In today’s digital age, conventional style of journalism has made news reading an uninteresting activity for younger news consumers, a problem widely recognized even by professional journalists and news literacy academics. However, news organizations are gradually adapting techniques of digital platforms such as social media in presenting news stories. Al Jazeera’s “Graphic Novel: Motherhood in crisis” is explainable of such a transforming face of news media.
The authors of this feature story successfully present the struggles faced by pregnant women in Sierra Leone in accessing basic healthcare facilities with childbirth often jeopardizing the health of mothers and the newborns.
All narratives resemble a story format that is widely popular on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. Structured like a comic book, each slide contains information in a chronological order with animated characters based on narrators and other people engaged in their experiences. Dialogue boxes similar to the ones found in comic books also present the responses quoted by the narrators of the stories.
Nevertheless, the most appealing factor of this style of graphic storytelling is the manner in which the authors manage to get creative with content and maintain photographic anonymity of victims of sexual assaults, which is a standard journalistic ethic. For instance, in the second story about a woman named Heela who identifies as a rape survivor and had to face pregnancy subsequent to that traumatic experience, her actual face is never revealed. In one of the slides showing a picture of the nurse who treated her, the graphic designer adds the layer of Heela’s animated character next to the nurse’s picture, hence concealing her identity.