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#VOJ10: The realities of multimedia journalism

June 11th, 2010Posted by in Comment, Events

I’m in track 2 of the POLIS/BBC College of Journalism Value of Journalism conference and we’re discussing innovation in journalism, the importance of content and the practicalities of being a multimedia journalist.

It features multimedia journalist and notonthewires co-founder Alex Wood (chair), freelance multimedia journalist Adam Westbrook, CNN journalist and notonthewires co-founder Dominique van Heerden, freelance and former BBC video journalist Angela Saini, and multimedia lecturer and VSC Creative director (and also notonthewires co-founder) Marcus Gilroy-Ware.

Once they introduced themselves, we’re onto the practicalities of the jobs.

Saini, who said she got fed up of the daily pressure of being a VJ, says she’s come full circle and is now spending time on separate radio or print projects – which are of better quality. She also notes that we haven’t yet got an editorial layer of people who have actually been VJs on the ground, who understand the realities of the job. The most successful multimedia journalists are the ones who know their subject inside out, she says. It’s key to be niche. As for the freedom now she’s not a fulltime VJ: “I do much meatier stories… than I did before…”

Someone asks whether there can be too much focus on technology. “What does it enable us to do?” says Gilroy-Ware, answering with a question. There’s too much emphasis on products, he says. Saini adds that she doesn’t see herself as an innovator per se (she’s only just got on Facebook and doesn’t use Twitter) but she’s in the multimedia field. The younger generation don’t feel a pressure to do tech; they do it because they enjoy it.

Adam Westbrook, who has written an e-book on making money online, says he sees enormous potential in self-publishing. But Saini points out the obvious: that her money is still made from the big organisations.

Some very interesting experiences and contributions from the audience: are we misleading students by encouraging them to get in…? Do traditional news orgs understand how multimedia can/should be used…

And someone asks just what is notonthewires; business model etc…

Giroy-Ware says it’s about multimedia journalism being taken seriously: “really embracing the bottom-up cultural change that needs to happen in the news industry.” Van Heerden says it’s about pairing up with big partners. Gilroy-Ware talks about Steve Jobs’ ‘Beatles’ business model and says they’re also looking to the ‘band’ element as a possible commercial opportunity.

Meanwhile a ‘Is Content King?’ poll is running behind the panel, up on the screen, powered by UltraKnowledge. Participants can “#ukn5yes” for YES or “#ukn5no” for … NO. The yeses are leading… (I personally find this one a bit tricky to answer, and don’t know what it really means, but that’s probably for another blog post)

Gilory-Ware says ‘make the journalism you want to make’ – chances are others will like it too. It’s a nice positive note to end on, but I have a feeling not everyone would agree with that.

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