Student questions about NSA Files Decoded

Continuing the series on student questions about multimedia storytelling. For this class the students viewed NSA Files Decoded by The Guardian.

Questions and comments by the students:

This one is a well-made piece. Only one question on the design: instead of putting all of the contents in one very long page, is that a better idea to divide it into different chapters and put a linear “chapter guide” thing at the bottom of the page to navigate the readers? Moreover, it may help readers who don’t have time to read it at once to remember which part they should continue and pick the parts they are specifically interested in.

In “NSA  Files: Decoded,” there is a graphic that says how many terabytes the NSA has selected of data to review since you started reading the article. Does The Guardian update the algorithm to account for any changes from the NSA in regards to how much data they review? Or is the example based on data found when the article was written?

How did the web designers create an aspect of the website that changed the amount of data collected based on how much time you have spent on the website?

I thought that integrating brief snippets of video interviews into the story was an engaging way to use quotes. What is the value of using video interviews to present quotes? If the reader did not want to watch the video interviews, would the story still be as an impactful?

This story referenced vastly more sources opposed to the NSA surveillance mission than in support of it. How does a story ensure it is providing the most fair and balanced perspective?

What are some benefits and disadvantages of having the site be fully scrollable through the every chapter vs having a button to the next chapter at the end of each chapter? (Similar with autoplay videos vs click on play videos) Which one convinces the readers better to finish the story?

“Grab the audience’s attention visually.” – Does grabbing the attention visually truly work better than words? Or could it possibly frame the audience to only look at the visual contents of the website instead of the important wording?

I’m assuming you already know about the Snowden leak going into this reading. How does that prior knowledge change your experience with this particular piece, as opposed to Snowfall?

I still find it interesting how some of these websites launch content or play a video automatically, especially in the case of ’NSA Files’. It truly ropes viewers into a set experience, which can often be time-consuming. How much do we know about the demographic that tends to engage with this multimedia storytelling? Is this a specific intended audience? What are the expectations of viewers who peruse a website like this one? Does this take the place of a newspaper article or a documentary or a website (or some combination)?

The NSA Files website maintained some newspaper elements with the black & white color scheme, consistent centered column of text. What does a journalist consider when determining text position like this? Is the model of ‘text in the middle, blank columns on each side’ somehow shown to be more visually compelling?

How did web designers make it so people can interact with the globe and move it around in chapter 3?

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