Future of Science Journalism Symposium | Cambridge, Mass. | 20 February 2008
Packaging your reporting for the YouTube and video game generation
Presentation: Download (PPS file, 2.8 MB)
Understanding Multimedia Packages
Even if you do not learn to design and build digital assets for your stories, you can begin to understand
the ways in which these assets are used. What are the elements of a finished multimedia package? If you understand this, you can work with people who can translate your story into visual formats.
- Audio slideshows: Bicylces,
Beer and Bratwurst in Bavaria (simple slideshow with narration). Compare: In 2006, this 4,000-word science story about bananas won the AAAS Science Journalism award for magazine writing. Read it -- and imagine the wonderful slideshow (or video) we could have had on the Web site.
- Video: Don't use video for facts and data. Use it for motion -- and emotion. Imagine this 4-min. video (Possibilities for the Impossible; Washington Post) as a lead-in to a story about spinal injury research. (It was a cover story in The Washington Post Magazine.)
- Animated infographics: Homicides
in Boston in 2006 (Boston Globe; very simple); California
wildfires, 2007 (Newsweek; this is simpler to build than it
may appear); Deadly
Rampage at Virginia Tech (New York Times; awesome visual storytelling); Climbing Kilimanjaro (New York Times; unique and interesting).
- Interactive animations: Mouse Party (University of Utah Genetic Science Learning Center); Manufacturing
Chocolate (from the Field Museum, Chicago); Explore the Human Heart (National Geographic); Stonehenge: A Sacred Landscape (Guardian, 2004, still one of my faves).
- Interactive data: How Does Your Car Stack Up? (PBS News Hour Science Reports); Is It Better to Buy or Rent? (New York Times).
- Big packages: Vanishing Wetlands (St. Petersburg Times; this is rather too large but still
demonstrates how Flash can be used to combine a lot of disparate elements
in one place); TOPP (Tagging of Pacific Predators -- this is the future of science journalism, in my opinion, except ... it's not journalism! Or is it?).
- Interface: Folk
Songs for the Five Points; the timeline segment within Churchill
and the Great Republic -- both of these examples are unique, and neither one is about science, but they will help
you see the real potential of multimedia journalism.
General Information About Multimedia Journalism
Often when journalists refer to "an interactive," they mean a
package built with Flash.
The Flash player (currently at version 9) is used
by more than 90 percent of all Internet users. The player is
free; the application (used to make SWFs) is expensive. To view a
Flash file on the Web, your Web browser uses the player as a plug-in, and
you see the Flash content in-line on the Web page.
My book can be used in journalism classes for hands-on Flash
instruction and assignments: Flash Journalism: How to Create Multimedia News
Packages (Focal Press, 2005).
Popping the Hood on Science Journalism: How Wired's Science Team is Pushing Transparency: Are you using Twitter, Facebook and del.icio.us to tap the expertise of your readers?
Teaching Online Journalism
My blog about digital storytelling and how newsrooms are changing.
Frequently updated list of free online tutorials and resources.
Journalism (the book): At Amazon.com
Web site for the book
An assortment of professional examples are linked on this
Organizations for Science Journalism
World Federation of Science Journalists
National Association of Science Writers (United States)
Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at MIT (open to journalists from all countries)