Director of Community Engagement Steve Buttry for TBD.com was in class with us today!

Buttry started by showing us a social media project that the Star Tribune worked on in mid- to late-2007. It involved a slide show of pictures and sounds that depicted the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minn. The bridge used to cross over the Mississippi River.

He then pulled up a picture that showed the entire bridge, crumbled. Virtually every story (just over 100 in total) from everyone involved was included in this picture in the form of numbers on the picture. A viewer could just click on the number and hear/see that person’s account/experience of the event.

THAT’S good storytelling. THAT’S something I would want to read.

Another project he showed us was one the Des Moines Register worked on about the tornado that wiped out Parkersburg, Iowa. The piece, which can be seen here, collected many of the town’s security camera’s footage when the tornado struck. Certainly a fascinating (and breathtaking) way to see the damage for an outsider.

Next, he showed us satellite before-and-after photos of the recent Japan tsunami disaster that was posted on the New York Times Web site. That project, which was possibly the most striking, is here.

The Gigapan site he showed us, though, is something I could seriously look at all day long. Absolutely incredible. This is hilarious, too. This, too.

All of these were shown to us to prove that “if you do the biggest and best stuff” you will reap the rewards. Respect will be earned simply due to the clear effort is put into a project — if you put a lot of effort into a project, more likely than not, it shows and readers WILL take note.

Buttry closed with advising to always be curious — “If a question occurs to you, ask that question.”

Never say no for somebody else,” Buttry also recommends. There’s no reason to ever turn anyone down for a good quote.

Buttry’s blog, the Buttry Diary, can be found here.

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