This New York Times story
Illustration by Midjourney as prompted by Mario Garcia with actual text from this blog post.
Authentic mobile storytelling is all about weaving elements together: text, videos, audio, images.
Readers of TheMarioBlog are aware that when we read on our mobile devices, we scroll. The activity is entirely about vertical scrolling as we read a story. We read and we see, but we also listen.
So far, I have seen better embedding of videos than audio in mobile stories, until I saw this example from The New York Times, with a story that is the perfect candidate to make sound the protagonist.
In this piece about Maria Callas, the greatest opera diva of all time, the writer gets into very specific details about the way Callas used her voice, or a short pause, to add meaning and drama to the words she was singing.
However, instead of breaking from text to the usual audio embed, here we see a small, non-intrusive icon that invites the reader to click and listen to the very line that the writer refers to. For example:
Or, as we see here. Notice that the narrative leads to the audio clip then continues. Just like videos have become “paragraphs” in mobile stories, here we can see how sound can become the predicate of a sentence.
This is how mobile storytelling is supposed to be, engaging the reader through a variety of textures, appealing to different senses.
While this New York Times story was about music and singing, I can see the same technique utilised to intercept a partial quote in the middle of text for news and feature stories. What a great experience for the reader. What phenomenal way for storytellers to tell their stories. As I say repeatedly, these are the best times to be a storyteller.
The New York Times just showed us how a writer can add tools to her bag.
Way to go, New York Times. We can all learn from you here.
While Maria Callas was meant to be the protagonist of this story, to me it was those short clips of her voice, woven into the text narrative, that hit the highest notes.
Of related interest: previous about Mobile Storytelling in TheMarioBlog