Case Study – “Breaking the Silence”, by Matthew Brown of the Baltimore Sun

“Breaking the Silence”, by Matthew Brown, is a feature that chronicles the lives of seven men that have been sexually assaulted while serving in different branches of the military. From each of the victim’s mini-biographies, three common themes emerged: memory suppression, disbelief from authorities, and rape-induced psychological distress. The story contains a ‘low-level’ interactive insert where the reader clicks to learn the military affiliation, details of the assault, and long-term effects of each of the seven victims. For example, Greg Jeloudov, 39, from San Francisco enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2009. “Within weeks of arriving for basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., Jeloudov says, he was gang-raped by fellow recruits,” said Brown. Jeloudov’s suffering includes flashbacks, a broken marriage, homelessness, and zero support from the Veteran’s Administration (VA). The main text documented the men’s stories too, but did so as a means to express the disparities of male rape victims in the military. Brown cited that when men report a sexual assault, military authorities are less likely to take action than in cases in which the victim is a woman. Additionally, while men and women have to worry about being ‘ostracized’ and damaging their careers, men have to also worry about appearing ‘weak’ in a ‘warrior’ culture when reporting a rape to their commanders. Then, the feature mentions several actions that have been completed to address the problem of commanders being the sole authority to refer sexual assault charges and either uphold or ignore the jury’s findings. Finally, using Peter Vouaux’s story, the article reports that even though several advocacy programs have been started since 2005, many victims and lawmakers still feel that the current system is rigged in favor of the assailant.

The article exploits many of the text elements presented in the course. For example, the story featured an engaging and meaningful topic in documenting the lives of seven service members who were raped. Sexual assault is also a universal topic, understood by everyone. Additionally, the article documents an uncomfortable truth about sexual assault because it exposed that the sex crime could happen to both women and men. The story appeared to be created with the audience in mind because the direct quotes, vivid descriptions, and flow of events sparked strong emotions. The authors included an effective usage of characters by including detailed information from seven male sexual assault victims that chronicled their lives before, during, and after being sexually tormented. Many of the victims chose to hide their experience from their families and friends, which served as their ‘mask’ to cover-up the awful events that happened to them. This concealment is part of the inner conflict felt by the victims of whether to disclose their experience. While the story did not contain an element of surprise, the sexually explicit content, objectivity, and skillful way of writing about an uncomfortable topic grabbed (and kept) my attention.

The story could also be analyzed based on its usage of links, lists, and chunking. First, note that the story does not contain any links or lists. While “The Art of Linking” states that linking should not be ignored and “The Problem With Listless Listicles” provides many reasons why lists are effective, “Breaking the Silence” benefitted by not containing links or lists. Including either of those would have been distracting to the reader. Additionally, the story is broken into five sections based on different components related to the issue of sexual assault among men in the military. From the art of chunking article, the sections could have been divided into better chunks that included bulleted lists, highlighted keywords, or links to more details to help visitors skim through the page and find specific answers. However, the sections appeared to purposefully be separated so that the problem could be introduced (allowing the audience to be sympathetic and wanting to view the rest of the story) followed by an explanation of why men rape victims are treated differently, a synopsis of how the problem is currently being addressed, and the bleak future that many victims face. Therefore, the story was separated into appropriate chunks.

The story does not contain any parts that are strictly from audio files. However, there are several photos and one video. The beginning of the feature contains a scrolling screen that displays a photo of one of the victims. As the photo from the Baltimore Sun article shows, he appears to be distraught for having to remember being sexually assaulted by a high-ranking shipmate.

Brian Lewis, from the Baltimore Sun
Brian Lewis, photo from the Baltimore Sun

Additionally, the photo of another victim, Michael M. Mathews (from Lloyd Fox of the Baltimore Sun), displays an older man with a stoic, dispirited and almost grimacing expression. The image portrays a certain vulnerability of the 20-year veteran of the Air Force, and conveys that he still remembers being raped at Whiteman AFB in 1974.

Michael M. Mathews, photo from Lloyd Fox of the Baltimore Sun
Michael M. Mathews, photo from Lloyd Fox of the Baltimore Sun

The photos of Heath Phillips (from Bob Ellis of the Baltimore Sun) and Peter Vouaux (from Algerina Perna of the Baltimore Sun) show two men who have a ‘mile-long stare’. The images are effective at showing how a victim of a heinous crime can become disconnected from the rest of the world.

Heath Phillips, photo from Bob Ellis of the Baltimore Sun
Heath Phillips, photo from Bob Ellis of the Baltimore Sun


Peter Vouaux, photo from Algerina Perna of the Baltimore Sun
Peter Vouaux, photo from Algerina Perna of the Baltimore Sun

One video was placed in the ‘Introduction’ section of the story. As seen below, the video includes testaments from two of the rape victims along with general comments about military sexual trauma from Sarah Nett at the VA Medical Center.

The informative video, with victim involvement, was a favorable choice compared to an abstract storytelling format, such as the “In Jennifer’s Room” video. The video is valuable to the viewer because it allows two of the victims to be seen and heard and displays post-traumatic stress disorder through the shaking of Vouaux. The video was effective in its current place to transition from multiple paragraphs that document the shortcomings of male sexual assault reporting in the military to the victims’ stories and a broader discussion of the sexual assault reporting issues. However, it might have been more appropriate to place it before the story about Michael F. Matthews.

Multiple statistics are presented throughout the story to show the disparity between men and women when reporting a sexual assault. For example, as displayed in the figure below, during 2012, only three percent of sexually assaulted men reported it and two percent agreed to an investigation compared to 21 and 17 percent of women reporting and agreeing to investigate, respectively.

Sexual Assault Reporting Data from 2012
Sexual Assault Reporting Data from 2012

An interactive data display was also included. The two figures below provide an example of how the outcome of investigations differed for both males and females who alleged forcible sodomy. From the images, fewer males’ cases were referred to court martial, but of those, a higher percentage resulted in conviction.

Sexual Assault Investigation Outcomes - Male Victims
Sexual Assault Investigation Outcomes (Forcible Sodomy) – Male Victims


Sexual Assault Investigation Outcomes (Forcible Sodomy) - Female Victims
Sexual Assault Investigation Outcomes (Forcible Sodomy) – Female Victims

The statistics were brief and meaningful. They were also placed at suitable locations inside of the story. Their format allowed them to be easier to understand compared to the charts from the arrested development project. However, another option for the interactive statistics would be to show them using a slide show, similar to the ones shown in a collection of USAtoday snapshots.

Besides a comment section at the bottom of the article (currently includes 22 comments), the story does not contain other embedded social media content. The story was presented well with the existing images, video, and text. A story told using only Twitter posts, such as the Japanese mountaineer climbing Mount Everest, would not fit for this topic. However, a few embedded posts from Twitter or Facebook might have provided a snapshot of the public’s thoughts regarding male veterans who are opening up about being sexually assaulted by other military men.

In determining the type of story format, I referred to some of the course content, such as the Nieman article that compared news features and narrative stories. “Breaking the Silence” should be considered a narrative because it contains multiple little stories inside of a larger story. Also, the details of the wrongful treatment and psychological trauma felt by the victims are discovered as the story unfolds. The story is informative, but not of a particular current event (or, recent news peg).

Other storytelling elements included timeline navigation and some low-level interactivity. All of the victims’ stories are told chronologically, from military service, to the assault, to the long-term effects throughout the years after being attacked. Also, the politics and developments associated with military men reporting sexual assaults are told chronologically throughout the sections in the main text. As mentioned earlier, low-levels of interaction exist when clicking through the seven victims’ biographies and from the graphic that showed the different outcomes for men and women.

Overall, the Baltimore Sun team produced a well-written and nicely formatted narrative about a difficult topic. The small amount of multimedia compared to other feature stories was appropriate for the topic that was presented. The story was short enough where the text did not feel overwhelming. A potential pitfall that might cause a reader to not engage with the full story is that the ability to read the short biographies about each of the victims is located at the top of the page (on a computer and tablet). The risk of placing the biographies at the top is that the reader (especially someone with a short attention span) might not view reading the rest of the story as worthwhile because of already viewing the ‘important information.’ However, the disciplined reader will realize that the short biographies provide seven samples, but do not tie all of the information together (which is what the main text does). Additionally, the two advertisements that the story contained were distracting, but not enough to click away from the site.


Feedback to the “High Rise” Project
By Katerina Cizek

“High Rise” is an example of how multiple multimedia elements can be combined to document the evolution of a phenomena that has affected society, dating back to biblical times. Cizek documents that High Rise structures have been around since the Bible’s Tower of Babel over 2,000 years ago. She then takes the reader on an interesting journey into the history of the people, places, and symbolic nature of the development of the large vertical structures using a four-part interactive series. From the main four-part video, the viewer can click anytime on a tab labeled, ‘Explore —-‘ to view additional information about the current topic being discussed.

The story includes many levels of interactivity. For example, in Part I, the reader is invited to click a highlighted portion of the screen to learn of how multiple religious texts offered different explanations of whether the Tower of Babel was destroyed by God or not. The two images below show first the screen that includes the entire Tower with a section of it highlighted to indicate the reader to click. Then, the click initiates an animated display of some of the Tower falling, with the remaining structure shown in the second image along with words that help frame the story of whether God was thought to destroy the Tower or not.

Entire Tower of Babel
Entire Tower of Babel
Partially Destroyed Tower of Babel
Partially destroyed Tower of Babel

The photo below adds another layer of interactivity by having the reader drag the ‘Roman’ to the right and then clicking on highlighted regions of the building to reveal some of the names of the apartment buildings.

Click-and-Drag Interaction Using Roman Apartments
Click-and-Drag interaction using Roman apartments

Yet another effective example of the click-and-drag interaction was in documenting the contribution of the elevator to high-rises, as seen in the graphic below.

Click-and-Drag Interaction Using the Elevator
Click-and-Drag interaction using the elevator

Throughout the video, the viewer can click on the tab at the bottom of the screen to obtain more information about the current topic (as stated earlier). Many sections include photos, such as the one below, where the viewer can click a tab on the right side of the screen that reads, “See Back.”

Discussion of the Future of Mass Housing from Early 1900's
Building planning from early 1900’s

While most of ‘back’ of the photos describe a short description of the front of the picture in black text, some of them display text (or stamped words/labels) from the past to provide the viewer with a glimpse of some of the common ideas involved in the construction of high-rise structures, as shown in the picture below.

Back of 'Building Planning' Photograph
Back of ‘Building Planning’ photograph

Bold and large font are used effectively throughout the story to capture the viewer’s attention, such as the horrific living conditions at the complex used to house Hashima coal miners, as shown in the photograph below.

Different Fonts Used to Highlight Horrific Living Conditions
Different fonts used to highlight horrific living conditions

Some of the sections cleverly included a short game to help illustrate the subject, such as building Vancouver’s condos or placing furniture inside of a small micro-unit apartment (screenshot shown below).

Short game to decorate micro-unit apartment
Short game to decorate micro-unit apartment

Another element that was good was how the story included a different narrator for the third portion of the story, Cold Specks, as a way to add a different tone to the final narrated portion of the story. I thought the poetry style of story telling for the first three sections was effective and forced the reader to pay extra attention to match the photos with the rhythmical narration.

Miles Glendinning, Mass Housing Scholar, and Graeme Stewart, Architect and Advocate of Tower Renewal, provided stimulating audio alongside photographs to add additional context for some of the more thought-provoking subjects.

The fourth part of the story added an additional element with the powerful music by Patrick Watson during the slide show of both uplifting and troubling images from balconies, different weather conditions, high-rise inhabitants (both humans and pets), and finally priceless views from inside of the building during dawn and dusk, such as the image displayed below.

Image at dusk from Chicago Skyline high-rise
Image at dusk from Chicago Skyline high-rise

Color is used effectively throughout the story to show true images from a certain time period and illustrate the conditions that effected the evolution of the high-rise, as displayed in the two images below.

Black-and-white image of Tenement apartments
Black-and-white image of Tenement apartments
Colorful image of Icon Brickell in Miami on bright, sunny day
Colorful image of Icon Brickell in Miami on bright, sunny day

In addition to the first four parts, a photo gallery of readers’ stories is included to provide further insight of peoples’ views of high-rise living. One benefit of the gallery is the captions are on the same page as the image. An example image is shown below.

Photo gallery example
Photo gallery example

The first three parts of the story involve time navigation to document the history of vertical living. Part I takes a historical look at vertical structures from the Tower of Babel over 2,000 years ago, to Arizona cliff dwellings 700 years ago, to Yemen’s ‘Manhattan of the desert’ 500 years ago, to the Tenement in New York 100 years ago. A photograph of the famous Dakota building transitioned the reader to the second part of the story, the ‘century of the high-rise’ (or, the start of vertical living being in its ‘prime’), in 1884. Then, the early residential use of concrete occurred in 1916. The Hashima Island example explored the idea that vertical structures were both thought of as a solution to the century’s problems to being the cause for them. Then, in 1930, the idea of public housing spread worldwide, from Vienna to the United States. After World War II, mass housing bloomed for the next two decades, promoting social equity. During this time, New York was cited as housing 5% of its residents in its housing projects. During the same time-frame, Robert Moses’ urban renewal is cited as boosting the segregation and crime it was supposed to reduce. Then, around 1968, most cities except for New York demolished high-rise structures on a mass scale. Many of the remaining high-rise neighborhoods were now warehouses for the poor and had buildings that were falling apart. The story then transitioned to the rise of the era of the Condominium in the 1990’s. These new vertical structures are sought after by the capitalist elite and are no longer signs of social equity. The timeline continues by documenting the rise of pop-up cities and how more poor people were made to live in older concrete structures (a kind of ‘deportation’). The timeline continues by documenting how low-rent units became smaller and smaller as a way to confine the young and cash-poor into a prison-like retreat. The end of Part III documents that despite the challenges facing urban high-rises in certain communities, they are thriving in many countries, such as Singapore and Hong Kong. One of the only sections that did not follow the timeline was in Part II, when the story took a quick turn to the present to cite that 60 million people in Russia, Germany, and Mongolia still reside in vertical concrete structures.

Some of the other points of navigation are by using the ‘Explore’ button to illustrate a full story within a certain section, as shown in the two images below.

First image for keeping Hip-Hop building
First image for keeping building that birthed Hip-Hop
Second image for keeping building that birthed Hip-Hop
Second image for keeping building that birthed Hip-Hop

Additionally, part four involved navigating through different collections of images revolved around certain common themes, such as the idea of being alone. Examples of these are shown in the three images below.

Man, along on balcony
Man, along on balcony
Child, alone, inside high-rise apartment
Child, alone, inside high-rise apartment
Man, alone, at dusk
Man, alone, at dusk

Lakers vs Grizzlies – Friday March 6th

Image Courtesy of the Associated Press - Mike Conley stole the basketball from Jordan Clarkson with 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter, which sealed the victory for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Image Courtesy of the Associated Press – Mike Conley steals the basketball from Jordan Clarkson with 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter and sealing the victory for the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Los Angeles Lakers lost their fourth straight game and fell to 16-45 with Friday’s 97-90 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. The game featured nine lead changes and another Lakers collapse in the fourth quarter. The following is a timeline of events that occurred in the game.

6:12 left in first quarter: The Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies exchanged baskets for the first half of the first quarter, as the Grizzlies take an early 10-8 lead.

3:55 left in first quarter: Jordan Clarkson is 5-for-5 from the field and is the main reason that the Lakers only trail 18-14. The rest of the team is 1-of-9 so far.

3:10 left in first quarter: After a rare defensive turnover forced by the Lakers’ Clarkson, another Lakers miss brings the team to a combined 6-of-15, with five of the makes by Clarkson.

End of first quarter: The Grizzlies lead the Lakers 24-18 behind a 55% shooting performance and a 13-8 rebounding advantage. The leading scorers after the first quarter are Clarkson of the Lakers with ten points Zach Randolph of the Grizzlies with six points.

10:50 left in the second quarter: Wesley Johnson hits the first 3-pointer of the night for the Lakers, but they still trail 21-26 early in the second quarter.

7:30 left in second quarter: After a basket by Jeremy Lin, the Lakers still trail by five points, 25-32, despite the Grizzlies only making two baskets in their last nine attempts. Memphis has been scoring regularly from the free-throw line over the past three minutes.

4:40 left in second quarter: Wayne Ellington scores for the Lakers, marking the first starter to make a basket not named Jordan Clarkson, reducing the Lakers deficit to four: 31-35.

3:35 left in second quarter: As shown in the Twitter post above, Clarkson makes an emphatic dunk, and the Lakers take their first lead, 36-35.

2:00 left in second quarter: With two minutes left in the first half, the game is tied at 39. The Lakers have gotten back into the game by holding the Grizzlies to 5-18 shooting in the second quarter.

Halftime: As shown in the LakersNation Facebook post, the Lakers lead 46-43 at the break. Clarkson leads the Lakers with 17 points and Tony Allen leads the Grizzlies with 12 points.

10:05 left in third quarter: Carlos Boozer of the Lakers gives the purple-and-gold a 53-45 lead, which causes the Grizzlies to take a timeout. During the pause in play, Marine veteran Malcolm “Jimmy” Keeps was honored as part of Ashley Furniture Military Family Recognition program. Keeps fought in the horrific 1945 Battle at Iwo Jima, which took the lives of over 7,000 Marines. The real-life war hero received a standing ovation from the crowd of 17,399.

7:20 left in third quarter: Clarkson achieves a new career-high, by scoring his 23rd point, as he lifts the Lakers to a 57-52 lead.

5:10 left in third quarter: Wow! How did Boozer make that miraculous shot with the shot clock winding down? The Lakers will gladly take it, as they continue to lead the Grizzlies 61-56. Watch the video of the basket on the Twitter post above.

2:45 left in third quarter: Nick Calathes hits a field goal to give the Grizzlies their first lead of the second half, 62-61. Randolph has also been establishing his presence in the paint over the last few minutes. He now has 17 points and 11 rebounds.

End of third quarter: After the teams exchanged baskets, the Lakers made four points-in-a-row and took a 71-67 lead into the fourth quarter.

10:00 left in fourth quarter: The Lakers take their first double-digit lead and are in front of the Grizzlies 77-67 with ten minutes left in regulation. After a slow start, the Lakers are now shooting 51% for the game.

5:27 left in fourth quarter: The Grizzlies are chipping into the lead by using their signature ‘Grindhouse’ style of play, trailing only 81-78. They increased their defensive intensity and Courtney Lee has bottled-up Clarkson for most of the fourth quarter.

3:18 left in fourth quarter: The Grizzlies score on their last five possessions, and have reduced the Lakers lead to one point, 85-84, marking the closest they have come to leading since 1:09 left in the third quarter.

2:00 left in fourth quarter: As crunch-time approaches, the Lakers cling to a one-point lead, 87-86. So far this season, the Lakers have been unable to perform well down the stretch in close games. Will this game be different?

1:36 left in fourth quarter: After a Randolph steal, Jeff Green makes two free throws and gives the Grizzlies their first lead since 2:45 left in the third quarter, 88-87. Besides the steal, Randolph’s 24 points and 13 rebounds dominate the Grizzlies’ box score.

0:45 left in fourth quarter: After Mike Conley made one-of-two free throws to give the Grizzlies an 89-87 lead, the Lakers have the ball and an opportunity to tie or take the lead.

0:23 left in fourth quarter: The Lakers are letting this game slip away as Mark Gasol makes two free throws to gives the Grizzlies a 91-87 lead. The Grizzlies have outscored the Lakers 7-0 over the last 90 seconds.

0:13 left in fourth quarter: Ahead by four points, 93-89, Conley steals the ball from Clarkson, which would end the Lakers realistic chance of a comeback and represent another game that was lost in the fourth quarter.

End of the fourth quarter: The Grizzlies defeat the Lakers 97-90 by going on a 24-9 run to end the game. They have beaten the Lakes in six straight games and have now swept the season series (4-0) for the first time. Watch the Youtube video above for complete highlights.

Kobe Bryant Still Relevant in Social Media – 4 Examples

Kobe Bryant is still mentioned in social media even when he does not have a presence on the court. His season-ending shoulder injury hasn’t stopped him from maintaining traction on Facebook, Twitter, Vine and Youtube.

Laker Nation’s Facebook page showed a post about an article that documented Bryant’s absence from this weekend’s All-Star festivities in New York City. He is one of the few NBA stars that can dominate social media outlets during an injury-plagued season.

The Lakers twitter feed also contains posts related to the injured Bryant. Even though he was ruled out for the 2015 NBA All-Star game due to injury, personnel running the Lakers Store are still advertising his All-star game jersey.

As of February 15th, the third post on the #Lakers Vine site showed a montage about Bryant, displaying him as a living legend. His recent ailments do not prevent people from wanting to remember his greatness.

In an effort to continue to generate stories about the injured Bryant, some affiliates have started to document other players’ opinions about him, as evident in the video below.

Whether he plays another minute in the NBA or not, Bryant will be a recurring social media topic long after he is done playing.

Lakers Woes Continue on ‘Grammy’ Road Trip

The Lakers hold the fourth worst winning percentage in the NBA with an overall record of 13-37, which includes a road record of 6-20. Their most recent display of inefficiency has covered three cities during their current road trip. The path to these cities (New York, Milwaukee, and Orlando) are shown below.

On February 1st, the Lakers began their trip in Madison Square Garden to play a team with a lower winning percentage than them. The fans in the building witnessed the lowly New York Knicks blow-out the Lakers 92-80 behind 31 points from Carmelo Anthony.

Milwaukee was the location of the next substandard performance by the Lakers. On February 4th, the patrons in the BMO Harris Bradley Center witnessed the Lakers give up a six point lead with less than a minute to play in regulation and lose to the Bucks 113-105 in overtime.

The Lakers continued their road difficulties this past Friday at the Amway Center in Orlando. For the second game in a row, the Lakers lost a fourth quarter lead, eventually losing to the Magic 103-97.

The final stop on the current trip will be in Cleveland. Even though the Cavaliers have dealt with their own problems of inconsistency this season, Lakers fans should not expect their road struggles to turn around anytime soon.

Tinseltown: The Secret of How to Keep Interest for an Unwatchable Team

The population in Los Angeles has steadily increased since 1992, as shown in the graph below. The United States’ second most populated city has almost four million people, which is plenty to fill the Staples Center, home of the 16-time champion Los Angeles Lakers. The purple-and-gold have the fifth most attendance in the NBA for the 2014-2015 season, even though they rank in the bottom-half in offensive efficiency and second-to-last in defensive efficiency. Having an overpopulated city is one way for a team to survive a rebuilding era.

A Hall-of-Fame Career Despite Being Broken

Kobe Bryant was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff last Friday, and is expected to miss the remainder of the 2014-15 season. However, the third leading scorer in NBA history has suffered over 20 injuries throughout his career. While injuries have ended Bryant’s season each of the past three years, he has demonstrated a resolve of playing through physical ailments and missing minimal playing time during 16 of of his 19-year Hall-of-Fame career. Click on any of the the images below to view a detailed depiction of 10 of the more severe injuries that Bryant has fought to overcome.