In the piece Coming Home a Different Person, the Washington Post tells the story of Army Spec. Robert Warren, a soldier who had nearly the entire left side of his skull removed by doctors to prevent further brain damage after a rocket propelled grenade exploded near his truck in Afghanistan. The multimedia package includes video, audio, and images to tell Warren’s struggle from the time of his injury to the removal of his head staples after surgery and therapy.
The video clips provide the foundation for this piece, which are interwoven with still photographs to tell the complete story. The photographs introduce the extent of his injury by showing Warren’s head injuries, x-rays and physical therapy sessions, leaving the audio and video pieces to fill in the gaps. The video clips help introduce the victim to the viewer by showing him with his family at home and in the hospital speaking with doctors. You can really get a feel for the personal extent of the injury in terms of how it has disrupted life with his wife and daughter, to the physical extent of his injury in terms of expert advice and surgical procedures.
After introducing Warren in the first 15-second clip, the piece moves on to an audio clip over diagrams and x-rays to help piece together both the technical and the emotional sides of the story. Warren explains that it was 2-3 weeks after his injury before he could completely remember anything, including his daughter. His ability to listen and comprehend speech were also affected. Here, it is important to note that Post workers focused on explaining Warren’s injuries in a way that audiences would understand; they focused on everyday activities that Warren couldn’t do, instead of specific medical details that may be too confusing for the average viewer to understand.
The overall structure of the piece is appropriate: a compelling, complete story told in under five minutes with expert advice as well as personal narration. Technical details such as appropriate names and titles are also present. Most importantly, the ending is perfectly chosen. After all of his obvious trauma, Warren finishes with, “it’s my job, and I have no problems with my job. Whether it costs me my life, or a very bad injury it doesn’t bother me at all”. Not many people can go through the same experience without bitter feelings, which is why his response is so unique. By placing this response at the end his words, actions, and emotions are highlighted one final time.
There is also an image slideshow that nicely compliments the video. Even though there are still images in the video, the gallery of 37 pictures supplements the piece by going more in depth with Warren’s story. Pictures of his home, his family, and his hobbies help build a character for the viewer to empathize with. One to two-sentence captions for each photograph help place it appropriately in Warren’s story. The photographs help show more of his daily life outside of his injury, showing the full scope of activity in his life post-injury.