By Lila Carney
Assistant Director of Student Media
This summer, I attended the College Media Advisers summer workshop in Tampa, Fla. The things I learned completely blew me away. The capabilities and tools to enhance storytelling, some of them free, are endless.
Now that the academic year is about to begin, I’m sifting through some of the most inspiring things I learned to share some with my media students in hopes it will inspire them to do great things.
Some of my favorite sessions were the ones I took at the Poynter Institute. For years, I’ve heard wonderful things about Poynter. I describe it as Mecca for journalists.
One session I attended was about storytelling across platforms. The instructor showed us the publication “i” from Portugal which was awarded the world’s best designed newspaper. Some of the reasons why include form, color and variety of coverage. “i” is a small-format saddle-stitched daily that bridges the gap between magazine and newspaper. It varies the cover content including some features and photography. The paper incorporates lots of informational graphics and the staff is bold with its use of big photos. I think the students will love how different it is from what they’ve come to expected from a newspaper.
I’m a huge fan of photojournalism. The staff at Poynter introduced me to The Big Picture on boston.com. Every few days, they post a particularly poignant picture that really captures the feeling of a story. I like to think of it as the story told with just one look.
“Always get the name of the dog.”-Roy Peter Clark, a Poynter Vice PresidentThis is a quote the instructor shared with us as a great way to summarize the idea that good storytelling comes down to getting concrete, specific details that appeal to the senses, the things that make you feel like you’re there.
I also attended a session on mobile journalism where I learned about lots of different programs that allow for multimedia creation. Among them:
- Soundslides allows for the creation of audio slideshows
- Photopeach is similar to Soundslides
- Vuvox allows for photos and embedded video to be incorporated into simple multimedia presentations
- Photosynth takes multiple photos, blends them and merges them into wrap around panoramas
- Gigapan panorama, high resolution so there is zooming capabilities (U2 used this in a facinating way.)
- Dipity allows for timeline creation The Toronto Star created one after Japan earthquake. The Guardian did an impressive timeline leading up to the death of a local man after being beaten by police.
- Storify curate social media, organize how a story played out in social media
- Ushahidi is a way of collecting and mapping reports. Use of Ushahidi’s Crowdmap feature after Alabama tornados.
- Word Clouds: There are lots of different options out there, including http://www.wordle.net/. The Guardian did a fun one comparing presidents’ State of the Union addresses.
I’m so excited to share this information with my students over the next few days as they’re holding back-to-school training sessions. What will excite me more is when I see them putting some of these cool tools to use in their school work, their student organizations and eventually the professional world.