'Snow Fall,' the multimedia extravaganza of a longform article that went viral for the New York Times last December, has a sequel of sorts in 'The Jockey,' a 10,000-word profile of jockey Russell Baze that hopes to parlay the inherent tension of 'Snowfall's' disaster narrative with the suspense of racing horses.
While the Times has, since 'Snow Fall,' taken longer projects and given them a multimedia treatment, 'The Jockey' about eight months later, looks like an intentional match in effort and ambition to the earlier project. And that gap makes sense: stories take months to complete, both as a work of journalism and as a multimedia package. While 'Snow Fall' might be popular, beautiful, and something of a fantasy for those thinking about the future of journalism, they're rarified by the process that creates them.
Here's how the written piece begins:
Russell Baze, the ironman of thoroughbred racing — Lou Gehrig on a saddle — was about to ride in his 50,000th start, an astonishing milestone that by happenstance put him aboard an undistinguished filly. The horse, Finish Rich in Nyc, had not won in nearly a year. “She’s not the one I would have picked for the occasion,” the jockey remarked dryly.
At 55, Baze is near the outside edge of even a durable rider’s working life span. People credit this longevity to his avoidance of serious injury, which may seem an odd thing to say of a man who has broken his cervical spine, pelvis, tailbone and collarbone and suffered multiple compression fractures in his back and neck.
Like 'Snow Fall,' the story incorporates the act of scrolling into the multimedia content itself. 'The Jockey,' however, relies a bit more on full-screen video, with fewer moving sidebars or sprawling animations visible simultaneously as the text. In the newest piece, paragraphs freeze in space as the screen darkens to launch a video on Baze, which include super slo-mo shots of horses in motion that would please any Edward Muybridge fan, interviews with the 55-year-old Baze, a visual breakdown of the physical toll Baze's career choice has taken on his body, and a jockey-view camera.