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.
As a senior broadcast journalism major, I thought I knew all I needed to know as I approach entering the field of multimedia journalism. However, PLNU’s multimedia journalism class changed that pretension and showed me I still have a lot to learn. Over the past three years, I became well versed in print, video, audio and photography in journalism, but I had never fully combined them online. This class showed me strategies to use and ways to plan a story that incorporate more than just these four elements.
In respects to the media I already knew, I found ways to improve my skills. In audio, I practiced storytelling without the use of a narrator; I let the characters tell the story themselves. I worked on creative camera work for my video project as well as capturing a compelling story, fully embracing the awkwardness of filming the homeless at Ocean Beach. By examining photos in class, I learned better composition and elements that tell a story (rule of thirds, three in a series, etc). The only area I feel I have made no improvement is in writing, but in this class, our focus was on learning new media, not really improving that aspect.
In four months, I learned the basics of blogging, podcasting, bookmarking and creating graphs, RSS feeds, maps and audio slideshows. Additionally, I built on my small knowledge of HTML and Adobe Photoshop. Through all of it, I was surprised to find how many media can be utilized in one story. I have a better idea of which element would be best to tell a story (even those pesky but dramatic audio slideshows). Because of this class, I have begun to let go of my reliance on video. I found that I can be even more creative when incorporating audio, pictures, maps, etc. On the other hand, this means that I have to do a lot more planning, for I need to know where to get either audio, video or pictures and then how to layout each as they wrap around the text. Overall, making the most of these media relieves the monotony of strictly print stories and allows the user to have more interaction with the piece.
Learning new media has forced me to think more critically about a topic. As we received each assignment (the map project, for example), I would have to find a story to fit that medium (in this case, something that is location oriented). My stories did not always fit the medium, but as I tried to work it out, I sort of discovered what kind of stories would be better. The best example of this is my audio slideshow project. My topic was a student who played tap guitar, a subject that would have been much better understood through video. However, the mistake caused me to probe deeper into audio slideshows to find what would be a more fitting topic, and I discovered that stories with less action and more emotion would be better.
Another important lesson I am taking away is the value of social media and RSS feeds. Before this semester, I thought Twitter was stupid. I was frustrated that we were going to be required to update ours at least twice a week. But as I did it, I found Twitter’s usefulness in event promotion or story updating. I am actually quite attached to my Twitter now and get much of my news by following CNN, New York Times, KPBS, etc. I also love Google Reader and am sure to make RSS feeds for the data I put online, whether through my website or Twitter accounts.
I truly believe that all journalism is heading online; broadcast and (more so) print are dying out. To me, it is essential to learn as much as I can about putting news online, and now I feel that I can put up every utilized media onto a website. I know that I have a great deal more to learn about HTML and website building, but my foundation, due to this class, has made me more comfortable trying new things, especially for the website I am developing (MyLomaMedia.com). Consequently, I have honestly been considering going into web producing for TV stations rather than on-camera reporting.