News Track, Sept 17th, 2014: Vice News

News Track Sept. 17th, 2014

Story: ‘We Are Laying Down Like Dogs’: The Long Wait for Ebola Treatment in Liberia

Source: Vice News

I chose Vice specifically because I think that they present information in a fairly clean, appealing way. Photos are large and at the top of the story, text follows for an infinite scroll and links are added liberally but not without tact.

However, analyzing a piece with a critical eye illuminates some issues I actually really dislike with the Vice format. For instance, with this week’s story, I notice when I click through, I only see the photo, headline and ad on my screen. I don’t get a single line of text. That puts a lot of pressure on the photographer – your photo better be grabbing or I’m gonna skip right through. This photo is… fine. It’s not immediately clear the people laying on the ground are sick, and the tension of the moment isn’t completely obvious. While the scene is photo-worthy, the photo feels amateurish.

If I had the chance to see the lead immediately, I would have felt more inclined to start scrolling. The lead is beautifully done, in my opinion:

For the second day in a row, Victor Kemey was trying to find a health center that would treat his sick son. The day before, they’d gone to John F. Kennedy hospital in Monrovia, but were turned away by staff who said there weren’t enough beds. Overnight, his son’s fever worsened.

Vice immediately puts you in the desperation of the story, which I think is very, very smart for a story like this one. People know Ebola is tearing through West Africa; human faces, human struggle give this story more power than the number of those affected. We’re also given no exposition, no introduction. We’re placed in the action, in the rising tensions, at the breaking point. For a longer online piece, that’s a smart tactic to keep readers reading.

The photo in the bottom fourth of the story is a strong photo, but it feels a bit out of place. I don’t think it’s placed in the story well to break up text. I think it would be stronger higher up in the story, when we first leave our characters and start to look at the facts.

However, I do like the breaks for story links. There’s a link to a story mapping the Ebola outbreaks, and the angle is different enough that it adds depth to the story while keeping you on the page.

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