Beyond words: Becoming a multimedia journalist

IMG_0066Before taking Multimedia Reporting, I always considered myself a print journalist, a writer. Words were my specialty. I ordered them in a way that makes people want to read them. In addition to my words, I often compiled graphics  to help explain complex issues. Sometimes, I’d take some photos or shoot a video if I thought it was  necessary to comprehend a story I had written. I tried not to add multimedia, though, because it was a lot of work. Plus, did it really add that much?

Yes, yes it did.

Photos can make a story come to life. Videos can add depth more than any amount of words ever could. Audio can help audiences identify with subjects and feel like they are in the dentist’s office when they hear the drill or at school when the bell rings.

A low-angle photo I took of Lincoln Hall for my first project.

A low-angle photo I took of Lincoln Hall for my first project.

I learned this starting in January, with my first Multimedia project, where I just got to know my camera by messing around taking different photos and videos. In this project, we learned about wide, medium and tight shots. It was also the last time we were allowed to zoom during shots.

We didn’t use all of our shots, but it provided a lot of experience in seeing which shots worked, and I used my best work in the video we ended up posting for the project.

My favorite sound was my sister crunching the chip as she ate it.

My sister eating a chip provided my favorite photo and favorite sound of the photo essay.

In the second project, I used photos to tell the story of a Super Bowl party at work at The Daily Illini. Overall, this may have been my favorite project because I enjoyed taking photos the most out of everything we did in the course.

This project helped me expand my thinking about what a story is. It doesn’t have to be written words, audio words or even video. A story can be told silently, just through pictures. That was a new concept to me.

In the third project, I added sound to my photo essay. It showed me that even though pictures can be powerful, sound can make it come to life even more.

Shooting video on a Saturday night on Green Street in the snow was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be.

Shooting video on a Saturday night on Green Street in the snow was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be.

After the third project, we moved on to video, something that I had worked with even less prior to this course. The fourth project was going out and shooting something, so I chose to go out and document a Saturday night on Green Street. I learned what makes a video strong, but I also realized inebriated people are not too kind to those carrying around a camera.

I went to Chicago for my fifth project, as The Daily Illini went to the Illinois Collegiate Press Awards. In this video, I learned which questions to ask to get the best a roll videos and interviews in order to have a solid video.

Making a how-to video with my roommate was a lot of fun.

Making a how-to video with my roommate was a lot of fun.

The next video I made, project six, was really fun to make, as I incorporated my best friend Jake. I learned how to make a how to video, a very important type of video that will help answer questions, which is the main reason people head online, according to Prof. Collins.

Project seven presented a new challenge: an audio story. As the men’s basketball reporter for The Daily Illini, I had to write basketball stories, but this was unique because I had to do a story with audio rather than words. It helped me think more about the job of radio journalists.

Finally, project eight. We put it all together. We become editors, doing the best we can with the content we’re given. This showed we don’t always have control, and we need to be ready for anything.

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After learning all of the skills of a multimedia journalist, I no longer identify as just a writer. I’m more than that, and my work will reflect that.

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