As more cost-wary newsrooms pressure journalists to become familiar with all types of media, about 20 AAJA members attended an audio/video basics workshop on June 20 to learn how to meld video and audio techniques into news narratives.
A white screen illuminated video clips in the red brick-walled offices of KoreAm Journal while participants lounged on couches. The magazine was a reminder of a changing news industry, as it was the subject of a fall 2008 Save KoreAm campaign to avoid shutting down.
In the wake of failing newspapers and plunging ad revenues, the three workshop panelists, all professional video and audio producers, stressed the urgency of using multimedia to attract more viewers and readers.
Newsrooms are cutting costs and catching up to the immediacy of the Internet by expecting more from reporters than a stand-up or a print story, the panelists said.
“Employers want you to do everything,” said Phillip Ige, one of the panelists and a photojournalist at KTLA 5, during a workshop presentation.
Co-panelists Darryl Kim, a videographer, editor and engineer at Fox 11, and Corey Takahashi, a freelance journalist and audio producer, offered practical tips for staying ahead of the game. Journalists should know how to fly solo when shooting video or photos, editing and writing articles or scripts, while still meeting cut throat deadlines.
“With mass upgrades in technology, folks at the station are expecting greatness at a ludicrous speed,” Ige said. “How can you create shortcuts to get close to excellence?”
Technical tricks such as bringing extra batteries, double-checking compatible video formats and setting up appropriate video shots all help ensure that the news package will run smoothly, Kim said.
But nothing, said Ige, beats the storytelling liveliness of great natural sound, as he demonstrated by dropping a paper onto the table – a whisper – and then erupting into a bellow of “NAT SOUND!”
A television package of an Olympic boxer further illustrated this concept. The audio of punches, jabs, heavy breathing and squeaking shoes to the video track grabbed and locked our attention.
“Video is only as good as your audio,” Kim said.
Some members raised the question of whether professional camera equipment, which can cost at least $8,000, was really worth the average journalist’s budget.
It depends, Ige said, on the purpose of the story and your audience. If the story is for a blog, a personal website or a quick interview on the red carpet, a $200 handheld camera – or the even smaller Flip camcorder – will suffice.
Attendees said they were able to take away helpful lessons from the workshop.
“I’m very open to multimedia and this new industry of being online, whether it be blogging or doing video blogs,” said Janice Jann, a recent UCLA graduate. “I think that is eventually where I will be going into. But I would still like to be in broadcast.”
KoreAm is also adapting its content to a more multimedia-centered platform. After the website is re-launched, the online edition will have multimedia elements, such as video, audio or slideshows, accompany each print story, said Michelle Woo, managing editor of KoreAm Journal.
“Every news organization is seeing a rapid change in the industry and day-to-day requirements. It seems that it’s pretty imperative for us to keep up with the rest of the online world,” Woo said.
Takahashi, a freelance journalist, discussed guidelines on pitching compelling stories to a news organizations and suggested these websites:
– News-driven story pitches (http://marketplace.publicradio.org/about/pitches.html)
– Feature and documentary story pitches (http://www.thisamericanlife.org/About_Submissions.aspx)
– Audio tips (http://transom.org/)
Innovative multimedia projects (http://interactivenarratives.org)
BBC’s “Save Our Sounds” Project (www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/specialreports/saveoursounds.shtml)
“Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production” by Jonathan Kern