Perfect – By ESPN

One of the best multimedia projects I have ever seen. Telling the story of Heath White, a FBI agent, former pilot and marathon runner and his confession.

Quick overview of his story: Heath was, by most peoples’ definitions, perfect. He graduated college with a 4.0, played sports, got a license and married his high school sweetheart. He had a healthy baby girl in 2005. His wife was pregnant again in 2006. With early testing they discovered their daughter Paisley had Down Syndrome. Heath confesses he tried everything he could to convince his wife to have an abortion. She couldn’t do it. When Paisley was born Heath felt disconnected from his family. He stopped running marathons. He was ashamed at not being perfect and couldn’t understand why this had happened to him. It wasn’t until he was tickling Paisley, and she giggled and smiled that Heath realized she was just like any other kid. To show his pride he began running again, only this time with Paisley (via stroller). He has come a long way he says, and knows his confession of his true feelings will hurt his daughter some day. But, he says, if he can convince a father out of feeling the way he did and making the wrong decision, it will be worth it.

Some multimedia notes to pay attention to while watching the video:

1. This was put together by ESPN. I know ESPN has gifted photographers, videographers and writers but this sort of feature and soft news material was unexpected. But! Exactly what this industry needs. The relation to sports was subtle, the true message not as relatable, but it widened its audience and challenged its normal viewers to think beyond the scope of a scoreboard.
2. Audio. What excellent work of silence. Using pauses as Heath explained his emotions made the story come to life. It drew attention to video detail behind the audio. Natural sound complemented the video and aided in the story-telling. We heard Paisley laugh when Heath spoke of her laughter. There was raw video of Heath’s proposal to his wife and collected photographs from his past runs/her ultrasound that fit as visuals. There was also no background noise that was unnecessary such as a reporter playing with the camera or fidgeting.
3. Video. Lots of angles. The videographer clearly spent time with the family in multiple settings allowing for such variety. He/she collected old footage as well which was crucial to understanding Heath’s obsession with perfection. The time lengths of video varied and the range of focus (depth of view) did as well. Video was laced with voice-overs. The quality overall was fantastic and the characters weren’t looking directly into the shots making them all the more natural and realistic.

It is inspiring work like this that makes me want to study convergence journalism.

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