Slideshows are a useful multimedia tool

Today, journalists are expected to know how to use multimedia reporting. Gone is a time where writing a good story is enough.

Publications are looking for those who can write a good story, as well as take the photos and create an infographic to go along with it.

“On the Web, photographs now act as gateways to information and context, to stories told by participants and conversations held by viewers,” said Melissa Ludtke, editor of Nieman Reports, a quarterly journal on journalism issues from Harvard.

The slide show is becoming more and more prevalent in online reporting, and knowing how to make a good slideshow is a great skill for a young journalist to have up their sleeve.

Nieman Reports hosts a variety of examples of how a slideshow can benefit a written story.

Inside Reporting, the textbook for CJ222, says

“Choose the right tools for every story. As digital news pioneer Jonathan Dube wisely recommends:

Use print to explain.

Use multimedia to show.

Use interactives to demonstrate and engage.”

With a slideshow, your job is to show, not explain. What would normally take inches of explanation in print can be summed up in a five second slide.

But it is more than just slapping a few pictures together with  sound in the background.

Mindy McAdams, a professor of journalism at the University of Florida, Gainesville, said in her blog:

“If you want to tell a story with photos and sound about an event, what do you want to communicate? In addition to what happened and who was there, you should be trying to convey a sense of the experience.”

In relating an experience to an audience, you can’t afford to be all over the place.

“Most multimedia stories run about two minutes, maybe two and a half,” McAdams said. “Limiting yourself to that length imposes discipline. Not only do you need to know what you intend to communicate; you also need to ruthlessly cut away anything that does not advance the story. Keep it simple. Don’t try to do more than one thing in two minutes.”

10,000 Words, a Mediabistro blog, has this advice to offer:

“If the subject is discussing their cat, don’t show a duck. If they are describing a sad time in their life, don’t show a photo from their bachelor party. Like in broadcast news packages, the photos that appear should reflect what the subject is discussing.”

Watch a slideshow from the New York Times here.

Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

Do you think creating slideshows is an important skill for journalists to learn?

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