By Jennifer Jett
The need to learn a a range of story-telling skills can be daunting but there are some basic tips that anyone can master.
That was the message presented by New Media specialists at the Asian American Journalists Association’s (AAJA) inaugural Asian conference on June 11.
“Increasingly, news organizations want journalists to be multi-platform, cross-media storytellers,” new media researcher Andrew Lih, who teaches journalism at the University of Southern California, said.
But print journalists often find it difficult to shoot video, Lih said, because the equipment is complicated and sometimes draws unwanted attention in the field.
One solution, he said, is to give novice video journalists simple strategies like the BBC 5-Shot rule to guide their shooting.
This calls for a close-up on the hands, a close-up on the face, a wide shot, an over-the-shoulder shot, and another shot from a different angle.
Lam Thuy Vo, multimedia editor at The Wall Street Journal, encouraged reporters to be creative in the field and think about different ways to report the story.
“To know how to do that [multimedia reporting] properly and to know how to organise your reporting while you’re in the field, you need to understand which medium serves your story the best,” she said.
Video, for example, is better for feature stories and profiles, she said, while charts and graphs make large amounts of data more comprehensible.
Krista Mahr, an environmental reporter for Time Asia and Time.com, emphasized the importance of checking equipment beforehand and practicing as much as possible.
“Every time I go into the field I make a technical error, and I think that they’ve gotten less and less severe as I go out,” she said. “So now I can pretty much get through editing a piece where I’m not having to edit around big holes and problems that I’ve created in my own work.”
Margaret Conley, a JMSC alum and former video journalist for ABC, is now Bloomberg’s Shanghai correspondent. Her advice for journalists was to find ways to leverage being one person in the field and be prepared to adapt to constantly changing technology.
“You just have to keep changing and keep adapting and just stick with your focus on the basics of storytelling, which will always remain the same,” she said.