Thursday, August 13, 2009

So You Want to Be A Multimedia Journalist?

Last week, I moderated a panel at the National Association of Black Journalists annual conference entitled “Becoming a Multimedia Journalist.” Anyone who has read this blog on a regular basis knows that multimedia journalism – along with B2B/trade journalism – is a passion and a calling for me.

The session was designed to show attendees all the tools and techniques available to take reporting to the next level. Panelists Dr. Sybril Bennett of Belmont University and Washington Post reporter Theola Labbe-DeBose (photo, right, courtesy of Dr, Syb) offered tips on the technology and tools out there to make the complete multimedia journalist.

The first question people always ask is what is multimedia journalism? Of course, I Googled this question, and came up with this answer: A multimedia story is some combination of text, still photographs, video clips, audio, graphics and interactivity presented on a Web site in a nonlinear format in which the information in each medium is complementary, not redundant.” --Jane Stevens, journalist & educator

I then offered three examples of what I thought were good displays of multimedia. Example one was a large series done by the Washington Post last March on the state of Washington, D.C. schools. It was a seven-part series that included an interactive map on the District’s schools, photos, profiles of teachers, Q&A transcripts and reader comments.

Example two came from Vanity Fair magazine. I am a long-time subscriber of the magazine and have been following its coverage of the Bernie Madoff scandal. As a subscriber, I also get access to the magazine’s web site, which delivered seven powerful and poignant videos of victims of Madoff speaking out about the scandal.

Example three comes from my own company, Aviation Week. The Paris Air Show, held every other year, is the largest air show in the world. This year, Aviation Week had its usual group of reporters and editors covering the show. But we also created a special web site that contained all our coverage, including stories, blog posts, photos and videos. We also had a Facebook fan page and Tweeted all our coverage from the show.

So how does one become a multimedia journalist? Every journey is different, but mine was a mix of free and low-cost learning opportunities, insightful and helpful blogs, NABJ and social media gurus to help lead me. Below are some sites that can help:

Mashable – this is at the top of my Google Reader. It has served as my social media Sherpa, and I always get tips that help me do my job better.

Media Shift – this is a blog sponsored by PBS and its tag line says it all: Your Guide To The Digital Media Revolution.

The Multimedia Maven blog – this is a must-read from panelist Dr. Syb, full of helpful videos and tips.

Podcamp – these series of free or low-cost unconferences give you the tools to create, edit and produce your own podcasts. I attended Podcamp Philly and I’ve been off to the races ever since!!

I hope this has helped. Please keep following this blog, because I intend to continue posting and sharing whatever knowledge I can pass along. And if you attended my NABJ session, I thank you.

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