Frequently Asked Questions

What is multimedia, or Web-centric, reporting?

It's some combination of video, text, audio, still photos and graphics presented in a non-linear format in which the information in each medium is complementary, not redundant. In other words, doing a text and video versions that are essentially the same story isn't multimedia reporting. Essentially, with all the forms to choose from, the storyteller figures out how best to tell each part of the story — what works best in video, in audio, in text, in graphics — within the time and resources available. Each part of the story may have its own narrative arc.

How does the multimedia training work?

Multimedia reporting training comprises two parts:

  • A three-day hands-on workshop to teach concepts, skills and context of multimedia reporting. Participants work in teams of four to produce their stories.
  • A six-week follow-up in which workshop participants work in teams and alone to become proficient in doing Web-centric breaking news, and short and long features using storytelling templates designed for this purpose.

[Although we use "multimedia" and "Web-centric" interchangeably, Web-centric is probably more accurate and less confusing. Multimedia is often confused with "multiple media", meaning multiple platforms, such as print, TV, online, and radio.]

What do the participants learn?

During the workshop, participants learn how to use a storyboard to transform a traditional linear audio story into a non-linear multimedia story comprising text, still photos, video, audio and/or graphics. They use a digital video camera as their reporter's notebook to gather the information that goes into the story. They learn how to use Photoshop, video-editing and Flash software to put their stories together.

Participants also explore how the unique characteristics of the Web are changing reporting, beat structure, news content and presentation. They also learn how interactivity, a critical characteristic of this new medium, is likely to affect their work and the NPR news organization through their participation in and creation of social networks.

During the three-day workshop, participants work in teams of four to produce a multimedia story. They learn how multimedia stories are conceived, constructed and put together. They learn how to use the software and hardware required to put together such stories.

After this introductory training, participants have enough knowledge to begin producing basic multimedia stories.

Why not just train people how to do video?

Video is only one of the available tools to tell a story. Although many news organizations have decided to add video to their Web sites, either through training their reporters or hiring videographers, that's an interim step to embracing the potential of this new Web medium. Most news organizations still take a "Christmas tree" approach to their stories on the Web: a text story with video, slide shows or graphics hanging on the side.

What else will the participants learn during the six-week follow-up?

Although three days of intense hands-on training provides participants with the skills and knowledge to begin producing basic multimedia stories, when they apply these skills and knowledge in the newsroom, other challenges will arise.

Some of these issues may include how to:

  • manage equipment
  • approach each story as a Web story first, and spin off a radio story
  • assess story staffing based on a Web-centric approach
  • assess and incorporate the time required for production
  • explore the transition to a Web-centric production process
  • develop multimedia storytelling templates, ranging from breaking news to features to investigative stories
  • develop beat and issue Web shells
  • develop platform distribution strategies, including cell phones

How much experience does the Knight team have in doing these types of workshops and facilitating news organization transition?

The Knight Digital Media Center team has been a pioneer in bringing multimedia reporting concepts and skills to news organizations. It has been conducting multimedia reporting workshops since 2002. We offer four multimedia reporting workshops and two technology training workshops a year. We usually receive around 200 to 300 applicants for 20 positions.

Kim Perry started cross-training in journalism in 2001, working in television, print, wire services and online. She's worked with Knight since 2004 to bring multimedia reporting to newsrooms. After earning a master's at the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism in 2006, Perry spent a year and a half at The San Diego Union-Tribune as a content producer/reporter and multimedia mentor/trainer.

Paul Grabowicz and Jane Stevens started the multimedia reporting courses at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism in 2000. The courses began as an elective, and are now required of every student. With Scott Hacker, they set up the J-school's multimedia resources site, which is now managed by Jeremy Rue.

Jane Stevens has been a multimedia journalist since 1997, when she did the first multimedia story on the New York Times Web site, and then went on to do multimedia reporting for Discovery Channel's Web site. She was among the first group of videojournalists (VJs) trained by Michael Rosenblum in 1996. In 2007-2008, she developed a Web-centric approach to science journalism with TOPP.org and GreatTurtleRace.com. She's also conducted in-house Web-centric reporting workshops and follow-up consulting at the Ventura County Star, the San Diego Union-Tribune, Consumer Health Interactive, the Missourian, the Oakland Tribune, and the Lawrence-Journal World.

Paul Grabowicz directs the New Media Program at the Graduate School of Journalism, which he set up in 1995. He teaches classes in multimedia reporting, new media publishing and computer assisted reporting. Paul consults with news organizations and received a Knight Innovation grant for his work on a video game recreation of Oakland's famed jazz and blues club scene of the 1940s and 1950s.

What NPR staff are currently participating in the training?

  • Sarah Beyer Kelly, Producer, Weekend Edition Saturday
  • Corey Flintoff, Web Correspondent, Foreign Desk
  • Sarah Handel, Associate Producer, Talk of the Nation
  • Lee Hill, Associate Producer, Tell Me More
  • Roy Hurst, Associate Producer, News & Notes
  • Jeffrey Katz, Senior Supervising Producer, Digital News
  • Frannie Kelley, Editorial Assistant, NPR Music
  • Caitlin Kenney, Production Assistant, Bryant Park Project
  • Laura Krantz, Assistant Editor, Weekend Edition Sunday
  • Frank Langfitt, Correspondent, National Desk
  • Alison Richards, Supervising Editor, Science Desk
  • Jim Wildman, Senior Producer, Morning Edition

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