Multimedia Journalism: Theory v. Practicality

This post is one in a series covering the multimedia sessions at the 2008 UNITY Journalists conference

A few minutes ago, I walked out of a session I intended to cover called “Adventures in Multimedia.” When asked why by a colleague, I responded that I can’t stand multimedia journalism theory. One can hear said theory when media professionals discuss the state of the industry and its decline and that multimedia is its savior. They discuss how we need to bridge the gap between print and online through video, Flash and other multimedia elements.

But what the panelists and some talking heads fail to impart is the practical tools to make this happen. Often newsrooms talk about convergence without equipping their reporters with the proper knowledge of online tools, either through training or workshops. The best multimedia journalists are sometimes those who take it upon themselves to learn the various tools in a multimedia journalist’s arsenal, without prompting from a supervisor or employer.

The online revolution in journalism will never happen unless news organizations make a financial commitment to training their existing staff and making an investment in the future of the company.