Across the country, patients are being treated through the use of central line catheters. Central line catheters are small tubes that run straight to the heart. These tubes deliver medication that is distributed straight into the bloodstream. The problem with these life-saving devices is that many catheters become infected, thus infecting the patient. There are solutions to this problem, so why are they still occurring?
The article entitled Do No Harm addresses this question. It comes from a series from Vox that investigates fatal medial harm. The article itself answers many questions about how cases of infected catheters can be resolved. However, for this particular case study, the format and elements of the story are what makes this article interesting.
GOAL: This case study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the article in terms of getting its point across in the format it was presented.
Text formatting is one of the first features that audiences notice about a story. It can either make or break the entire story. If the text format does not appeal to readers in the beginning, many will stop reading altogether.
For this particular story, Vox chose to use the style of “chunking”. Kivi Leroux Miller says this about the definition of chucking: “when you chunk text, you break down what may have started as one really long article into smaller, manageable, more easily understood blocks of text. Your goal should be to create chunks of information that can stand on their own, but that also fit within the larger context of your website”.
Chunking looks like this:
In the case of Do No Harm, chunking was an absolute necessity. There were many parts to the overall story. Breaking down the text made the entire story easier to read.
Do No Harm is formatted similarly to . Both stories are longer in length. Both stories breakdown the overall story into much smaller stories. Overall, both stories use chunking to their advantage. Without chunking, these stories would be almost un-readable.
The author also included quotes from the story in large, highlighted letters.
This small touch added so much to the overall story. These quotes were main points that the author wanted to emphasize. They also broke up long chunks of text that could have gotten boring to read. The quotes gave the audiences’ eyes a break.
Use of Pictures, Videos, and Audio
The use of pictures, videos, and audio is not a new concept in storytelling. Pictures, videos, and audio enhance the story. They give the story a visual to help audiences along.
For this story, the use of pictures and videos was well done. For many stories, less is more. Do No Harm applied this concept to the story and it worked quite well. The story began with two pictures of catheters. Over the course of the story, the author included videos, GIFs, links to a photo essay, and other pictures. The audience never felt overwhelmed by the amount of media placed in the story. It was all placed strategically to help further the story.
The photo essay was a “behind the scene” look at the making of Do No Harm. Although it was not an integral part of the story, it did enhance the overall feeling of the story. Audiences went on a different journey with the author in the photo essay. The story became more emotional after going through the photo essay. You felt like you were going through the project with the author. The addition of the photo essay was a great addition. The photo essay did its job.
The one single GIF that was used in the story was cool, to say the least. The GIF was basically a video showing readers how a catheter works. Obviously, there is great part of the U.S. population that is not knowledgeable in the medical field. This awesome little feature helped explain a crucial part of the story. For those of us who like visuals, this GIF was the perfect addition to the story.
Maps are tools that storytellers use when they want to give a visual representation to data. Some maps are plain. Others are interactive and exciting. Some stories crave maps. Others are fine without the use of maps.
The use of a map in this story was borderline genius. Audiences did not expect a map to be placed in the middle of the story, yet there it was. What made the map better were the features on it. You could click the map and check your local hospitals to see how often catheter infections occurred. You could even filter the hospitals by rate and cases/days.
This interactive map was very similar to the interactive map used by the Washington Post in their investigations of homicides. It also had features that allowed users to filter their searches and zoom into the map to get a better look at the location.
Many stories online now include different types of social media. Some include links to Facebook sites or embedded tweets. Some stories are desperate for the use of social media; others not so much.
Do No Harm did not integrate social media into the story as one of its main sources for storytelling. However, it did use social media once and that seemed to be enough. After the introduction story was told, a YouTube video was available to be watched. This video was basically the entire Do Not Harm story condensed into an eleven minute video. The YouTube video dug deeper into the emotions of the family who was at the center of this story.
Although this YouTube video was just one small piece of the story, it did gives audiences a second option for learning about the story. The video gave a wonderful recap of what the entire written article was trying to say. If you did not want to spend time reading, you could watch the story in video form. For those who watched the video and read the story, the video gave life to the family that was involved. You heard the mother’s voice and watched home videos of the little girl who passed away. The YouTube video enhanced the story for those who did both.
Overall, I thought this article was very well written. The writing was easy to read and follow. There was a simplicity in the overall format of the article. Every now and then there would be a picture or a video, but it was not overwhelming like some stories. I think the simplicity of the story’s format was appealing.
Towards the end of the article, there was a side box with a link where healthcare professionals could share their stories with Vox. However, the link was broken. It led to a page that was out of order. This was a missed opportunity for Vox. The entire purpose of this article was to make the public aware of fatal medical harms that could be prevented. It would have been easy for someone to click the link and share their story with Vox. But because the link was broken, Vox is missing out on many people’s stories that could, ultimately, lead to a change in our hospitals.
In the end, I truly enjoyed reading and evaluating this article. It was interesting both in content and in format. If I have learned one lesson from this case study, it is this: less is more when it comes to storytelling.