Multimedia journalists are reporters who are capable of producing, writing, shooting, editing, reporting, and social media, and use these skills in unison to tell stories and provide news coverage. While decades ago, it would take three or four people to do these jobs, now technology allows for a single person to do all of these things.
These jobs are becoming more and more common in today's broadcast news industry as News Directors look to downsize or use their resources more efficiently.
Top multimedia journalism skills every reporter needs:
News reporters who are multimedia journalists (also known as MMJ) or video-journalists (VJs) have to be adept in a wide range of skills, including:
While some MMJs or VJs are assigned stories, others are tasked with finding them. Therefore, multimedia journalists need to know how to find good stories, vet sources, balance stories and schedule interviews.
MMJS and VJs are responsible for shooting all of their material, including their stand-ups. Sometimes this means they are carrying around heavy cameras, tripods, microphones, or sometimes they shoot on their cell phones.
A multimedia journalist needs to be adept at composition, lighting, audio engineering, framing and much more. While they are concerned about capturing the shoot and making sure it looks good, these reporters are also interviewing the subjects at the same time.
It takes an experienced and successful multitasker to be a multimedia journalist.
After they have shot all of their video, conducted the interview and completed the standup, these reporters then have to write their stories. A news story has to be engaging, educational, balanced, and MMJs are tasked with turning the interviews they conducted into a compelling narrative.
Once they have finished writing the story, many journalists are then expected to edit these stories themselves. Using softwares like Premier or Final Cut, they will combine the content they shot, with the track they wrote, to put together a compelling piece of video that will air in a newscast or can get published as digital content.
Once the report is finished, MMJS will often present these news stories live in a newscast, during which they'll answer questions and elaborate on their knowledge.
More and more often, journalists are also expected to share their news stories or journalism with their social media following.
The benefits of being a multimedia journalist:
There are a lot of benefits of being a multimedia journalist, among them:
Control over your story in terms of how you shoot, frame, write and present it
Since you are the one that is going to write the story, you know what images and shots you need for video editing
The opposite is also true, since you shot the story yourself, you know what images you have and so it will make the writing process easier and more true to the images
Because you are adept at many different skills and jobs, you will more easily adapt to the changes of the journalism industry.
The downside of being a multimedia journalist
There are a few downsides about being a multimedia journalist, including:
Feeling isolated and not being able to easily bounce ideas off co-workers
No one can be perfect at everything, you might be a strong shooter, someone else will be a strong writer, someone else a strong editor, but most likely you won't be the best at every single skill
Because you have so many things to worry and think about, it can be overwhelming, and sometimes the product will be impacted
Why multimedia journalism is growing:
Decades ago a reporter would have a field producer, an audio engineer, and a cameraman. But as technology has shrunk the size of these technologies and made them easier to operate, now specialists aren't generally needed to capture audio and video. Now one person can do the job of five people, digital technology that makes MMJs possible.
This push towards multimedia journalists is further accelerated by shrinking budgets in newsrooms. The internet has transformed the news industry, while before television stations had big budgets as they sold commercials for thousands of dollars a piece, now, the internet is the number one place where people get their information and increasingly, their news too.
As more and more people turn away from television and to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for news, the less money each news station can make from the commercials. Therefore, the decline in broadcast journalism and the massive layoffs that have shocked the news industry this year. As budgets shrink, news directors need to be more efficient with their resources, and so we can expect a growing number of stations to adopt the multimedia journalism model.
To learn more about how the internet has changed the news industry, check out this blog post.
Taking nultimedia journalism courses to improve:
Becoming a multimedia journalist can be learned on the job, but it is preferable to receive formal training, that way you can hit the ground running and avoid making mistakes. Therefore, it is advisable that you take courses in college, university or that you reach out for coaching to an experienced multimedia journalist. Nowadays you need very little equipment to be an effective MMJ, you need a phone, a microphone and editing software. These three elements are basically everything you need to put compelling and engaging stories together, whether they are for television or for digital media.
Multimedia journalism is adaptable:
Multimedia journalism is exactly that, on multiple platforms, it can be featured on social media, television, radio, other digital platforms and generally anywhere on the internet. Because this type of reporting is adaptable to a lot of different formats and mediums it is likely that it will keep growing towards the future, adapting to wherever the eyeballs go.
It can be a frustrating and at times concerning time to be a journalist, the growing number of deadlines and skills that are expected of a reporter seem to grow by the year. However, storytelling is our oldest, most primitive form of communication so that won't be changing any time soon.