killed on the strip. Each person had a photograph and a paragraph dedicated to their life. This gave the publication a chance to be hyperlocal in their information  for a remarkable piece.

The page included an “Archive Highlights” section that included many links to other videos, blog posts, and multiple stories. The hyperlinks related to the Construction Deaths piece in a storage content that was user friendly. All of the hyperlinks to the other stories worked with perfection and allowed for even some user-generated content to be heard. Everything was just a click away for more information, and the site was very scannable. Also, the time and place access allowed someone like me, who is just finding out about this article now, the availability to read it four years later.

The only complaint I have for this piece, is the fact that I did not know about it until four years after it was first published. I wish the publication team would of done more outreach to the worldwide web so that even a little farm girl from Minnesota could offer some help.

This type of journalism would be impossible for print media to accomplish. In retrospect  the internet allows unlimited space and audience control that no print media could do. The Las Vegas Sun took advantage of those key attributes to become the 2009 winner of the Pulitzer prize. By including a photo gallery, a video, a dozen hyperlinks, and an unforgettable mashup of 9 illustration, the Las Vegas Sun deserved the prestigious award for its detailed approach of online journalism.

Greenspun, who helped write the Constructions Death piece, said he was thinking, “With an eye to what newspapers needed to be in the future.” I agree with his comment, and I hope this article becomes a model for what the newspapers will look like in the future years.

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