Storytelling, Teaching

Last Words on Multimedia Journalism

This post was written as part of the course final for Multimedia Journalism WRI 430 at Point Loma Nazarene University. Students were asked to reflect on what they learned during the semester and assess how it might affect their future reporting.

Before taking this class, I would have had no problem admitting my intimidation of the term multimedia. Mainly because the idea is unknown and avoided in my school’s journalism program. Yet as a senior who is desperately trying to figure out how she is going to get a job, I knew I had to come to grips with this term.

I think what surprised me the most about this class were the situations I was challenged with and the areas I could thrive in. We completed eight projects in class and I am proud of all of them except one. My final product of my video project was less than ideal and I am pretty sure that is putting it mildly. I struggled with the video project because not only was it my first time behind a camera but I also had a hard time “seeing” the shots that can make a great clip. But while it was difficult, I am not completely discouraged. Throughout the somewhat awkward process I could already see the moments where I could improve and the shots I could have gotten. It’s humbling but it’s also encouraging to know I now have the know-how to improve.

Seeing social media sites, primarily Twitter, as key multimedia sites was one of the key highlights of the class. Learning not to tweet about your cat but instead participate in a dialogue that could discuss the future of journalism or the requirements of a young reporter is an area I really enjoyed. These sites are some of the largest pulses on the web right now and I strive to be a credible member of that conversation.

I was also surprised by the range multimedia journalism can cover. It is not simply video but blogging, metadata, RSS feeds and so much more. The possibilities found in the combination are endless. This is a new way to approach the reporting process. It is no longer about writing down what the source said but it is being able to take control of the story and decide what the right medium will be. Understanding what tools to use is an aspect of multimedia that is critical to grasp. For example, my video project was not video material. It potentially could have been, if I forced it, but overall I should have either done straight audio or written the story. However, I honestly feel that my audio slideshow that highlighted why people enjoyed Christmas lights was the right fit for that medium.

Multimedia still scares me somewhat now because after being taught some of the basics, I have little excuse not to start implementing what I’ve learned into my daily life. After being encouraged to live tweet an event, I now have the experience to use it in my own reporting. Yet I’m leaving this class when I finally feel like I am hitting a groove where I understand the lingo and can improve my weaknesses.

I have been taught to think of myself as a writer and this I think is a major fault in my school’s journalism major. My major contains almost no other multimedia elements but I hope this class can spur more interest and investment in multimedia teaching opportunities. I think it is critical to remind myself that I am a writer but as a journalist I need to be capable of storytelling that is not so limited. I am grateful for this class because it pushed me to go farther and helped break me out of a shell.