This piece won Gold in two categories at the 2017 Digital Publishing Awards – Best Feature Article: Short and Best Social Storytelling
The 12-part Crichton Farm Instagram series came to be following a long conversation between Jana Pruden and myself in late September.
A few years ago, while still at The Edmonton Journal, Jana wrote a powerful long form story about a family tormented by an abusive father. The mother in this story, Holly Crichton, recently reconnected with Jana. Holly had written a book about her years of abuse and was asking Jana to introduce her at the launch in northern Alberta.
Jana knew the trip held story potential, but was unsure of how communicate the weight of the narrative without linking back to her original story. She gave me a call we brainstormed for the better part of an hour.
After discussing several platform treatments including live video, we settled on Instagram. The format afforded Jana the space to give our readers background, while also capturing the beauty of rural Alberta. It was the perfect way to introduce Globe readers to the family and the stunning scenery.
Jana is fascinated by narrative form and I'm eager to experiment with new storytelling formats. We made a great team.
Instagram offered us chance to play around with pacing and structure. Jana shot the entire series on her iPhone over the course of a couple of days.
Part one of the story is below, and you can explore the whole project here.
Keep and eye out for more series in the future.
The Crichton Farm, part 1 of 12, by @jana_pruden. The first time I saw the farm it was winter. Bitter northern Alberta cold, with air that stings your cheeks and fingers and can feel sharp as a knife's blade. I spent two years convincing Holly to let me come and see her. "It's important," I told her. "It's important people know the truth." Eventually she said yes. I flew north to Grande Prairie, then left the city and drove across the Wapiti bridge, through the winding and rolling roads to the Crichton farm. When I arrived, we made soup together, chopping carrots and onions in the kitchen. I looked out the window at the pale winter land and sky while the heat and moisture of the soup filled the air. We sat like that until we were ready to talk about that day. The day her husband Sandy died, and everything that led up to it. #TheCrichtonFarm