Multimedia journalism is out-of-the-box thinking. – DJ Clark, Multimedia Journalist

Multimedia Journalist DJ Clark led the International Multimedia Journalism master class during the Avond van de Buitenlandjournalistiek (Evening of Foreign Journalism) on November 29, 2011 at the Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The International Multimedia Journalism master class is one of the six master classes offered during the day.

Each master class was attended by about 20 journalists.

The evening was sold-out to 200 journalists.

Telling the story differently

With technology growing exponentially, a big number of newspapers are folding-up around the world. In the advent of digitalization and paperless publishing, there is less need for newspaper workers. News is more often presented on television or online, requiring the need for interactive reporting. This could mean that more and more journalists will lose their jobs, if they do not go update and upgrade their skills.

To back this up, Clark showed a newspaper extinction timeline, where it is pointed-out when the newspaper in its current form will be irrelevant in different countries.

However, Clark maintained that good journalists need not worry since they will still be in demand. “Good journalism is still at the core of what you do, you just need to tell the story in a different platform,” he said.

DJ Clark shows newspaper extinction timeline during the master class.

A different platform

Clark has been a multimedia journalist for more than 20 years. Aside from being a multimedia reporter, he also trains journalists in the developing world to enable them to produce content for multimedia platforms.

He defined a multimedia journalist as someone working across media platforms, a journalist who incorporates not only the pen in his story but also photos, videos, audio, social media and graphics. “The story is still at the heart of being a good journalist but what you do as a multimedia journalist is that you have a range of tool at your fingertips and you use the most appropriate tool at a given moment.”

Asked how he knows which platform to use on a given story, he replied: “Most of the time, it comes naturally.”

He started as a photojournalist and admits that a background in photography could be very useful for journalists who want to make the change to telling their stories with moving images. “It is not difficult for a photojournalist to go into multimedia journalism because it is not a question of learning new tricks, but just pushing a different button,” he explained relating to the use of modern DLSRs. He further expounded that photographers do not need additional special skills to do this, they only need to know where the video button is.

Tips, tips, tips

Clark regularly reports for the China Daily, an English-language newspaper based in Beijing, China. His beat involves Asia and Africa. As a multimedia journalist, he normally submits a story in four platforms, namely:

1. A story containing only music and video

2. A story with a voice-over and interviews

3. A story with slideshow and voice-over

4. Self-narrative (a story that focuses on an interesting character within a story)

He asserted that these are the basic platforms in which a multimedia journalist should publish. For every story, he encouraged multimedia journalists-to-be to make sure that they get visuals and ambient sound which “brings people in the story”.

Clark showed examples of his work in the above-mentioned platforms during the master class. He also gave tips on how to produce great video like recording movements by just allowing subjects to pass in and out of the camera instead of making camera movements (e.g. panning, zooming). He directed those who want to learn more about multimedia journalism in their own time to

The importance of convergence

He pointed-out the role of convergence in the future of multimedia journalism where the television, the camera, the mobile phone and social networks all play major parts.

“Multimedia journalism is out-of-the-box thinking.”

He mentioned publishing for tablets as an example which China Daily and many news networks around the world are using at the moment. This is not only to show that a media network is moving with time but also to reach a wider audience which in this case would be tablet or mobile phone users who read the news while on-the-go or at a later time in the day.

Part of Clark’s presentation is to show the peak reading time of tablet and mobile phone users.

With the use of social networks, he advised that one should be ready to engage in the conversation. Normally his videos get published on a Wednesday so he also considers it as his busiest networking moment when he would reply to viewer’s comments.

Freedom + innovation = future

Asked what he likes best about multimedia journalism, Clark points to the freedom and innovation that comes with it.

“I enjoy the flexibility of multimedia journalism as a way of storytelling. The fact that you are able to do different things, that you are not tied down (to any platform). I like the innovation around it. To really think about how to use a much more flexible platform in different ways to tell a story, I enjoy that very much.”

Asked about the future, he maintains, “There is no doubt that we are moving to the digital platform. The question of quality is still there and it is not easy to maintain good quality but it is very important. There will always be specialists – writers, video makers, producers – but multimedia journalism is becoming the norm and more and more journalists are going into that direction.”#