ESPN’s “You Can’t Quit Cold Turkey”

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By Justin Paprocki

What first drew my attention to this piece is the emphasis it places on the story. It’s an in-depth piece about an ex-NFL player who’s struggled with weight problems. The story is an engaging read – well reported with a use of first-person that adds to the narrative.

I bring this up first because I feel that multimedia sometimes becomes too distracting. I’ve seen other examples (*cough* snowfall) where the multimedia overwhelms a good story. One of the positive aspects of this piece is that it plays to its strength: the narrative. The design elements complement it nicely. It’s nothing revolutionary. Nothing that has too much of a “Wow” factor. But it doesn’t need to have those things.

When you first open the page you are presented with a simple layout. The graphic is boarderline snarky — football helmets with desserts as logos – but it fits the mood of the story. It opens with a phrase that prompts you to scroll down. The reader is presented with two clear, striking images of the subject. It’s a good example of how a layout can draw a reader into a story. My only qualm would be that it takes just a little bit too long to scroll – at one point I was wondering if my mouse was working because nothing was moving on the page. It was only a split second but enough to raise doubt in my mind.

Shortly after starting the story, there’s an embed of a video. It’s an interview with the subject and writer that adds more detail to the text piece. It also shows the subject playing quarterback. It complements the story nicely because the interview doesn’t repeat what’s in the story and it also shows the subject in action.

The rest of the piece is divided with graphics or photos to break up the text. They’re simple and clean and add some interesting layers to the story. The profile photo of the subject and the shot of him and family how him in a different light. It’s nothing too flashy – just enough to add an extra layer to the story.


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