Four months ago, I met the first students in a new multimedia journalism course at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California. Today, I submitted their final grades. I’ll be writing more about teaching multimedia storytelling in forthcoming blog posts, but as a close to a great semester I wanted to highlight some of their parting thoughts.
I was surprised that there is no one-size-fits-all story when it comes to multimedia. What do you mean a city hall meeting about the budget can’t be an audio slideshow? It could if focused on the emotional tension, speeches, and people affected by the outcomes.
To make a great multimedia story takes time. So much time. I now know most of the techs that work in the lab by name, because I’m begging them for five more minutes while my files compress, right at midnight, when they want to go home. And I know that I’ll be pursuing a future with multimedia, and that I’m not, or ever, done learning.
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 account now and get much of my news by following CNN, New York Times, KPBS, etc.
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.
As I look back on everything we’ve managed to cover, I’m actually both excited and discouraged. I’m excited because I’ve been able to dip my toes in the water for projects like audio and video, but I’m discouraged at the realization of how little I know about multimedia one semester away from graduation and job applications.
Yet as I’ve navigated the puzzling and at times delightful maze of this course, I’ve discovered my own definition of the term. Multimedia journalism is essentially journalism in its fullest form.
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.
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.