futurejournalism · multimedia

Newspapers must use their assets in the online revolution

I am slowing working my way through my Bloglines account to catch up on the reading I missed while I was away and I found (as always) some interesting points made by Mindy McAdams.

Mindy interviewed photo editors and multimedia producers at four US newspapers about what skills are most needed in newsrooms and found that video editing, storytelling and audio skills led the list. This seems to make sense. It isn’t top quality images that are missing, but the skills to work with time-consuming video (the perhaps unnecessary obsession with video, a subject I have blogged about before) and audio skills.

The Spokesman-Review’s Colin Mulvany believes that video will pay off in the future, and that big news breaking stories will demand video attention. I agree, but my feeling is that currently the online sites of Australian newspapers focus on video at the expense of audio slideshows. They already have access to award-winning and exceptionally talented photographers – something other media organisations don’t have.

Yes, we see the use of some of those excellent photos on the web, but more often than not in a gallery not a slideshow. Any collection of images without audio, I would label a gallery. Even any collection of images with audio (generally in the case of Australian newspapers this is music) that doesn’t tell a story is also a missed opportunity. And remember that’s what we do – tell true and factual stories. Using those top quality images, collecting story enhancing audio of natural sound and interviews would allow newspapers to tell stories online in a unique and engaging way. It is a point of differentiation that is not being fully exploited.

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