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Eleanor Bell shoots in Africa.Over the course of 18 months, journalists from the Center for Public Integrity and ICIJ, working with more than a dozen reporters across Africa, collected data, documents, video footage, and largely unheard witness accounts that uncovered links between Australian-listed mining companies and allegations of negligence, violence, environmental law-breaking, and other behaviors that would never be tolerated in better-regulated jurisdictions.

Gold fields in MaliWith an abundance of rich materials, the team faced a significant challenge: how to present it all in a compelling way that would allow audiences to explore a variety of content as they engaged in a much larger narrative. The end result is an immersive multimedia feature incorporating strong human stories with stunning visuals, rare documents and innovative data analysis to reveal the extensive and sometimes deadly impact of Australian mining companies in 33 African nations.

Here, multimedia editor Eleanor Bell and news developer Chris Zubak-Skees discuss the making of the Fatal Extraction multimedia project.

Q. Why did you choose this storytelling mode for the story?

Narrative arcEleanor Bell: Initially, we intended to package our Africa multimedia into four separate video stories broken down by country. During filming, it became clear listening to our sources, on-camera and off, that there was a great deal of crossover in their experiences dealing with the practices of Australian-listed mining companies operating in Africa.

Lead reporter Will Fitzgibbon had uncovered a mountain of primary source documents and recordings. We also had a powerful data story, hundreds of hours of footage and multiple memory cards of images from some of the most visually stunning places on earth.Fatal Extraction code. These artifacts could be coerced into a video timeline or added as sound files, video stories and documents to a traditional text piece. But with so much unique material, there was an opportunity to allow the content to tell the story.

Our aim was to integrate all the elements into a “digital” experience that would deliver a compelling story without sacrificing the nature of the material. In short, we wanted to deliver these stories in their most organic form. We looked to NPR’s Borderlands and Demolished projects for inspiration. These are highly visual, engaging narratives that encapsulate the idea that stories can be “of the web and not just on the web.”

Chris Zubak-Skees: We could have packaged this with a written narrative, but we wanted the multimedia to tell the story, not supplement the story.

Color-coded elements. Adele Faray-Mwayuma Ducks Number of deaths in Africa


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