Syria: The War We Kinda Care About

It’s a war that has killed over 100,000 and has clearly involved massive crimes against humanity. Fighting grows more violent with each passing day.

But its a war that the U.S. has chosen not to get involved in, despite the evidence that exists of chemical weapons being used by the Syrian government to harm its own people. And the images and video coming out of the region have unfortunately become an all too familiar tune over the past three years to Americans. Another uprising in the Middle East. Another dictator overthrown. Another thing that we want to care about and kind of care about, but we don’t care enough to intervene. And most Americans probably don’t know what’s going on.

The New York Times has been running a multimedia piece about Syria called “Watching Syria’s War.” It was most recently updated in January and is one of the most effectively crafted multimedia pieces I’ve ever seen.

It is a user-friendly package and very easy to read and navigate. People who know little to nothing about the war can get caught up to speed by scrolling through this package. It is neatly chronicled so that if you want to go back to a certain event or point during the war and see what video and images were coming out of the country at that time, you can easily locate that footage and watch it.

As you scroll down the package from the most recent entry in January, you see a series of images that can be clicked on which reveal a video with text beside it. I think that this is a revolutionary way to introduce a video in a multimedia piece and how to keep readers interested.

You can click on any of the images within a give entry and they will all link to the same video, which symbolically show how all of the images are connected, and it also literally brings the images to life for the reader. If the reader wants to learn more about what the image means or what it’s showing, the video will provide that meaning.

There are also tweets below the video to help illustrate what the online conversation was when these events were occurring, and a short paragraph of text accompany each video to provide some background context.

My only criticism is that if someone is looking through this package to find video, it isn’t obvious that the images are links to videos unless you click on them, so I think having a video icon next to or above each image would help readers better identify where videos are and help them locate them faster.

I also find the short blurbs below  each of the videos to be helpful in providing even further context. There’s  “What We Know” and “What We Don’t Know” blurbs which efficiently provide the reader with the context that he or she needs as they view the video. And if they want to watch other videos like this to get further grounded in what’s going on in Syria, there’s a link to other videos that relate to that video.

This package may not provide the most in-depth analysis and for those who are looking to read more text than watch videos, this may not be the package for you. But for those who are trying to get themselves caught up on what’s happening in Syria and get first hand accounts and primary sources, this is the perfect package.

It’s organization and lay out flows smoothly and helps the reader logically follow the chain of events in the war without getting too bogged down in any particular event given that it’s a complex war. Multimedia packages should continue to be produced like this one so that readers can educate themselves about several aspects of an event rather than spending too much time reading about one event that may not tell the entire story.


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