A multimedia story is a combination of text, video, photos, and audio. It can also include animation, graphics and interactivity. The story is presented in a nonlinear format in which the information in each medium–video clips, text, and still photos–is complementary and not a rigid, single narrative. A multimedia story avoids redundancy by not having a text segment accompanied by a video clip that essentially tells the same story. In a multimedia presentation, different segments are told in different mediums, working to present the story in the most compelling and informative way. Here’s an example.
Many news website like CNN, The New York Times and MSNBC are multimedia where they have test, video clips, audio clips, graphics and interactivity. However, rarely do you see the text, video, still photos and audio integrated into the same story, but that is changing. More media sites are beginning to utilize many different mediums to tell a single story.
Creating a Multimedia Story
Before you develop a multimedia story, gather as much information on the subject as possible. You must report on the story differently than you would as a print journalist, where instead of writing down information you see or hear on a notebook, you incorporate every aspect of a story. Take a video camera to record video and audio clips as well as shoot still photographs and collect information that can be used for text. All of these elements can then be utilize for creating a multimedia story. Most multimedia stories require in the field reporting and face-to-face interviews with sources, but you can use other interviewing methods as well.
The Multimedia Storyboard
Before creating your multimedia story, you must prepare a storyboard, which is an outline of all the multimedia possibilities. This means doing a preliminary interview with the source or sources for background information, getting a basic sketch of what to expect in the field and looking up any published material on the source as well. Next, collect as many visuals as possible, still photos, videos clips or graphics available on the subject to see what the story’s components are.
A storyboard is sketch of how to organize a story and the list of its contents. Divide the story into parts such as:
- Lead paragraph introducing the story
- Profiles of source or sources
- Any process or how something works
- Events or situation of the story
- History of the event or situation
- Other issues related to the story
On a sheet of paper or cardboard, lay out what the elements of the story will be. Keep your storyboard simple – use pictures and text to map out your camera shots and ideas. Then decide which elements will be best told in text, which one in video, which in still photos and which in audio or graphics. Remember that each medium should be complementary and not redundant or repetitive. They can, however, overlap a little over the different media aspects. This is way to invite readers to explore other mediums of the story.
The storyboard is a drawing of how the story should be told and doesn’t need to be fancy. It’s simply a visual guide for your storytelling. Storyboarding helps point out the holes in your story. It helps you identify the resources (time, equipment, assistance) you’ll need to complete the story, or how you have to modify the story to adjust to your resources. A good way to learn storyboarding is to take a newspaper feature story and draw out a storyboard of all the elements in it. You can then view all of the multimedia possibilities if it were more than a print story.