The edict came down at The Wichita Eagle, as it did , or will, in newsrooms across the country: you will be concentrating more on-line the coming year. As the announcement was made this past November, I saw my colleagues around me, their eyes either glazing over or their faces turning ashen.
No one really knew what it meant. Would everyone be required to learn to shoot and edit video? Sound? What would happen to our narratives that we worked so hard on for print?
I come from a broadcast family. My dad was a news director for a Midwestern network affiliate in the 1960s. He probably faced some of the same questions as he decided to buy the station's first sound film camera. My brother spent several years in radio. I had grown up around people with microphones, recording and trying to patch together records and mics that had different plugs. I spent six years as a music journalist, which took me inside recording studios and watching people mix and mic live sound. None of this was very intimidating.
I'd been looking for ways to use to web to expand my reporting since about 1999. As a reporter for The News-Leader in Springfield, Mo. I created an investigative piece on water quality, using statewide databases, and helped build a component, where residents could enter their zip code and find out what was in their water. That led to me being contacted by The Eagle and offered a job as the courts reporter on the crime team. I started collecting source documents and court exhibits in PDFs so people could see the material I was using to write my stories.
Multimedia was the next logical step. I 'm on the national board of the Society of Professional Journalists as a regional director and read an excellent article by Emily Sweeney of the Boston Globe on how to get started.
From there, I searched out others who could teach me: Mindy McAdams at the University of Florida and Richard Koci Hernandez's Multimedia Shooter and blogs by people such as Angela Grant helped launch me in the right direction. I just met Mindy this weekend at our National Writers Conference in Wichita and we talked for hours.
Katie Lohrenz, our on-line content developer at Kansas.com, has been encouraging, inspiring, taught me to use I-Movie and final cut and critiqued videos I have started producing for our web site. She suggested I try a personal blog to document my learning. We're not a huge newspaper, or a tiny one, but a medium market Midwest paper smack in the center of the country. We're learning as we go, as most newsrooms are. Plus, I've found a lot of blogs come from the perspective of those experienced in visuals, or experienced videographers. I've always written and reported through text, and I think moving to multimedia has unique challenges for those moving from the written word.
Whether our careers have involved words or pictures to this point, I believe we are all reporters and storytellers. We all seem to be moving in the same direction with multimedia, using different tools to tell our stories..
So I'm jumping into all of this now. I hope people will pick this up and ask questions. I'm learning something new every day.
And I'm having the time of my life. Multimedia has rejuvenated my enthusiasm and excitement in a career I love.