Stories used to be told by word of mouth or written word. In the 21st Century, journalists have more outlets to present a story.

In addition to a traditional text-based story, reporters can:

Events that have a more visual aspect can be recorded in photographs and presented as a slide-show or recorded as video. Emotion can be conveyed in an audio interview and distributed as a podcast. Each new medium offers something extra to the audience that can’t be captured in plain text.

Tools

A multimedia journalist needs an array of gadgets and accessories when reporting. The traditional pen and notebook won’t cut it.

Modern journalists may be expected to carry:

  • a camera (still or video)
  • an audio recorder
  • a microphone
  • headphones
  • a tripod
  • lighting equipment
  • memory cards
  • and, of course, plenty of extra batteries

Technology does post the problem of something going wrong. Any one of these items could malfunction, die, or run out of memory space. Journalists now have more to worry about than their pen running out of ink.

All these tools serve a purpose. Though not all are required, each accessory adds better quality. Lavalier and boom microphones record better audio than the microphone on the camera. A tripod will stabilize a shaky camera hand and lighting equipment will ensure a well-lit photograph.

However, when the content is more important than the quality, such as during a breaking news event, a journalist may rely on what she can get, even if it is of a lower quality. Some news stations have found that the audience prefers raw footage over edited content.

Techniques

Regardless of how much expensive equipment a journalist possesses, he will not produce good content without the proper techniques.

The picture plane has been divided into thirds. The man in the photograph is positioned so that he is at the cross-hairs of the dividing lines. This composition is more visually pleasing than if he had been framed in the center.

Framing is important for visual content. Whether shooting still photographs, or video, the rule of thirds should be considered. The picture plane should be divided into thirds vertically and horizontally. The area of focus (in most cases a person performing an action or being interviewed) should rest on one of the imaginary lines separating the thirds.

In video, head room and nose room is especially important. A person facing to the right should have extra space on her right in the frame. She should also have plenty of space above her head, but not too much to make her appear short.

For audio, it is important to let the interviewee do the talking. Encourage the subject to continue speaking with a simple nod rather than a verbal cue. Before getting to the meat of the interview, take some time to record ambient sound to use in the background and to establish the scene.

Putting it all together

One of the benefits of multimedia is the ability to combine techniques. Audio and visual storytelling naturally overlap in video production, but still photos can be added as well.  Audio and photography can be combined to create an audio slideshow. Databases can be combined with maps to organize information by location.

A story can be told many different ways. By combining media, the audience can get a full view of the aspects involved and gain new perspectives of the world around them.

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