Gladeye works its magic for Huffington Post Highline’s ‘massive, magisterial’ big pharma expose

Whether it’s the New York Times’ oft-mentioned Snowfall, Bloomberg Businessweek’s brilliant data visualisations, the story about the rise of Luis Surarez on ESPN, the custom features of Pitchfork, the clever comics of the two Tobys on The Wireless’ and many more besides, digital media offers a big toolbox for storytellers. And local shop Gladeye has played a part in another impressive effort, helping to develop a 15-part online expose—or, as it’s being called, “docuserial”—called ‘The Miracle Industry’ with Huffington Post Highline. 

The series, which started this week and will roll out in 15 chapters, one per day for 15 days, covers the criminality of big pharma and has been described as “a new kind of experience for readers: one that combines the comprehensiveness of a book with the interactivity and immediacy of the web” (check out a letter from the editor’s here). It was written by veteran journalist and New York Times bestseller Steven Brill (who also started Court TV) and the Huffington Post, which is aiming for the highbrow market with its longform-focused Highline, says it’s the most ambitious journalistic endeavour it has undertaken.

“It’s been a huge undertaking” says Gladeye chief executive Tarver Graham, who says the team has been doing 15 hour days in the lead up to launch (and the war room continues to hum as each new chapter goes live at 11pm NZ time). “You can’t work on a piece like this and not get involved. The team are all pretty sleep deprived though so it’s doubly emotional. We’re personally invested now.” 

After Graham was introduced to the Highline team and met up with them in New York to show some work, it developed a prototype and gave Gladeye the biggest project it had. It began design of the project in August. And while he says the pace of things has meant a few compromises, “we’re all pretty happy with where we got to on the time available and we have a lot more up our sleeve”. 

The story is illustrated throughout by Gladeye creatives Pablo Espinosa and Victor Antonelli and all up there are about 60 illustrations and interactive data visualisations. 

“These guys are truly global talent and they’ve really excelled themselves here,” says Graham.

He says Brill wanted to let readers drill into the details of this compelling story and Graham says everyone involved wanted to try something new with the format. 

“We’re just really excited to be in on this kind of undertaking. It’s very much what Gladeye is about. Not to mention the thrill of taking our work, on such a worthwhile project, to a global audience.” 

Huffington Post Highline executive editor, Rachel Morris says in a release: “We have worked with other leading web design firms in the US, but what we liked about Gladeye is that they have developers and designers from many different backgrounds, like film, mathematics and design. It’s not hard to find a company that can do strong technical work, but it’s so rare to find people who can engage with really complex subject matter and come up with such innovative ways of telling a story. The response here to what they have produced has been amazing.” 

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