Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer multimedia lessons: coming full circle

It's really been an incredible summer.

Amid 10 days of triple-digit heat in Kansas, I've received a few signs that maybe I'm starting to do things right.

Like video.

When I started this blog in 2007, there were few places to learn how to add multimedia to your work day. I searched the web to learn video and found Angela Grant's News Videographer blog. I sent Angela my videos and she critiqued them. I read her tips and followed them.

Then this summer Angela, now Morris, emailed me. She wanted to ask me how I was doing video. It was kind of a shock.

I had started looking at video, because I wanted to capture the raw emotion of my court beat. There were times when witnesses broke down on the stand, talking about the crimes committed against them. When I was strictly a print reporter, I never felt like I actually captured that. I wanted to add video to my arsenal of tools, so I could combine those snippets with my stories. Angela introduced me to video storytelling and how to edit complete stories that could stand alone or augment my articles. I dove in.

Now, Angela covers courts herself and came to me asking what I'd learned in doing legal videos. We did an email Q&A and she posted some examples of what I thought I'd done right.

Angela then posted a recommendation on my LinkedIn profile:

“Ron and I became Internet buddies when I was writing regularly for my blog, News Videographer. Ron was teaching himself to shoot and edit videos at the time and he would email me questions and links to videos for critiques. Ron is eager to learn new skills and humble enough to ask questions and listen to advice. From his progress to date, I can see he truly implements the lessons in the real world. Now, I am turning to him with my own questions and appeals for advice!”

The real lesson for me here reminds me of what I've learned as a reporter. I've always followed a personal goal when working on major projects that I knew I was ready to write when I started giving sources information they didn't know. I don't mean that to sound arrogant. But it's happened. I start reporting and keep reporting and eventually I'll contact a source who I have talked to a dozen times with a bit of information, and they'll reply, "I didn't know that." Then I know I'm finished.

It was the same with Angela's post. I could never have gotten through my first year of shooting video without her tutorials, lessons and tips. Now that she's asking me questions, I feel I must have learned something.

And I must be doing something right.

It's been four years since I started this blog. Multimedia is not something you learn overnight. It's like writing. It takes years. But if you keep at it, eventually you start to get a feel for it

Journalism has suffered mightily in the past several years. I've watched good friends walk out the door -- and not by choice. I've heard doomsday predictions for a profession I love.

But it's these little steps, and my belief that we provide our communities with valuable information, that keeps me eager to go into work every day.

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