About the Project:
Continental Drift is an ambitious multimedia documentary project made in partnership with the renowned photography cooperative Magnum Photos and MSNBC.com examining the worst migrant crisis in human history. By 2016, there were more than 60 million people across the globe on the run for their lives, stateless and scared, fleeing war and persecution. “We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres declared. To address the complexity and global scope of the story, we dispatched ten Magnum photographers around the world, each to tell a unique story of regional displacement, exile, conflict, persecution and struggle. Together, they tell a much larger and more nuanced narrative of this unprecedented moment in what amounts to a chapter in human history.
We launched the project with an introduction (which is what you see here) using Magnum’s rich photography archives from WWII and the 20th century to map out the ripple effects of the socio-economic and political moments in world history that led us to today and places the current crisis in historical context. In subsequent chapters; Moises Saman examined the route with which a flood of migrants arrived in Europe, Alex Majoli went to China to follow the largest annual migration on Earth, Mark Power spent time in Jordan’s refugee camps, Lorenzo Meloni spent months at the gateway of African migration in Libya, Larry Towell spent time on Mexico’s southern border, Matt Black followed the distribution of aid from the International Humanitarian City in Dubai to people in need in South Sudan, Bieke Depoorter visited with families in their homes in western Europe who had volunteered their homes to new migrants, Newsha Tavakolian spent time with five displaced Sudanese athletes who came to be known as “Team Refugee” living in a camp in Kenya as they trained for the Olympic games, Michael Christopher Brown traveled to the Marshall Islands where he looked at how an environment in crises is threatening an entire culture and its people and finally we conclude with a chapter by Jérôme Sessini on Sanctuary Cities under threat in the United States. (Links to selected chapters can be found at the bottom of this page).
Over the course of a year, I led a team of designers, writers, editors, data visualization journalists, engineers and developers to create a unique, immersive digital feature presentation consisting of eleven hard-coded chapters on a free-standing microsite for MSNBC.com. The result was an award-winning, stand out example of forward-thinking journalism for the modern age. We succeeded in raising awareness for the issues and engaging a public discourse on severely under-reported stories. Magnum Photos approached me with the idea and together our teams worked for a year to make it a reality. Magnum produced the photography in the field and my team oversaw all aspects of the production and storytelling. I worked closely with the editorial, design, development, marketing/sales and finance teams to implement a successful strategy for the project. We launched one chapter every month over the course of a year as the project evolved. We also designed a coordinated social media campaign with the launch of each new chapter across multiple platforms growing a far-reaching and engaged audience internationally.
January 2016 - November 2016
Photographs by Magnum Photos (Moises Saman, Alex Majoli, Mark Power, Lorenzo Meloni, Larry Towell, Matt Black, Bieke Depoorter, Newsha Tavakolian, Michael Christopher Brown, and Jérôme Sessini
Written by Tony Dokoupil & Amanda Sakuma
Lead Design by Meagan Choi, Mina Liu & Peter Chao
NPPA, First Place, Documentary Multimedia Package, 2017
PDN Photo Annual, Multimedia winner, 2017
POYi, Third Place, Visual Editor of The Year, 2017