Response to Snow Fall- Tunnel Creek
February 2, 2016
“The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” by John Branch opens with a first screenshot where the title is on the right side while most of the screen shows an in-motion snowed surface blown by wind that drags he reader’s attention. The reader knows what is about to read -avalanche- but the image of the wind blowing on the snow, the cold colors of the image put him or her straight into that mindset, that feeling and that environment that is expected when reading about mountain’s stories.
The article proceeds into a description of settings and series of events, and soon puts the reader right into the moment of the avalanche, the climax of the piece, through a series of images described through the eyes of a skier, Saugdad, that was part of the group and survived to the avalanche. At this point, right in the climax, the author gives the first link to click on – a clip from Saugdad telling with her own words what happened and mostly how she felt during that. It is a very powerful choice to let the person speak, live, rather than quoting or reporting her or his words. In this case, I noticed particularly her eyes, the eyes of a survivor, and I could not think about any better way to show them to the reader.
Successively, Branch gives detailed information about the location, Tunnel Creek, that hasn’t been described yet. It is an important piece of the story and it has also an educational purpose for the reader that can understand the morphology and geography of the mountains and how it is something to keep in mind when backcountry. However, this section appeared to me as boring until I was presented with a 3D map that moved above the Cascades mountain range and really showed what was written, making it more interesting and interactive.
The use of a pictures-slides to present the people allows the reader to see the faces and to believe more in what is written. It’s a story about people, and people have a face that with this formula can be seen.
All in all I think that the multimedia contents of this piece are helpful for clarity (like the explanation of the avalanche) and informational purpose, as well as making it easier for a reader to portray the scenes and feeling part of it right in the moment.