British journal the Guardian created an advert for their open journalism platform around the retelling of the Three Little Pigs in modern day. Screened for the first time on 29 February 2012, the ad opens up the premise of media as a two-way dialogue between outfits like The Guardian, and citizen journalists online.
In the style of a docudrama, the short begins with a devilishly boiling pot flashing into a digital newsroom where the editor is typing the headline “Big bad wolf boiled alive.” Next, a specialized police storms the third pig’s house to arrest him. The news of the incident (both the boiling and arrest) spreads and the fevered 24/7 news cycle takes clicks into action. Journalists, citizens, and everybody in between dig into the sea of facts, to offer their own opinion and conjecture about the case. The world is broken into either wolf or pig sympathizers as more information keeps coming.
The interactivity between the digital and physical world is expertly (and attractively) displayed making a particularly well told story told by tweet, headline, comment, and YouTube video.
Even philosophical questions like “Is killing an intruder ever justified?” pop into the video. These questions are then actively discussed by the people both in and outside of the newsroom.
Is this the right path for journalism? I’m not entirely sure. At points in the video, I almost felt like laughing. All characters were taking the case too seriously. There’s a difference between the big bad wolf receiving proper defense in trial and starting a riot over mortgage rates. Sometimes people get too caught up in the 24/7 battering of instant news from every angle that the entire thing becomes trivial. In a scene where a digital “huff and puff” simulation is shown to prove if the wolf could “scientifically” blow the houses down, I couldn’t help but see their “thoroughness” as absurd.
The Guardian had to pick the story of the Three Little Pigs for a reason, and they had to do so full aware of the “magic” needed to make the children’s tale function. Reopening it as a modern case is a sensitive subject. It makes for a good ad; I’m just not sure the ad favors open journalism.