September 27, 2022

“The future of storytelling”

A New York Times story is making consumers eager to see the next step in news storytelling.

The story, “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek,” is a cross between a news story and novel that follows 16 expert skiers and snowboarders caught in an avalanche in the Cascades in Washington State. Three died.

3-D interactive maps take the reader on a new kind of journey
3-D maps take the reader on a new kind of journey in ‘Snow Fall’

“Snow Fall” is filled with new types of interactive media that “keep the reader on the edge of their seat through a 17,000-word document,” New York Times Sports Editor Jason Stallman told an audience of students and faculty in Lehigh University’s Linderman Library recently.

The interactive media includes pictures of the 16 skiers involved and 3-D maps that bring readers closer to the scene.

The entire Tunnel Creek mountain and every step of the avalanche were digitally recreated, even the path of each skier’s descent of the mountain.

The author, John Branch, worked with 17 other New York Times staffers in the making of “Snow Fall,” far more than for a typical news article.

Stallman said that this kind of story was “only possible because of the amount of cooperation Branch had with those involved.” All of the survivors and the families of the deceased skiers agreed to be interviewed.

“It was a rare opportunity that the New York Times team wanted to take advantage of,” Stallman said.

The article captured the attention of more than 3 million people and won the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for 2012.

Some people have called the story “the future of journalism storytelling,” said Lehigh journalism professor Jack Lule.

Stallman said that the “Snow Fall” team at the Times “does not want to create another story like ‘Snow Fall’” but instead “create the next big thing.”

To see the multimedia project, visit

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