The recently passed health-care reform bill is a landmark piece of legislation, but understanding how it affects individual Americans can be tough. Instead of just giving readers a broad overview of how the bill affects them, several news organizations created interactive guides that allow readers to input or select information about themselves and understand what part of the health-care reform bill applies to them.
The Times and The Post use a flowchart and an input form, respectively, to provide insight into the bill. CNN uses a photo slideshow, an online journalism standby, to illustrate the intricacies of the bill.
News audiences not only want to know how the bill affects them, but also how their legislator voted. Some news media created visualizations that explain how people voted, which for visual learners functions much better than a simple list.
The Times visualizes House votes on the bill several different ways. There are bar charts, a map, and traditional lists all on one page.
In a forehead smacking, “why didn’t I think of that” move, ProPublica created a side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate versions of the health care bill.
Finally, The New York Times puts health care reform in context with an interactive timeline of the history of health care in America.
The interesting thing about the health-care reform bill is while the outcome of the bill was up in the air, the legislation dominated the news for weeks, giving news organizations plenty of time to form a multimedia or interactive strategy. Yet, most of the subsequent online coverage, save for the above examples, were text stories and links.
If a big story is about to break and you have resources you can dedicate to making your online coverage more interesting, you should always do so.
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