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.





What news recruiters look for in student-journalists

14 08 2009

Many of the top U.S. news organizations attended the AAJA 2009 National Convention job fair in Boston.

Since it’s not everyday student journalists get the opportunity to talk to editors and recruiters from the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, USA Today and others, I took the liberty to ask some of them a simple question: what is the most important thing your news company looks for when a student journalist hands in an application for your internship program?

Washington Post booth

A recruiter from The Washington Post talks to a student journalist during the AAJA 2009 National Convention job fair in Boston

Here are their answers:
Read the rest of this entry »





Journalists in jeopardy: the cost of international reporters

14 08 2009

If a magic genie appeared and granted me any job I desired, I would ask to be an international reporter.

The mix of adventure, excitement and danger with a focus on international issues just sounds so perfect.

Thursday’s morning plenary session at the AAJA 2009 National Convention in Boston addressed the various aspects of international journalism.

Juju Chang, ABC News correspondent, Bob Dietz, Asia program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists and Sandra Nyaira, political editor of the Daily News, Zimbabwe, spoke as panelists in "Journalists in Jeopardy" Thursday morning.

Juju Chang, ABC News correspondent, Bob Dietz, Asia program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists and Sandra Nyaira, political editor of the Daily News, Zimbabwe, spoke as panelists in "Journalists in Jeopardy" Thursday morning.

And with the recent events of journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling‘s release from North Korea (which they sent a short little video thanking AAJA for their efforts) has led me and others to rethink how reporters are putting their life on the line. They risk themselves for the sake to create compelling news in places where free press is not a guaranteed right. And not only that, the landscape of international reporting is changing.

“The Web opens the door to a new generation of journalists,” Juju Chang, ABC News correspondent said in a panel with two other journalists with experience in international reporting.

Many international reporters today work as mobile journalists – a “one-man band in the finest sense,” she said in the context of ABC’s program.

But this shift from established foreign bureaus to solo backpack journalism is something that is happening more often – especially with the financial state of news organizations.

So international reporters lose a network and safety net of an established bureau. What’s a gain?

“It is a tremendous opportunity to cover stories that won’t normally get covered,” Chang said.

So with the future of international reporting possibly going under reinvention, what should journalists who are seeking to report abroad do? Roxana Saberi, Iranian-American journalist who was arrested in Iran this January and released in May, tells AAJA members five useful tips:

Roxana Saberi speaks with NPR Host Melissa Block at NPR headquarters Wednesday in Washington D.C. This was the first media interview Saberi has given since her release from Iran's Evin prison on May 11. She had been sentenced to prison after an Iranian court convicted her of espionage, but her sentence was suspended after an appeals hearing. Associated Press

Roxana Saberi speaks with NPR Host Melissa Block at NPR headquarters Wednesday in Washington D.C. This was the first media interview Saberi has given since her release from Iran's Evin prison on May 11. She had been sentenced to prison after an Iranian court convicted her of espionage, but her sentence was suspended after an appeals hearing. Associated Press

1. If you want to freelance internationally, pick a country with fewer journalists.

2. Know how to tell stories in multiple mediums

3. Become a part of the language and culture. And familiarize yourself with the legal system of the host country.

4. Balance pressures between the press, host government, your boss and self conscience.

5. Have a go-to person. A friend or family member who can check in everyday to make sure you are safe and out of danger.








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