Snow-Falling the Western Bypass

C-Ville Weekly has a long, lovely feature about the Western Bypass, by Graelyn Brashear. The article itself is a history of efforts to build a bypass around the 29 Bypass, presented through the lens of a driving tour of the proposed route with Supervisor Ken Boyd and Piedmont Environmental Coalition’s Jeff Werner riding in the back seat. It incorporates video, maps, per-section public comments, and audio throughout, presented not in a standard C-Ville Weekly page template, but instead as a wholly designed page. Brashear’s article doesn’t provide any new information, nor is that the goal, but instead is taking a long view on the project, sort of a “how we got here.”

This type of integrative story is known in the industry as a “Snow Fall” piece, named for the New York Times story of that title published last year, which resulted in a lot of analysis and endless discussion at conferences. (As an attendee of those conference, I’ll allow that perhaps the discussions only feel endless.) The work was done by Vibethink, the local website design shop who created C-Ville Weekly’s website. This sort of work adds a great deal of production cost to an article, not just in terms of website development, but also producing all of the supplementary multimedia materials. Some argue that snow-falling an article is a crutch, while others argue that it’s simply using the web as something more than a place to shovel material that also appeared in print. I know that when I’ll want to direct somebody to a place to learn more about the Western Bypass, I’ll send ’em to Brashear’s article.

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