When I’m taking a new path, it’s helpful for me to find one that's comfortable.
The first computer-assisted reporting project I tried 10 years ago analyzed restaurant health inspections – along with about every other CAR newbie in the country.
I’d written about the so-called “CSI Effect” from a courtroom perspective. But I’d always wanted to shadow a crime scene investigator and show, not tell, what they did.
When the Wichita Police gave me permission to follow Cory Rodivich around on a shift, my goal was to produce a mini-documentary and experiment with simple non-linear storytelling.
Through video, I tried to produce a story capable of standing on its own, while still adding some depth to the print story. I wanted to break the video story into chapters, so viewers could pick their order. After years of driving the narrative through print, I’m still trying to wrap myself around the idea of non-linear storytelling.
I decided the print story would deal with the differences between television and reality, while the videos would show what the crime scene investigator really does.
While I don’t consider this my best work, it’s my best in this new area of multimedia reporting.
Above all, completing the project and getting it published improved my comfort zone. The minute I finished, I started planning the next project.