Saturday, November 10, 2007

What is multimedia journalism - who **** cares?

It's a dogged question that I'm looking at with a videojournalism package next week.

I love the web for this type of pre-shoot thinking.

Here's what I have planned and please do chip in - as they say in Blighty.

I have a shoot from Al Jazeera with Riz Khan, which I hope to follow up with the Telegraph and then the Croydon Advertiser.

Riz is a multimedia operator and you'll see an array of DV cam he uses for his shoots. The trick is in the lighting

The Telegraph frankly need no introduction in this area.

Whilst the Croydon Advertiser has gained notoriety for its soundslide shows.

All of these bring different elements as the sum of all parts to the multimedia landscape and it will be interesting to hear what the parties have to say in a considered package rather than one which has the obligatory 2 minute TV time span.

There's some archive from 95 with interviews from the Guardian, Sunday Times and Telegraph about their thoughts on the matter which I'll drop in.

So what's the point in this?
I suggested the package to the Press Gazette in the face of a market that has come a long way in the last year and thus deserves a look in.

I also stumbled upon this site in my referral matrix logs - a Channel 4 Commissioner Matte Locke giving a robust speech to independent TV producers to pitch to him pieces that are not "Buckaroo" packages.

Buckaroo is that game played where the users try and place a saddle etc on a horse which buckaroos when the weight's too much.

If anything TV has shown itself up by it's lack of multimedia expressionism

What's multimedia got to do with it
So what does multimedia bring to the journalism table?

Six years ago in this article for one of the UK's leading architecture and design magazine's Blue Print, a colleague and I produced an interactive documentary.

It garnered ok attention, making its way to the finals of Channel 4's Unleash the Talent comp.

It's strength was that it was circular, no navigation arm, so required users play with it.

I hadn't quite dabbled in as much game theory then as I have now, so it was a wonderful eureka moment.

And there have been more. The Successor Generation - a documentary, radio piece, online site of a story I have kept in touch with over 13 years examines South Africa's young black professionals.

Who Cares
Multimedia yes, but frankly who cares. Who cares?

It's a language, a discourse and if you can speak it but no one can engage what's the point?

Multimedia in terms of a visual vernacular is a universal language, just like film.

There are various descriptions in the industry at what constitutes multimedia, from blogs to ful blown film sites like this Darfur Now, which shame, could and should have been made by any number of broadcasters

For instance there are sites that are multimedia driven but not multimedia in the singularities they offer.

On the other hand there are multimedia practitioners offering multi user experience, which claim the senses.

You only need to look at Apple 's Trailer site for new film sites in this catergory. Xmen is now a classic in the ranks of multimedia.

Does it matter really? Well, yes and no.

The bottom line is about delivering richer experiences for the end users isn't it, and one that gives them greater control?

It's about finding a more expansive, sometimes simpler way of telling a story, that may have a beginning but no end.

And what's apparent about that strand of multimedia stories is their timelessness.

Newsday's Cost of War is a brilliant example of a multimedia package that I came across from the Batten Awards 2 years ago and it has't left me.

It's also about the innovation and economics of journalism using available technology, offering something uniquely wonderful, pushing new paradigms and widening consumer choice.

Newspaper doing TV is one

Adrian Holavaty's Chicago is another.

And the economics must be such that new producers feel confident they're prolonging the shelf life of their assets and learning, as well as engaging more with a wider audience.

News never goes away.

The Tsunami, Hurrican Katrina, the Second World War - all have their legacies and ongoing actulaities.

Multimedia helps us construct and preserve manifold examples of news to watch now and then, many years ahead - and even scale them upwards.

What about the professionals
And what of the professionals?

if you were a photographer whose only pics used to grace the front page of the newspaper, but now you can create sound slide shows from your portfolio of unused but key pics, how satisfying that must be for the photojo and the consumers.

I suppose making more money would be as well.

This report I'm making isn't an empirical report, though it would merit one at some point.

Given my interests as part of my Phd and in lecturing, as well as in journalism, it would incorporate scenario building and trend extrapolation to think through where we could go with this.

Ultimately the platform that may emerge the victor will have a lot in common with cable broadband as opposed to Satellite - which doesn't offer a true multimedia interactive experience.

The experience is a slight of hand - a loop. There is no return pathway. You crash in at any point. The BBC's interactive news (press the red button) is something like that.

So Multimedia - we've only just started, and it's highly likely that it will undergo more metamorphosis as we just about grapple with waht we can do now.


Cliff said...

Excellent read mate - Thanks for adding to my already full plate of things to think about.. ;-)

Cliff Etzel

Anonymous said...

Hey - great thoughts. Multimedia - not only a term, but a language. Some of us might imidiately ad: "But, of course.."

But therein I face the first and major obstrucktion.... What about all the others, that do not yet understand this.

My friends, my fellow journalists not to forget ... My boss?

We have a task to do here some time in the near future - to be able to explain this "new concept" to others (no so nerdy as us).

But once again - Great stuff, David. Love following the blog *thumbs up*