Saturday, May 26, 2007

Our first multimedia project

I learn by example and improve through feedback.

I’m getting much of the former but too little of the latter, since I ventured into an emphasis on multimedia journalism. When writing stories for 1A, I could get feedback by going out for breakfast. People would be talking about the story at the diner. Readers would e-mail me.

Multimedia is new enough to local audiences that readers are searching to find it – or more accurately not looking for it at all. Few people are going to newspaper sites looking for video or anything that moves. I know this, because Howard Owens quoted another Kansas guy - Rob Curley’s research saying it takes about 18 months for people to find a new feature. We’ve been providing videos in earnest, if not in consistency, since January. About this time next year, maybe people will notice.

There's no shortage of examples. I scour the web looking for learning opportunities, not to copy them, but to try to learn style and form and I can go out and incorporate what I like into what I do. Same way I’ve always covered a beat or written stories.

But there’s not much feedback.

That’s why I love Angela Grant’s critiques of my video. It helps me grow. Angela, thank you!

It’s also why I offer this: our first multimedia project.

It just launched on Katie and I compiled this as the first project for our newspaper that is web-centered – not a part of a story for the print version. We’re going to continue to add galleries and hope people discover it, while providing some evergreen content to our site.

How we did it: Friday nights are always a strain on staff: busy sports night, too few people. Ever suggest to a newspaper person, reporter or photog, who has to already work weekends and holidays to give up a Friday night? If we were going to do this, it was up to us to shoot it.

Rule No. 2 of Multimedia Reporting: Don't let them hear you whine. Don't complain about not having the right gear, the right talent, anything.You might end up getting buzzed. Do whatever it takes to get the job done. For print stories, I've taken notes on the back of napkins.

We did these first slide shows with a Nikon Coolpix point-and-shoot digital camera. We picked up sound with our Canon Elura 85 video camcorder - which turns out to be the best audio recorder we have - using our inexpensive Nady external mic, discussed in a previous post. We extracted the sound in I-Movie and edited it in Audacity. Brian Corn, our director of visuals, was pleased with the outcome. "Awesome," I believe was his word.

I provide examples of my work, not because I think they’re particularly noteworthy, but to document where I am at this stage of the learning curve.

And to get feedback. That’s the only way we will improve.

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