Behind the Scenes: Multimedia Storytelling

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 - 2:49 pm

Behind the Scenes: Multimedia Storytelling

“The story will tell you how it wants to be told.”
—Paul Grabowicz, Associate Dean of UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Last month I attended a multimedia boot camp at the Knight Digital Media Center. This experience opened my eyes to the universe of multimedia storytelling possibilities — from cinematic videos to creative uses of found footage.
Recently our SOF crew gathered over lunch to look at some examples of video recommended by Grabowicz, including this one from NPR:Some staff appreciated the film’s visual richness: the color toning, the varied angles, the mixture of image sequencing. Other staff members questioned its merits as a piece of news journalism: the sequence of images of locks (were they all ones he worked on?), not having a third party to verify his health condition, a questionable angle of a top-of-head shot. As a news consumer and a civic being, what did you notice?
We also discussed this harrowing time-lapse video of a man stuck in an elevator for 41 hours, which The New Yorker included as a companion to a longer print feature about the hidden lives of elevators.

Even though it’s an example of found footage, it didn’t just fall out of the sky. Producing multimedia journalism requires time, money, editorial, and staff resources. We’re challenged with juggling all of those balls as we continue to produce multimedia stories for our website and blog.
And, we plow forward. Stay tuned for a video we’ll be posting soon showcasing a panoply of voices from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly held in Minneapolis last week. Also, point us to multimedia narratives you like (or have produced yourself) and tell us how we can include your voices and stories in our process.

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as chief content officer and executive editor. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.


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