Planning a Multimedia Report

By Omid Memarian, IJNet Contributing Writer (link to the piece on the ICFJ website)

**This is the third in a series of articles on multimedia reporting by Iranian journalist and blogger Omid Memarian. To read last week’s piece, click here.**

Before starting work on a multimedia project, we must consider the story’s characteristics and draw a Storyboard to organize our thoughts.

Storyboarding a multimedia project has several important benefits:

  1. A Storyboard shows different aspects of a topic and the media best-suited for each aspect. Planning a Storyboard requires adequate research on the story topic.
  2. The Storyboard is a space to assess time limits and available resources. If a story is being produced by a team, the Storyboard shows what skills are required by various team members.
  3. A Storyboard is an action plan that helps us make sure that nothing is left out from our project.

Here is an example that helps better understand the Storyboard: You have been asked to produce a multimedia report on the 100th match between Tehran’s two major soccer teams, Persepolis and Esteghlal. The report will be posted on the Web site of a major newspaper.

First, you draw a list of different ideas that could be covered by the report:

  • An historical background of previous matches between the two teams.
  • The two teams’ acheivements and failures in the current season, and an assessment of both clubs’ chances of winning the championship.
  • Quotes from the soccer players and the coaches about the upcoming match.
  • Reactions from the teams’ fans.
  • The business aspect of the game and the clubs’ revenues from advertisments, prizes and ticket sales.
  • The importance of the match.
  • Security issues, number of police present on the scene, concerns over potantial clashes between fans and damage to property, and references to similar situations in previous matches.

Clearly, numbers are not used to prioritize items on the list. That is because multimedia stories are not configured in a linear form. Unlike traditional storytelling, multimedia compenents of a story are able to stand-alone. Although sections of the multimedia report complement each other, they are presented independently.

Next we have to choose the platform(s) that we are going to use to report the different parameters of the story — which parts are going to be told by video, audio, pictures or text. We have to assess the potential of each platform in better narrating our story.

Video: Video is best used to show an action scene, like scoring a goal in a soccer match, or when we want the audience to experience being in a certain place.

Text: One of the best applications of text in a multimedia report is to provide a historical background or an analysis. Another application is using text to provide explanations about pictures and slideshows. We also use text to provide links to other online reports. Text is the least expensive platform when compared to audio, video and pictures and does not require specific tools.

Still photos: We use still photos to show memorable moments or to stress a certain event. It is better to have photos that are strong enough to tell their own stories without requiring text descriptions. Still, photography is one of the least expensive templates and can be used either as an independent report, or independently as part of a multimedia project.

Audio: Audio is a suitable medium for reporting interviews. An audience can listen to an interview while browsing through the Internet. Audio is also a strong medium to convey emotional feelings.

Audio-slideshows: Photo-slideshows provide the user with the advantages of multiple media — both audio and photo platforms tell a story. The downside is that producing audio-slideshows takes more time than either the audio or photo platforms do alone.

Data and Statistics: The best way to report data and statistics is to apply graphs. Application of animated graphs is more interesting but more expensive than normal graphs. Their preparation also requires more time.

Graphic design: Along the same lines and data and statistics, we can use graphics to comparing the achievements of the two soccer teams mentioned in the example in the past 20 years. Visualizing the data will make it more understandable for the audience and easier to remember.

This topic will be continued next week in Part 2.

Memarian is an award winning Iranian journalist and blogger whose articles have been published by theNew York Times, San Fransisco Chronicle and the LA Times. Memarian is a multimedia journalism graduate of UC Berkeley.

Leave a Reply