The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Multimedia Journalists

1. Documentation

Running into the newsroom and editing audio, video and photos together to form an effortless multimedia project is so much easier when it becomes an integral part of your life. A good multimedia journalist should have a digital camera at all times (preferably one that captures audio, video and photos) to document everything from birthdays to bar mitzvahs, weddings to little league games. Then, when back in the newsroom, putting together an outstanding multimedia project becomes second nature.

For home multimedia projects, try any number of free applications including iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, Audacity, GarageBand, iPhoto, Picasa or one of many web applications that facilitate editing without the need for software.

2. An Adventurous Spirit

Many journalists who are now at the forefront of the industry took their first step toward new media when they experimented in a medium different from their own. That means podcasting if you’re a magazine person or doing stand ups if you’re a newspaper hound. Once you have mastered another medium, its easy to pick up another one. Learning video editing after learning audio editing is very similar to learning French after having studied Italian. A journalist with a wide range of skills better serves their audience (and probably has a higher-paying job).

3. Blogging

Writing a blog is as easy as keeping a journal, but with instant gratification and feedback. A new media journalist should feel compelled to blog, whether its about personal or professional matters. Writing on your favorite topic, even if it differs from your beat, is a great way to stay invigorated and excited about journalism. If a blog is written in conjunction with an established news site, it’s a great way to speak more freely and to have an ongoing dialogue with readers about the issues that are important to them.

4. Social Networking

Whether its LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, hi5, Orkut or any of the hundreds of sites on the internet, social networking is key in meeting not only other journalists, but possible experts in your beat. Consider CarDomain for car enthusiasts, Flixster for movie buffs, or FanNation for sports fans.

5. Networking (IRL)

There is never a bigger chance to learn about the future of journalism and technology and the people behind it than at one of the many conferences held across the country. It’s an opportunity to see what’s happening in journalism right now and what new applications and equipment will likely have to be reckoned with in the time to come. It’s also a great way to meet the faces behind the names and kibitz who journalists who face the same issues and work load. After all, you can’t stay behind a computer screen forever.

Summer is a big time for journalism conventons, so its best to start planning now. USC Annenberg has a list of journalism organizations and I’ll see you at ONA, UNITY and NLGJA.

6. Social Bookmarking

Your audience knows more than you do. Often a local story or even a potential Pulitzer Prize winner has been circulating the internet for days before it is covered by mainstream news media. Be the first to know what’s going on (and impress the boss in the process) by keeping a finger on what’s news on the web. Sites like, StumbleUpon, Digg and many others are made up of millions of people aggregating what’s news to them and should be news to you.

7. RSS-ing

Many old school journalists who are just starting out in new media have no idea of the wealth of support and reference material available online and seasoned journalists may have missed a blog that is a perfect resource. Old or new, who has the time to scour the web checking to see if their favorite blogs have been updated? That’s where RSS readers like Google Reader, NetVibes, PageFlakes, Bloglines and many others come in.