Reading While Baking

My office is off the kitchen, so what better than to scan my newsreaders while batch one of the pies(pumpkin, if you must know) are baking.
Digital Journalism, Future of: Greg Elin’s Duh Blog has a post about interactive storytelling and the future of storytelling that caught my attention. Greg praises a NY Times feature with a strong interactive module called ” When Workers Die as a “compelling example of what information age journalism should be.” He writes, “I can say this is the first online presentation of a news story I’ve seen that uses the digital media to convey more information than I felt I got from reading the article.”
While I agree with Greg this is a well done story, with excellent use of the digital medium to present information in multiple formats–and layers–I am disturbed by the seeming acceptance–by traditional journalists and online newspaper people–of the concept that you can do terrific digital storytelling without involving the audience, or having any real interaction.
What online journalists tend to call “interactive journalism,” in my experience, is a multimedia, narratively-structured, branching feature. Usually, these “interactive” features offer NO opportunities for readers to interact–the interactive part means the piece is not straight text and photos.
A top-notch interactive piece, IMHO, should offer users a chance to a) comment, b) vote, c) add posts or pages , sound or images (as in a blog), d)include some dynamic rankings and presentations that show how a new–or repeat–reader how users are interacting with the piece–what areas are most viewed, etc.
Otherwise, you’re creating new generation smart TV on the web–not a bad thing to do, but not the best solution for how to address news with audiences whose behaviors are changing and evolving in other parts of their lives…For example, when the most visited teen site is Angefire, where kids have personal web pages, how can you do consider how true interactivity fits into presenting and reporting the news?
Greg, you make good comments, but hey–expect and ask for more–if you and I don’t, this industry will continue to meander along, always the step-child of true innovation.