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Dispatches: Creating a Multimedia Site for Our Second-Annual Photo Issue

News and notes from Pacific Standard staff and contributors.
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This past March, Pacific Standard tried something we'd never done before. To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the print magazine, our editors contacted writers and public figures from across the United States to describe the shifts their communities were experiencing following Donald Trump's election and inauguration as president.

We knew the feature package—which we ended up calling "Postcards Across America"—was significant in scope, so we decided to expand upon our own definition of what a magazine could be in order to accommodate it. In the months leading up to the March launch, our Web and design teams worked together to produce a completely unique and self-contained version of the site, one that we felt effectively translated the delight of flipping through any of our print issues into a digital environment.

Leading Pacific Standard's first multimedia feature effort, our Web team became well aware of the risks and rewards associated with going beyond the familiar experience we could offer readers through our standard content management system. Custom digital features are often very expensive and time-consuming for a staff as small as ours to try frequently, but using this format for some of our more ambitious projects—often with external funding—allows us to think creatively about not only how a story should be told but also how it can be read.

This past week, after the success of our first digital package and with help from Magnum Photos and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Pacific Standard teased a six-part international photo feature titled "A Journey Through Contested Lands," set to go live in early August. Although the package, which runs through our entire August 2018 print issue, doesn't particularly break new ground in print, it's our second-ever bespoke digital project—and arguably our biggest and best.

We teamed six world-renowned photographers with six writers to explore the struggle for land rights in indigenous communities across the globe, from Honduras to Azerbaijan to Borneo. As the photographers began sending us images from their assigned locations, our editorial and design teams built wireframes, animations, and sketches to better illustrate each region's unique and nuanced story under this umbrella theme. As we prepare to launch these stories in full, we encourage you to sign up for email updates here to stay connected with our current work and all that's to come.

This dispatch originally appeared in The Lede, the weekly Pacific Standard email newsletter for premium members. The Lede gives premium members greater access to Pacific Standard stories, staff, and contributors in their inbox every week. While helping to support journalism in the public interest, members also receive a print magazine subscription, early access to feature stories, and access to an ad-free version of