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The best stories we read, watched, and listened to in 2016

The Storytelling Studio launched earlier this year, in July. Throughout our first months, we’ve prioritized sharing internal and external story inspiration within our team and across Vox Media. We have an open inspiration Slack room where colleagues can share stories, as well as a shared Pinterest board. We look forward to a bi-weekly design inspiration meeting to talk about the stories that caught our attention.

Below are the stories our team enjoyed the most this year, in their own words — shoutout to Bloomberg for the idea.


The Fine Line: What Makes Simone Biles the World’s Best Gymnast, New York Times

I admire restraint in lots of creative fields– fine art, illustration, design and it's truly a skill to say a lot with a little. This piece combines video, quotes, technical animations and minimal explainer text but still holds the gravity of how amazing athleticism is. The design is simple, the copy probably doesn't exceed 300 words, and it's a great experience on desktop as well as mobile. I find myself referencing it often.

Brittany Holloway-Brown, Designer

I love the Olympics. I am, admittedly, a bigger fan of Winter than I am of Summer, but I always find gymnastics to be fascinating. As a visual learner, I enjoyed the animated step-by-step breakdown of the individual moves that I could progress through at my own pace. I often find myself getting distracted before making it all the way through longer narrative pieces, but that was certainly not the case in this instance. I made it all the way through this piece. Twice.

Casey Miller, Full Stack Engineer


Blue Feed, Red Feed, The Wall Street Journal

Content bubbles and biases were one the the most prominent and consistent narrative threads that defined this year. The Red Feed, Blue Feed project made that more concrete just by laying out the opposing views side-by-side. It is one page that has become a part of my morning news routine. It is so simple, yet so effective.

Kavya Sukumar, Senior Full Stack Engineer


When I’m Mistakenly Put on an Email Chain, Should I Hit ‘Reply All’ Asking to Be Removed?, New York Times

2016 in a single word.

Yuri Victor, Principal Engineer


Make it Stop, Boston Globe

This is a strong visualization of the aftermath of the assault weapon ban's expiration. I also appreciate how easy it is to take action by emailing or tweeting at the six senators.

– Katie O’Dowd, Project Manager


Web notifications, The Guardian Mobile Innovations Lab

I wish we had played more in the lock screen. I love what The Guardian's Mobile Innovation Lab has been doing this year with push notifications through the Olympics and election. It's a visual and immediate means of reaching our audience at critical moments that we've so far untapped.

Lauren Rabaino, Executive Director of Storytelling Studio and Brand Development


O.J.: Made in America, Directed by Ezra Edelman

This is a 7.5 hour documentary, edited without narration, on a story many of us lived through and asked ourselves, what more is there to know about the “trial of the century?” This is an amazing feat of storytelling, using countless interviews, archival footage, photography, music and impeccable editing to illuminate not only O.J.'s narrative but how his story fits into the larger narrative of America. Its themes of race, class, gender, celebrity, sports and policing are skillfully presented to make an unassailable case that only us, only the U.S., could create a story like this. It's proof that most of what we live through we don't fully understand until years later, when someone as talented as Ezra Edelman can weave together what everyone perceived to be true.

Kainaz Amaria, Design Director


Radiolab Presents: More Perfect, Produced by WNYC

Okay so this isn’t one story, it’s a series of stories. It’s also a podcast. “More Perfect” explores Supreme Court cases and tells stories about the way cases are deliberated and the affect they have on people far and wide.

Kelsey Scherer, Senior Designer