The Art of Multimedia Storytelling

Effective Multimedia Storytelling

“Five Steps to Multimedia Stories” is a Poynter online course dedicated to teaching the tools and techniques necessary to producing an effective online story.  The course utilized a case study about the “dancing” or sliding rocks on a flat area of Death Valley National Park.  The rocks, some as large as boulders, were inexplicably moving on completely flat ground leaving trails behind them as they moved.  The story chronicles the investigation of Dr. Paula Messina as she attempts to solve the mystery of the “dancing” rocks.

Some of the best advice on multimedia storytelling came at the beginning in the course overview.  There Poynter advises using the strengths of each medium to draw in users.  For example, using action for video, strong quotes for video and audio, powerful emotions for still photos and audio, as well as the inclusion of graphics.

The course also discussed drawing up a story board to organize the elements of the story.  It mentioned that the story should be non-linear so that the user can decide which elements to view.

Overall, the multimedia story utilized a multi-dimensional approach to covering the story.  It featured an effective use of pictures and graphics, as well as a table with raw data.  The story also included several video and audio clips featuring Dr. Messina and her research.

Perhaps most importantly, the course included several exercises to teach students exactly what equipment they would need to be an effective backpack journalist.  Finally, the course finished with some tips on how to edit and produce all the video, audio, still photos, graphics and text for the online audience.

Prime Examples of Multimedia Storytelling

 In my mind, the Minneapolis Star Tribune does a good job in presenting multimedia content for its stories.  All one has to do is look at their local news page to see a perfect example of multimedia storytelling.  Under the main headline about a Catholic Church reorganization plan, the user can see links to a PDF document with more information on the story, as well as a still photograph (see below). 

At Holy Cross Catholic Church in Minneapolis

However, if the user wishes to skip over this story there’s a video box with 10 separate local news video clips to choose from.  This variety of mediums is important for users.  It allows them to decide which element they’d like to view for their information.  If they want to read the text it’s available, if they want to view still photos they can or if they just want the video and audio that’s fine as well.

Another great example of multimedia storytelling won a Pulitzer Prize for feature photography.  It’s a story by The Denver Post entitled: “Ian Fisher: American Soldier.”  It tells the story of Fisher from the time of his high school graduation, to his decision to join the army, through basic training and a year-long deployment in Iraq.

The story incorporates a variety of still photos, video and audio, text and special features that chronicle the day-to-day life of one U.S. soldier.  The viewer can select from four separate menu options on the home page: photos, videos, story or extras.  The non-linearity of the package allows the user to find his/her own route to experience the story in their own way.

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HTML Exercise

HTML Tutorials

About HTML

There is a lot more you can learn about HTML. And the best place to turn for complete information on any topic related to Web design is, of course, the Web. The following sites offer helpful tutorials so you can learn more about HTML.

HTML Tutorials

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Minnesota Wild in Finland

As the Minnesota Wild prepare to play their first two regular-season games in Helsinki, Finland, an outpouring of support has them feeling right at home.  The Wild will open the season with back-to-back games against the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday and Friday in a place several Wild players know well.

The trip has been a homecoming for three Finnish-born players: forwards Mikko Koivu and Antti Miettinen, and goalie Niklas Backstrom.  Fueled by this strong hometown contingent, the Wild practiced in front of a few thousand rabid spectators Sunday in Helsinki, according to Star Tribune Wild insider Michael Russo’s story.

The stop was also an opportunity for Wild management to observe the progress of their latest Finnish import: 18-year-old center Mikael Granlund.  The young prospect was the Wild’s first-round draft pick earlier this year, and although some scouting reports stated Granlund was very close to being NHL-ready, the team wisely allowed him time to mature in his homeland.  The move appears to be paying off as Granlund has already accumulated 10 points in eight games in the Finnish Elite League.  The 10 points are second in the entire league, according to Russo’s blog.

Wild addresses back-up situation

After back-up goaltender Josh Harding went down Sept. 24 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his right knee, the Wild were left scrambling to replace him.  The top candidate was Anton Khudobin, who has played in only two NHL games at the end of last year.  Needless to say, the team was in desperate need of a veteran backstop to provide depth and insurance in case starter Backstrom goes down with an injury.

On Saturday, the team solved its lack of experience by signing veteran goalie Jose Theodore to a one-year contract worth an estimated $1.1 million.  According to a story by Bruce Brothers of the Pioneer Press, Theodore has played 548 NHL games, winning 240 of that total.  As a starter for the Montreal Canadians in 2002, he won both the Hart Memorial Trophy (league MVP) and the Vezina Trophy (top goaltender).

The fact that the backup position went from two to over 500 games of NHL experience could prove invaluable throughout the course of the season.  Khudobin put up impressive numbers in the two games he started last year, but that is far from a representative picture of future success.  In Theodore, the Wild have a proven quantity who has shown he can succeed, and at times dominate, at the NHL level.  His best days may be behind him, but the fans can breathe a little bit easier knowing he’s present on the bench just in case the worst happens.

It should be an interesting season, and starting Thursday we’ll know a lot more about our prospects for future success.     

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Examination of Online Journalism

As far as newspapers go, I have always held the Minneapolis Star Tribune in high esteem.  That respect has also extended to startribune.com, especially as it relates to their sports coverage.  In the aftermath of a Vikings’ game, the homepage is covered with a purple banner reading Access Vikings, which is a virtual one-stop shop for all things related to the team.  One of the first things a user notices is the number of links under the main story’s title.  They include, in no particular order, a link to video of post game press conferences (which also features a slide show of still photos from game action), a poll, box scores and statistics from the other games in week two and finally a link to further in-depth coverage of the team.  All of this information and multimedia is in addition to the story written for print publication.  Therefore, it is obvious that the vast majority of the website is created originally and specifically for multimedia users.  Only a small percentage of the content is drawn directly from the paper’s printed version, so shovelware and paper-plus material is kept to a bare minimum.  This type of multi-faceted coverage is true of all of website’s content, not merely the sports coverage.  The home page has links to dozens of news, entertainment and weather-related videos and pictures.  Seemingly every story links to video, side notes or stories, polls, blogs, photo galleries and podcasts.  One of my favorite aspects of the site is blog material, especially Michael Russo’s Minnesota Wild blog.  A blog allows for so much more content and information for the user, than the time and space constraints of print will allow.  It’s amazing to see how much a reader misses out on by strictly consuming print material.  In addition to all the features previously mentioned, the website allows for interactivity and the addition of user-generated content.  The site welcomes users to send in their own pictures and video for the public to see.  Overall, the website provides a myriad of options for the user to consume.  I’m drawing a blank in my attempt to find suggestions to improve the online reader’s experience.

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Thoughts on New Media

As I enter my final year of college, it occurs to me how seemingly little I know. For years, I focused solely on my creative as well as technical writing skills. Spelling, punctuation and grammar were infused in my thinking at the apparent cost of “new” media training. Needless to say, I was thrown into a bit of a panic when I encountered the seemingly endless demands of today’s mass communications’ professional.
Aside from the social-networking aspects, which I have been aware of for some time, I was surprised to see coding and basic computer-programming skills included in these discussions. I was totally unaware that this was included in our recommended skill set. The same could be said for the entrepreneurial and business-savvy qualities mentioned as important for the professionals of today. I do have to say, however, that I was happy to see that strong, traditional writing skills are as important today as ever before. This fact serves to inspire the confidence that I have at least mastered one crucial skill set.
It is fair to say that all of the new and social media skills will be the most important for me to learn. I say “all” because I’m behind the eight-ball when compared to my peers in technological savvy. I just created Facebook and Twitter accounts within the last six months or so, and I’m just beginning to gain some comfort with these applications. It’s sad to say, but I hooked up to the Internet for the first time at home in April or May of this year. So suffice it to say that this year will involve exposing myself to as much of this new media as possible before graduation, so I have some semblance of expertise for the working world that awaits.

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A Little Bit About Me

This is my first post.  I am a journalism student at Minnesota State University, Mankato.  I hope to update this blog regularly with my thoughts on the mass communications’ industry, sports and other thoughts on a variety of subjects.

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