I’m pleased to say that VQR’s Assignment Afghanistan has been nominated for a National Magazine Award for Digital Media in the Multimedia Package category. Assignment Afghanistan is the masterwork of Elliott D. Woods with major production assistance from Jesse Dukes and Bluecadet Interactive.
Elliott is a rare breed of reporter. Not only is he willing to put himself in harm’s way, but he employs every method of modern storytelling to reach the broadest possible audience. His long-form essays, his stunning photographs, his gripping videos, and amazing audio point the way toward a new era of fast-moving, stream-lined multimedia reporting—an era in which a single outstanding reporter can do what formerly required an entire team.
Audio and multimedia producer Jesse Dukes, working with his Big Shed colleague Shea Shackelford, turned Elliott’s audio and photos into stunning slideshows. The crack team at Bluecadet Interactive created an interactive time line and map function, and devised a simple tool that will allow Elliott to add new content from the field. Also, they created a public forum, using the same interactive tool, so that readers with first-hand knowledge of Afghanistan can upload their own stories and photos. The site already features content by American troops, an Afghan translator, an Afghan journalist, and the co-director of the NGO Imagine Asia.
This nomination also marks the second year in a row that VQR has been nominated for a Digital Ellie. Last year, we were nominated—and won—in the News Reporting category for Jason Motlagh’s gold standard story “Sixty Hours of Terror” about the Mumbai terror attacks. Not only are these honors welcome recognition of VQR’s efforts to forge a new kind of storytelling for the digital era, but they also reveal the remarkable talent that exists among the student body at the University of Virginia. Jason Motlagh graduated from UVA in 2004, Elliott Woods in 2008, and Jesse Dukes in 1999.
In the coming year, Elliott will be adding significantly to the content of the site—as will, I hope, a growing number of people with on-the-ground experience in Afghanistan. Indeed, by the time the awards luncheon for the Digital Ellies is held in New York on March 16, Elliott will be back in Afghanistan. He’s on his way now. So visit the Assignment Afghanistan website now and sign up to follow Elliott’s movements on Facebook and Twitter.