MMJ- Not a martial art, but fighters indeed

MMJ (Multimedia Journalism) and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) are two very different areas on the career spectrum. However, the two have something very important in common: people in those fields have to be strong, independent fighters.

This is me. I was in Taos, NM on assignment. I wrote an article, shot a video and took photos for the story about students living off-the-grid. I had to work very hard and stay optimistic to get the story done well.

Multimedia, or multiplatform, journalism means that as reporters, we have to do it all. There is no such thing as just a print reporter anymore. Any old dino journalist with his head stuck up his butt reading this probably will hate me for saying so, and think “What does she know? She’s just a kid, not even out of J school yet. Newspapers are where it will always be.”

Well, I’ll say, “Alright buddy, have fun getting people to read your newspaper with those long gray legs of text. Ima go ahead and get thousands of clicks on this slide show from all those people checking it out on their Ipad2.”

But this isn’t about who’s right and who’s wrong (though I’m right). This is about this one fact: any student looking to get a job in journalism out of school has to know how to do it all. Shoot video, take photos, write for the web, make slide shows, create audio pieces, etc etc.

It’s a lot. A lot more than what we’ve been trained to do originally. And many universities are behind on adding it to the curriculum even though it’s sort of a requirement to get a job. I found this really cool blog that has this really cool mashup showing what schools across the US and Canada are implementing multimedia into it’s curriculum for J students.

As I alluded to before, being MMJ is a lot like being MMA. You have to be a fighter to come out ahead.

It’s hard and exhausting, and sometimes you want to just give up. But every time it’s finished and the final product is out, it proves to be well worth the hard work.

Think and Plan Ahead- As always, you’ve got to do your research on the story. If you can’t do that, quit now! But on top of that, you have to analyze every angle of the story and determine what ways it can be enhanced with multimedia. Is the story really visual that could allow a  slide show and a video? Could there be an audio element to it? Maybe some kind of interactive map or time line? You need to do this as far in advance before reporting as possible so you know what equipment to use and what you’ll be looking for to get the information you need.

Challenge yourself- You have to be comfortable taking risks. But you also have to be careful taking risks. Sometimes videos can turn out to be really cheesy, but if you know what you’re looking for, you can do something that is really cool and innovative. You also need to learn to step out of your comfort zone. That’s what multimedia is all about, keeping up with the platform and challenging yourself to learn to ever forming technology.

Be Creative- Like I said before, don’t be afraid to try something new. A new shot or a new platform. Trust your instincts, after all, having good instincts is what it’s all about. You’re being trusted to tell people what they need to know in a way that makes them also want to know it.

Stay Positive- It’s overwhelming, and that’s an understatement. It’s friggin’ scary thinking you have to get in people’s faces with a camera and learn how to use the Ipad when the Ipad2 just came out. It’s hard to update your Facebook, Twitter, blog, linkdin, Tublr, Instagram, foursquare and all those other social media sites while trying to get the story and verify your sources and get it done in the three minutes it’s due after the fact for the web. Expectations are high and time runs out. BUT, you’ve got to stay positive. If you let it get to you and let it freak you out, you’ll never make it. Roll with the punches and do your best. Stay dedicated and love what you do, and you’ll be fine.

Some tools to use in multimedia

Use all the tools you can- The previous piece of advice pointed out the fact that there are a lot of tools at our fingertips. It can be overwhelming to think of all the things we can and have to use, but it’s also pretty exciting. Once you get familiar with your toolbox, you realize how much easier and more helpful they become. Not to mention you kind of have to use them to satisfy your viewer and the way people take information in today. If you want to be successful, don’t use just Twitter- do all of it!

Don’t repeat yourself- One thing I struggle with the most having all of these tools and different ways to tell a story but not telling the same story over and over again. There’s only so much information to be expressed and every time there’s more than one way to tell it. This goes back to planning ahead because then you know what platforms you want to tell the story and find different ways to tell it without saying the same thing over and over again. No one likes redundancy!

With alllllll that said, go do some MMJ! Need help? Plenty of resources =D

-Haley L.



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