Before journalism moves into the digital realm, it used to be kind of dull – just a chunk of text and occasionally some pictures, and of course some ads, on newspaper and magazine. And as there’s only hardcopies supplying, people who don’t bother grabbing a copy were often prevented from exposing to the knowledge. It’s not entertaining and it’s inconvenient.
In the digital age, tables are turning. News now plays a more prominent role in everyday life, because people can always read online when they are commuting or when they are just using the bathroom with smartphones, tablets and the likes. Citizens are also potentially a part of journalism, where they can actively participate and “audience is much more involved” (Wilma Stassen, 2010).
What further adds to the value of reading news is the sense of entertainment readers get. Rather than just sticking their head up in a stack of crumpled paper, now they could watch videos or animations to engage in the story. Figures and statistics are commonly displayed in the format of infographics now, which is “less complicated for the brain to process than pure text” (Mark Smiciklas, 2012) – definitely a great help for those of us who are number-phobic.
Given the increasing prominence of such form of journalism, this week I would like to share some of the useful tools I find, listed below:
- Explainer video: These videos are in generally short. They aim to deliver precise message within seconds to minutes. It can be consisted of still shots, moving films or animations. Each shot usually stays for around 5 seconds, together with a sentence of 10-15 words as a complimentary description. Below is an example by the Guardian about F1 Mexico race.
2. Filmed video: These videos are particularly useful when reporting stories that are visually strong and impactful. Asking the audience to see things with their own eyes is better than asking them to read emotional texts – when the chaos is lying so transparent in front of you, how can you not sympathise? The powerfulness can also be delivered when revealing an insider peek of mysterious circumstances to augment the content. It’s shocking, that’s why it’s engaging. Watch below for a video about heroine from BBC (caution: disturbing IMO.)
3. Live streaming: Broadcaster like BBC does live streaming during events such as the Olympics. Rather than presenting a still piece of news, it focuses on delivering real time news. This technique can also be useful in times of protests or elections. Click through the link to Reuters’ (used to be) live streaming of the US presidential election a week ago.
4. Infographics: This is a tricky one because there are so many types of them out there and each of them can offer very different results. Make careful choice of which one to use to cater the purpose you decide to serve. Infographics are data visualisations that present complex information quickly and clearly, according to Visually, (and it’s personally my favourite way to present data.) This page about 10 types of infographics is a good one to check out, it helps a lot when you are struggling with which one you opt for. See an interactive infographic example by the Guardian that tracks all real time aviation data and flight times.
Speaking of interactive infographics, Piktochart maybe a good site for first-starters to go to. It’s easy to make and it’s infographics in a nutshell. It’s crucial to acquire the technique of embedding where possible. If not, you might be unable to fully utilise the function of it (all you can do is post a screen capture of it.)
For sure there are many more multimedia tools we can put into the newsroom, but for independent journalists, or student journalists, processing the skills to develop the above ones would be able to enrich the content of your stories. Hope you find this helpful. Let me know if you happen to encounter more interesting examples.