Sunday’s New York Times cover story was a feature about a young woman that had been entangled with ISIS groomers online. I saw it at first in print a Starbucks, then went home to finish the story by looking it up online.
When I searched and found the article, “ISIS and the young lonely American,” a video popped up, and for the next eight minutes I watched a young girl talk about her online ‘friends’ and her new found Islamic faith. The video did not show her face, but it played footage of her recounting some of her views that were not included in the print article.
The difference was significant: in the print version of the article the woman was dignified, if simply a little lost. In the video, she seemed almost childish, yet unbearably lonely in her grandparents house in the middle of nowhere. The video showed her room, her things, what she wore and other details that the article had left out.
I was intrigued initially, though, by what had been printed in the article, and I went on to finish the long feature after watching the video. Honestly, had I only stumbled across the online version, I may not have taken the time to read the story in its entirety after watching the video. It was very well written and I felt very personally involved in the story. Again I began to wonder about the future of Journalism and how the rising trend toward online consumption will change the way that we present the news.
This feature was very in depth, uncovered a complicated and frequently misunderstood subject, and was frankly a bit frightening. The use of the video footage of the subject of the feature actually enhanced its reality. When I was reading, I felt distanced from the woman and her issues felt alien and unrelated. When I watched the video, suddenly the was real. The two mediums gave completely different tones, yet in a way they complemented one another. The print story provided much needed storyline and background information, while the video allowed the subject to tell her version of reality to the viewer without filter or interpretation.
I’m not sure that the use of video would be effective in every online story, but for this feature it brought the people and places to life very effectively. The article can be read here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/world/americas/isis-online-recruiting-american.html?_r=0