About This Project

Crisis in our Backyards is a multimedia project by Tom Bunting (that's me!), a journalist focused on covering politics and the media through ambitious stories and analysis in digital formats. It was created as a capstone project at Emerson College's School of Communications, where Tom is graduating with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Political Communications.

Crisis in our Backyards attempts to explore the declining state of local news coverage in America and its relationship with our changing culture and technology. This project operates from the belief that good local news coverage is important to American society and democracy. It explores the existential crisis that local news faces, along with the outlets and people attempting to build equitable and better local news in America.

The project incorporates a number of multimedia techniques allowed by the Internet, including video, interactive timeline and charts, and immersive web design. That said, I tried very hard to use these elements only when they better served the story I was trying to tell, not in place of strong writing, analysis, and research. I believe that the Internet allows for exciting new forms of storytelling, but cannot compensate for weak journalistic fundamentals. I hope I accomplished this difficult balancing act.

About the Author

Tom Bunting is a journalist and writer focused on covering the media and politics through stories and analysis in a variety of multimedia formats. He's a recent graduate of Emerson College, where he graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Political Communications.

At Emerson, Tom was the News Director of Emerson Independent Video, the nation's largest student-run production company. At EIV, he led the expansion of EIVNews.com, helping build it into Emerson's biggest home for national news coverage. He produced the organization's coverage of the 2017 Inauguration and led the production team for EIV News Presents: The 2016 Election, a live four-hour in-studio television special covering the 2016 Election with live reporting from four states. Last year, he was an Executive Producer, writer, and editor on EIV News Presents: The Boston Marathon Bombings: Five Years Later, an award-winning documentary that aired on local television channels across New England. He's also spent a semester producing the network's flagship live weekly national newscast and was the Politics Editor of EIV News.com.

Tom was an Investigative Intern at NBC Boston's Emmy-award winning Investigative Unit. Before that, he was a Public Affairs Intern at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. More examples of his work and contact information is available on his website.

About the Process

This was a very intensive project to create, and was produced during a very difficult period of time for me personally. I'd like to thank my partner Ilina for her constant support. My professor Gino Canella provided me with a lot of useful guidance. Everyone I interviewed (or tried to interview!) was incredibly generous with their time. And, finally, every author included in the bibliography gave me a lot of fantastic material to build off. I am grateful for all of these people.

I used a number of really awesome tools to create this project. This website was designed from scratch in Webflow. If I was feeling really fancy, I would sketch out page designs in Apple Notes on my iPad. I wrote and edited everything in Ulysses, and used Bear for research notes and interview preparation. Speaking of interviews, TapeACallPro and Trint were both essential for recording and transcribing. All of my research material went into Keep It for organizing, and I annotated and read everything with PDF Viewer.

Production on "How Craigslist Killed The Newspaper" was done almost exclusively with the Adobe Creative Cloud suite. I used Illustrator and Photoshop to create assets, animated them in After Effects, recorded voice overs in Audition, and brought everything together with Premiere. I filmed the slow motion videos on my Panasonic GH4, and recorded the VO on my Zoom H4n.

The timeline in "A Brief History of How The Internet Changed Journalism" was created with the incredible Timeline.JS tool from the Knight Lab at Northwestern University. Of all the tools I used, this one took the least tinkering to create what I imagined.

All data visualization was created with Datawrapper.de. I'd like to thank the creators of all of these essential tools for making this experience manageable and for keeping me sane.