The importance of multi-modal reporting in the news industry’s digital shift

9 06 2011
Editor’s note: As a member of AAJA’s 2011 Voices Program, I’ll be covering their national journalism convention (this year in Detroit) come August. But before then, I’ll be partaking in some pre-convention training at Poynter’s News University. I figured sharing some of the jewels of wisdom I come across on my site will provide a great resource for others.

Thinking like a multimedia reporter (strengths and weaknesses in each platform). It goes beyond being able to write a story for print, and produce video and interactive maps online. A journalist fluent in multimedia should be able to create multiple platforms that play up to each medium’s strengths.

Regardless of platform, all reporting require the basics: the facts (who, what, when, where, why and how), sources and newsworthiness (a reason to listen/read/watch). But how these essentials are packaged will look differently to each platform. A short rundown:

For broadcasting, you want to use a strong visual or audio grab to get the viewer’s attention. And unlike print/text platforms, you want to convey one idea per sentence in a style that feels conversational. Using a video clip for television and audio piece for radio in your story will boost its credibility and make it more interesting. The biggest weakness for broadcasting is that complex issues can be extremely difficult to summarize or simplify in a 60 to 90 second spot.

For print, it’s all about the lede and inverted pyramid. When people pick up a newspaper, the photo (if you have one), headline, lede and nut graf will be the main factors considered when deciding whether or not to read the entire story. Using words that utilize vivid detail and the senses (sight, sound, touch, smell and taste) can sometimes create a much stronger visual than a picture or video can. The strength for this platform can also be its weakness. Often times, words sometimes fall short to completely explain something that a video or audio platform can do better at.

For online, two approaches are used: the short summary for scanners and the online exclusives for information diggers. The first option means, using the inverted pyramid approach for short bursts of info. Or if it’s a longer story, breaking it up into bolded subheads or bullets are the way to go. Scanners tend to just read headlines and the first graf of a story and move on. For online exclusives, news packages including interactive maps, links, Flash and audio-visual elements are commonly used. Technical aspects like content management systems and having an online package outlive changes in technology pose a challenge for this platform.


I almost got punched in the face by a homeless man

17 11 2009

"People don't realize how close they are to becoming homeless," Sid Underwood (right), 19, said. Both Underwood and Leonard Costa (left), 19, have both been homeless for six years. Underwood said she has become accustomed to street life.

…but I was saved by a former street kid who was with me (note to self: don’t ask personal questions to an intoxicated homeless man that is about twice your size).

Last week I spent an accumulated 14 hours on the streets of downtown Spokane to talk to homeless teens. After spending a week researching on the subject, I thought it was about time that I got face to face time with the actual subjects at hand.

Needless to say, appearances can be deceiving. One lesson I learned from this whole experience is that you really can’t judge homeless teens based on appearances.

They might look intimidating or rough around the edges, but during my time talking to youth living on the streets, they were for the most part open to talk about their experiences.

The past week and a half have been an eye-opening experience for me. After seeing homeless teens see their world, a lot of things in my life seem trivial.

I’ll never take for granted the luxury of sleeping in a warm, soft bed every night.

Click here to read my article.

Dog maestro, space travel, search for the best espresso and other adventures

9 06 2009

I have a growing appreciation for classical music. I like concerts that feel big, yet have an intimate feel to it. Most of all, I’m a sucker for anything free.

So when a family member of whom I’m staying with took me to Music Under the Stars in Pasadena that offered all of the above, it was nothing short of wonderful (more pictures of the event can be seen on my Flickr).

Hispanic-flavored entertainment were plentiful during the preshow leading up to Music Under the Stars, which took place on the steps of Pasadena's city hall, June 7.

The free concert took place right on the steps to Pasadena’s City Hall (which is beautiful in sunset), with Pasadena POPS and other bands, choirs and musical talent.

Aside from a few classical pieces, the Pasadena POPS played a variety of selections ranging from West Side Story, Louis Armstrong, Schindler’s List and Superman.

Music Director Rachael Worby was a mixture of seriousness and fun (she even let Target’s mascot direct the orchestra in one of the songs). They played through the evening just as the sun was shining its last golden rays over the hall steps.

It was a great way to finish of my first weekend in L.A.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve explored the Griffith Observatory (excellent museum inside about space), Hollywood (where I had my first star sighting), UCLA, several coffee shops, great hole-in-the-wall restaurants and Silver Lake, to name a few.

There are still countless places I need to explore but L.A. and SoCal is a pretty cool place (minus its overpopulated, overcongested, highly disproportionate amount of wealth/access issues, to also name a few).

To change subjects, today was my first day working at the L.A. Daily News – I had a great time.

After finishing my last bit of paperwork, getting by I.D. badge (I have to say, I look pretty official now) and some crash course on their content managing system and other online related work, I was able to get my first byline in – which happened to be a breaker for their Web site (yeah, pretty sweet).

I met a few of the other interns, though I didn’t get too much of a chance to talk to them – I get to officially meet my partner this Friday.

It’s interesting to see how a mid-size paper company – who covers around half of L.A. County – is adapting to the current state of the news industry.

As one of the staff members from the Daily News half-jokingly asked me after a budget meeting, “Are you sure you want to do this?”

I was sure then and now after my first day of working for a newspaper, I couldn’t be more sure of it.

Photo Story: Keilah Fanene

16 05 2009

Last month I posted my Hakka multimedia project I worked on during my school’s annual lu’au. The following is another project I worked on for my photojournalism class. It is a photo story on Keilah Fanene.

You can read a short story on her along with the photo story by going to my Flickr page.

Hakka: the art of intimidation

26 04 2009

My school recently put on the 39th annual Lu’au. This year, it was titled “Mana: Spirit of the Islands.”

One of the entertainments was the Haka. They did a war-style Hakka chant for the show and let me just say that when these guys have the full face paint, they can look pretty intimidating. Here is one portrait I did with some of the guys (the rest can be found on my Flickr).

Also, I’m planning to do a multimedia of the Hakka performance piece for The Whitworthian so a heads up on that.

Travis Niles Hakka

Take me out to the home game (sans Cracker Jacks).

8 04 2009

Let me just come out to everyone and say I know squat about almost all professional sports (I filled out my first college basketball bracket. If me picking Ohio State to win doesn’t tell you anything about my sports knowledge, I don’t know what will).

So when I was given a sports photo assignment from my photojournalism class, I was a bit nervous. I covered a baseball game this past Saturday for the Pirates. Two hours, a wicked sunburn on my right forearm and a couple hundred frames later, I knew I had two pretty good frames (available below. Click for enlarged view). I don’t want to brag, but I think I did pretty well for my first sports photo assignment. I wasn’t assigned a photo assignment for the paper but the photo editor ended up putting my shot on the front page of the Sports section anyway. Click here for the sports article that accompanies my published photo.

The cellist – my photo assignment

20 03 2009
Editor’s note: I will be on spring break from March 20 to March 29. There is a possibility that postings will decrease during this time.

The cello happens to be my favorite classical instrument (ever heard of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1?). My friend, Kirsten G. (special thanks), allowed me to do a portrait on her while she played her cello. These are a couple pictures from a portrait assignment given in my photojournalism class (they are also available on my Flickr):

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