Learning to be a more versatile journalist: trial and error multimedia
By Wendy Gillis
Multimedia mastery doesn't come overnight. But as any VJ camper can tell you, it might happen in an afternoon. That's just one of the tricks learned at the three-day Camp Versatile Journalist at the Toronto Star this week.
Following a Tuesday morning spent feverishly typing notes about shooting video for online or getting quality audio recording (or maybe even tweeting about #campvj2010), aspiring web journalists were collectively thrust out the doors of One Yonge with cameras, microphones and a deadline assignment.
We had just over two hours to mine Queen's Quay for a story, then were instructed to use mapping, audio recording, and/or photo and video cameras to tell it. Reportorial standbys (known in the industry as pen and paper) took a back seat to Nikons and Maranz recorders as we set out to conquer any vestige of luddite left in our journalistic make-up.
Along the way we figured out that, when it comes to learning the skills, it's undoubtedly worthwhile to hear from the experts, but nothing beats trial and error. Some teams pressed record on a video camera for the first time and rolled with it. Others took 100 photos from every possible angle, experimenting with light and perspective. Many learned VuVox—the free web editing/creating/jack-of-all-digital-trades site that can help journalists make videos and soundslides in a snap—for the first time. Check out what Liam did for our story about the changing habourfront following a brief how-to seminar and some experimentation:Many teams incorporated Google maps into their storytelling. Maps give readers quick reference points, and—as we learned yesterday—embedding video and photos along the way enhances the reader experience.
View Toronto Habourfront: Any change is good change? in a larger map
Naturally, there were bumps along the way. Our team spent a long time editing a video, only to have technical difficulties during the uploading process (which means you can't see it here, unfortunately). Nobody's presentation was pristine: a few slideshows moved awkwardly, while some videos had muffled sounds. But considering most were employing very newly acquired skills, the end product was nothing short of impressive.
So maybe it's not mastery. But in the span of a day, everyone learned how to think outside the text box.
Wendy Gillis is a graduate student in the Ryerson journalism program, and begins an internship in the Star newsroom next month. Follow her on Twitter at @wendygillis.