Tuesday, January 24, 2006

IS THIS JOURNALISM? Interactive airport baggage screener

Niko Chauls is a UMass journalism graduate who has worked at Netscape, AOL and is now the managing editor of MSN Video, the fast-growing video news operation of Microsoft Corp. In a discussion about how journalism may be redefined by technology, he gives the following example:

"After 911, when security at airports was being beefed up big time and every single bag being scanned, it was creating massive delays. MSNBC came up with a great idea for retelling the story in a different way. They got ahold of actual footage from the Xray machines of bags going through and they took that and also got some audio of people in line bitching and moaning about how long it was taking. They rewrote it into a Flash application.

"And the set it up so that you the user had to identify whether there were explosives, knives, guns or sharp objects in a bag. And the ran it through as quickly as a screener would see them. As this audio was playing back of people saying "What's taking so long." At the end you get some kind of a score.

"Cute as it was, it was a very powerful way of telling the story that summed up all of the main points of the story that day that could have been told in six inches or a 20-second television broadcast. But it did it much more effectively and certainly around here the feeback they got was people loved it and they really understood the issues better than if it had been told in the traditional methods. I don't know how perrvasive that kind of storytelling is. But I imagine and I certainly hope we are going to see more and more of that as things evolve. That absolutely was a way in which technology transformed the story."


Niko Chauls - Managing Editor - MSN Video
t: (425) 722-2826 e: nchauls@microsoft.com

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