|2013||Ewen MacAskill,Gabriel Dance|
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It’s news, but you know you’re going to get a breath-of-fresh-air kind of thing. It’s also creative. Oftentimes, there’s entertainment and it’s fun. But it’s also, fundamentally, extremely well reported, extremely thorough, and accurate storytelling.
Gabriel Dance, Author, to Nieman Lab
NSA Files: Decoded weaves together the complex political, legal, and technological questions raised by the Guardian’s agenda-setting NSA revelations. Employing all of the Internet’s storytelling tools—including video, interactives, maps, charts, text, and GIFS, the web-native feature guides readers through the revelations in an accessible, relatable, and visually compelling way. The feature was constructed to help readers understand one key question: What do the revelations mean for me?
The feature is built in a single, cohesive, scrollable format that integrates video interviews with key experts—including U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, and ACLU lawyer Jameel Jaffer. As the reader moves through the narrative, the videos automatically play. Decoded integrates interactive pieces throughout to help readers make sense of some of the more complex topics that the NSA revelations touch on, including: visualizing your own “digital trail,” how much metadata you generate, how many people could be caught in NSA dragnets if they became a target of surveillance. It also employs a globe that shows how information travels between countries along the world’s fiber-optic cables. Other tools include an interactive that breaks down encryption technology, the laws and legal precedents that the NSA asserts to justify surveillance, and a demographic breakdown of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), which is tasked with judicial oversight of the NSA. The interactive elements are held together with original source documents and text-based narrative that offers background on how the story originated. All the features come together to create an innovative form of interactive documentary that illustrates complex political, legal, and technical issues in an immediate and relevant way.