CAMP 2013: Pictures and sounds

By 2013 JAWS Fellow Jackie Fortier

JAWS Pictures and Sounds Session
Photo / Karen Cheung-Larivee

In their session, “Pictures and Sounds,” Emmy-winning multimedia journalist Carrie Ching and author and multimedia journalist Erin Siegal McIntyre shared how to use visual and audio tools and techniques enhance storytelling.

Lauren M. Whaley moderated the panel as Ching and Siegal McIntyre presented several examples of multimedia projects done right, including:

Snowfall – An example of a linear narrative from the New York Times.
Firestorm – An example from the Guardian, covering the bushfires in Australia. Like Snowfall, it has a linear narrative, but Firestorm incorporates visuals into the presentation.
Jennifer’s Room – An illustrated project Ching directed while at the Center for Investigative Reporting telling about the abuse of an institutionalized disabled young woman.
Tomato Can Blues – An example of primarily a print story with pockets of illustration. Like Jennifer’s Room, Tomato Can Blues uses illustrations as a tool of investigative journalism.
Symbolia – An example of a tablet magazine of illustrated journalism created by new JAWdess Erin Polgreen.
El Rey – By Siegal McIntyre, El Rey is an example of building narrative with visuals having equal weight as a script. Allowing the visuals to carry the story has a much more emotional impact on the viewer.

They also suggest checking out the National Film Board of Canada.

Ching and Siegal McIntyre both edit audio and visuals in Final Cut, especially since they are aiming for a visual product. If you’re just getting started, you may also edit audio in Audacity, then import the file into a simple video editing program such as iMovie to create an audio slideshow.

A couple other key points from their presentation:

You Can Multipurpose Content – You’ve already done the work of finding the story and getting the interview. If it serves the story, why not add another dimension? Ching says “the simple audio slideshow should not be overlooked, it can be powerful like One in Eight Million.” Ching produced Suburban Junkies with audio collected from a radio reporter. Multimedia allowed her to explore a different, in-depth narrative that was only briefly covered in the shorter news story.

Break It Down – You can make a complicated issue simple with multimedia. Boil it down with illustrations, pictures and audio. If you’re more familiar with print, think headline writing. There is a space between art and journalism. Think different and keep it simple.

Ching and Siegal McIntyre also suggest asking yourself the following questions when you’re putting together a multimedia piece:

Will this multimedia advance the story? Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Think about it from the viewer’s perspective. Where do you want the reader to stop reading and watch a video clip? Will it interrupt the flow of reading, or will it answer a question they may be asking themselves?

What will make the story stick in the head of your viewers compared to how it may have been told by other media? In other words, what can you do differently?