New York Times sets bar high with multimedia coverage of the Olympics

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While the entire world is concentrating on Michael Phelps and Nastia Liukin during the 2008 Olympics, the online world has it’s eyes on New York Times’ multimedia coverage of the events. In a matter of days, they have published some of the best breaking news sports packages, including graphics, slide shows, panoramas, interactives and other multimedia components.

It all began several weeks ago with the launch of UNC grad Tom Jackson’s stellar interactive schedule. Even the promo was Flash-driven and detected your local time! What I particularly like about this interactive is the attention to detail. Depending on the day, the content is adjusted to show that day’s events in the window, and you can roll over different parts of the scrubber to jump to a particular day. Once events happen, the info box is changed to display a “Results” button, which links out to a stats page built for that individual sport. These automatic updates gives it a long shelf life and can be used even after the Olympics ends as a database of scores!

Once the games began, the NYTimes crew forgot what sleep felt like. That is because, in a matter of 13 days, they have produced 28 online graphics of the different sports. That is more than two a day!

I noticed that they requested the help of UNC adjunct professor Mike Schmidt which was smart because he can definitely bring a lot of design and multimedia skills to the table! Amidst the 28+ interactive graphics I have seen them within a step-player, as a stand-alone, accompanied with audio and/or video, or with a panorama. I am curious to know how they decided which media form to use and how they pushed out such great content in so little time! It reminds me of UNC’s *awesome* efforts at covering the 2008 Special Olympics games, led by Rich Beckman.In terms of production, a class of graphics students spent a semester working on the sports graphics, another class of 3D students worked on 3D graphics of the buildings, and a multimedia class worked on documentary videos. I guess our semester deadline wouldn’t have cut it for NY Times! Alas, we were students and everyone has to start somewhere!

Another graphic I particularly liked was their medal count interactive. They cleverly built the graphic in the shape of the world, so if you are looking for medals from Australia, for example, simply look to the bottom right-hand corner. Each area is color-coded as well for easy detection. The animation is subtle and appropriate, resulting in a visually-pleasing experience. My only complaint when it first launched was the inability to click the years, which was fixed the next day. They must have read my mind!

If you are looking for cutting-edge breaking news multimedia packages, I highly suggest checking out some of the New York Times’ Olympics coverage. You will not be disappointed! I’ll just warn you though, you’ll end up spending hours looking at all of it …

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  • Tom

    Thanks for the kind words, Tracy. You’re right – our multimedia crew has been awesome, and inspiring to watch!

    Tom Jolly
    Sports editor
    The New York Times

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