Richard Koci Hernandez on Multimedia Journalism

Richard Koci Hernandez, professor at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Richard Koci Hernandez, professor at UC Berkeley Graduate School of JournalismRichard Koci Hernandez, an Emmy Award-winning producer, worked as a photographer for San Jose Mercury News for 15 years. Now, you can find him at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. His work has appeared in Time, The New York Times, and Newsweek and recently he shared his thoughts about multimedia journalism with Ebyline.

Multimedia journalism is not just about using all the available technological tools to tell a story; it’s also about picking the right tool to express the narrative. With technology always changing, it’s important to keep up-to-date on the latest trends and innovations. Right now, Hernandez said, mobile is the “darling of the revolution.” Mobile devices have shifted the way journalists and freelance writers think about, produce, and present stories. He also emphasized the rising focus on data as part of a journalist’s necessary skill set:  both finding relevant data and visualizing it in infographics.

It’s really only been in about the last five years, Hernandez said, that the idea of multimedia journalism has “exploded” in the newsroom. Fifteen years ago, photography departments were forced to “be in the technological muck” with the switch from film to digital, but reporters were still doing the same thing. It was only later that the opportunities of the web caught on with the wider newsroom, and eventually traditional print media started to incorporate online video and audio slideshows.

Multimedia has become so important that major publications, like the LA Times and The New York Times, have created entire departments devoted to it. Additionally, there are foundations (such as the Knight Foundation) that have invested large sums of money to re-train seasoned, print journalists from across the country in the latest technology – who then go back to their publications and disperse the new information.

Whether you’re an old pro at traditional media or a novice looking to dive in with the latest trends, Hernandez has some advice. The foundation for multimedia journalism, from his perspective, is learning how to take well-composed and well-lit photographs. Eventually, this skill will lead to a better foundation for learning video. He notes that, finally, no video would be complete without audio – and not just any audio, but good audio. “Good video is 51% good audio,” he explained, and poor audio quality will hurt your project far more than poor video. The solution?  Learn a little about microphones and how to pick the best format to record your audio in.

All this will come together in a “Multimedia 101” graduation project (so to speak):  creating a visual narrative, or slideshow, composed of still images paired with audio clips. For an easy means to put something like that together, he recommends soundslides.com – created by journalists for journalists to facilitate “ridiculously simple storytelling.”

With your first multimedia narrative at your fingertips, there’s no time like the present.

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