Starting out in multimedia, especially at a newspaper that is just beginning to dabble in it, can be a humbling experience.
Since I’ve been concentrating on learning how to add audio slide shows and video to my reporting, I’ve written shorter stories for the print newspaper, or helped other reporters produce segments for their stories. Others may be stand-alone projects that have only been passed along by word-of-mouth, or from small refers in the paper.
Reactions have gone something like this:
“So, still at the newspaper?”
“I haven’t seen anything by you in a while ... oh, you guys have a web site?.”
“I went looking for that project you said you were working on and couldn’t find it.”
Our readers aren’t used to looking for multimedia on our web site, and what we do have are simple links from the stories.
Then last night, I accompanied my wife to one of her professional/social outings, looking like appropriate arm candy, and reveling in how brilliant and well respected she is. Occasionally, someone my recognize me from covering the courthouse beat, or recognize my byline and comment on a story.
But this time, a guy who had just met me, who was not someone I had emailed a link to, or had looked at work through this blog, said: “Didn’t you do that thing on-line about the rescue.” He was talking about a slide show I did a couple of weeks ago of boy being rescued from a raging river while trying to show friends how well he could swim. He almost drowned.
I was shocked that a total stranger would be commenting to me at an unrelated function about something I’d done exclusively on-line.
“Yeah,” he continued. “I’ve been showing it to my kids, saying ‘Don’t ever do this.’ ”
The closest I’d come before was three requests for a video I shot and edited of a demonstration by our fire department trying to discourage people from smoking cigarettes while using medical oxygen. They came from health care clinics in Missouri and Great Britain wanting to help educate patients and from a man in Tennessee wanting it for his mom. I burned them some DVDs and we posted it on You Tube
Granted, they aren’t coming yet in the numbers that make my bosses do more than yawn. But I’ve gained some personal satisfaction that my work is having at least a small impact. And that’s really all I’ve ever needed.