August 10, 2018 • Web

Like spinning plates

Website: The Whistleblower Project
Client: Government Accountability Project and the Society of Professional Journalists
Technologies used: HTML, CSS, ASP
Contributions: Built the entire site, and quickly.
Demo: The Whistleblower Project

Launched earlier in 2018, The Whistleblower Project — a collaboration between SPJ and the Government Accountability Project — came in hot.

Our deadline for launch was set in stone — the first day of Sunshine Week, March 12 — but less than a week before that date, a lot of the stories that would form the editorial backbone of the website weren’t yet finished, and the arrangement of those stories wasn’t defined. Most of the folks who were managing this end of things are journalists and editors with full plates who contributed as volunteers, and sometimes things just come in at the last minute when there’s only so much time to spare.

This is the part in a hackneyed reality show where the narrator bellows “Will they finish on time??” before cutting to commercial, even though they *always* somehow seem to finish with time and polish to spare once the show returns from commercial.

Well, so obviously did we. (Sorry for the unexciting twist.) The Whistleblower Project’s design, arrangement and editorial direction all achieved their final form at the exact same time, which isn’t really advisable, but keeping things simple and clean allowed me to build and iterate quickly and even work around the stories that ultimately never made it into the final project. Everything broke just the right way for an attractive, easy-to-use site that fulfilled its initial mission and is easy to iterate on so it keeps its value for Sunshine Weeks to come.

(Notice, also, the “25 Times Whistleblowers Changed History” feature. Notice how it’s a single-page list rather than a 25-page slideshow. Everybody hates slideshows, so I argued against making that feature a slideshow and will always ask anybody to reconsider when they have an inkling to make anything into a slideshow. You’re welcome.)