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Best of Multimedia Journalism April 7, 2007

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Convergence, Journalism, News.
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Noteworthy this year in the Best of Photojournalism Best of the Web contest is the use of sound to enhance visual storytelling. The emergence of the audio slideshow is popularized with Soundslides, a program used widely by news Web sites.

Imaging technology drives change in photojournalism. This time, the tools driving change are led by the ear, not eye. In the toolkit – a tiny digital audio recorder and software that combines sound and image

Photo galleries have been the main way to display images in Web journalism. But they limit the storytelling experience because clicking images sequentially or randomly lacks the context a print photo essay can provide. A print layout with captions adds an extra layer of information to the images.

Now, sound storytelling offers a dimension that a series of online photographs cannot provide. Like television in journalism, sound augments image to add layers of information – a sort of “caption on steroids.” Until recently, bandwith limited the potential of the Web as a visual storytelling tool. Dial-up speed restricted images to the size of a postage stamp.

With increased bandwidth, photo editors and Web designers are now looking at new ways to tell stories with larger images . The still image will endure as a journalistic tool, but photojournalists have to work to extend their storytelling capabilities.

Ambient sound and a subject’s telling of a story provide evocative context. These multimedia elements complement perfectly the documentary photograph, providing a sort of “caption on steroids” that enhance the experience.

The economics of new media have not caught up with its storytelling capabilities. But for traditional journalists game to dip their toes in the new media game, investing in a mini disc recorder and microphone is probably a smart first step. So the next time you’re out in the field, don’t just shoot, give your subjects a voice.

Related read:
Mastering Multimedia

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