Crossmedia storytelling: Telling Stories in Sudan

Screenshot of Telling Stories in Sudan webpage. You can scrollover each of those images to reveal some information and to listen to the story

Screenshot of Telling Stories in Sudan webpage. You can scrollover each of those images to reveal some information and to listen to the story.

The “Telling Stories in Sudan” project shares folk tales written by young students in Sudan, and the memories of the teacher who compiled them.

I love this project. The Sudan radio team came to me because they were planning to run this as a special on the radio and thought we could do something creative online. As soon as I listened to the first story, the way it incorporated music and sound effects like a mini radio drama immediately inspired me to use a simple, visual layout.

Each story is represented by a stylized image. Scrolling over each image pops up a short description of the story and the writer, as well as audio of the teacher explaining the context of the story and a dramatic reading of the story itself.

Within the confines of our CMS, I think this is my favorite page I’ve ever built.

This page in the Sudanese context

One thing I should mention: South Sudan is one of the least connected places in the world.  This page is fairly light (as compared to the javascript-heavy Sudan project website), but even so, I would be surprised if it can be accessed by the radio program’s target audience.  Even a mobile website probably wouldn’t work for that audience who, if they’re using cell phones, are certainly using feature phones rather than smart phones and are not using them to browse for VOA feature content.

So the point is that when I was working on this, I wasn’t thinking of whether it was the right approach for reaching Southern Sudanese in South Sudan, because no digital approach would be the right approach.  But a page like this could reach diaspora populations (and, it must be admitted, the project’s outside funders).

South Sudan is one of the few places in the world about which I would make that statement, by the way.  The local context is just such that digital products simply aren’t going to be accessible right now for the majority of people.  But I’ll be keeping an eye on it, waiting for that to change.

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