The Benefits of Multimedia in Journalism

On Friday, Emily Sweeney stopped by our Reinventing the News classroom to talk about multimedia in journalism. Sweeney is a Northeastern alumna, staff reporter at the Boston Globe, the president of the New England chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and well-versed in mulimedia journalism.

I thought it was great to get the perspective of multimedia journalism from a reporter who writes stories for print and works for a company whose main product is a newspaper. Sweeney, who’s worked at the Globe since 2001, said she started to do multimedia projects for the Globe a few years into her time there, shooting a few videos every so often. Now, she said, boston.com produces approximately 160 videos per month.

Sweeney stressed the point that it’s imperative for people interested in journalism to be familiar with a little bit of everything. “Editing audio, do radio interviews, shoot and edit video, it’s all very important to know how to do,” she said.

Though her time with our class was short, Sweeney was able to show us a variety of projects she and others have done with the Globe: a video about bingo she made four years ago that went with a story she wrote, a video about Boston slang, and a video staff photographer Bill Greene shot about an older woman who plays on a basketball team.

To me, the most interesting multimedia project she showed us was the one about Boston slang. Originally, editors at the Globe asked her and reporter Billy Baker to record some Boston slang words to go along with a story Baker wrote. I was interested in this not because my whole family grew up in Boston and I don’t know that a phrase is “Boston slang” until my New Yorker boyfriend points it out to me, but because Sweeney and Baker decided the project would be much more interesting if they added a visual element.

The final product was a video that has Sweeney and Baker’s voiceover, some still photography and text, and some stock video footage which they got from archive.org, a free stock video website. I thought it was great that the two could be so creative and really make the project their own, and much more interesting than the original idea.

Sweeney also taught me that opportunities to add multimedia to a story are really everywhere, even if it means just taking a quick video with your cell phone to add to a blog post or article later.

In today’s journalism world, using “multimedia” in a traditionally print journalism setting isn’t different, it’s expected. The old lines are blending, and I think all audiences will benefit from a more comprehensive journalistic experience.

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