Defining Multimedia

At first glance, the definition of multimedia seems quite simple. After all, it is built right into the word, isn’t it? Multi = many. Media = the primary means for mass communication. The most obvious and common definition is the collective use of many media types–such as text, audio, graphics, animation, video, and photographs–to convey information.

What’s missing from the definition above is a sense of the complexities that arise in conceptualizing, producing, and packaging multimedia content. Likewise, the word itself has been used in so many fields in recent years that its specific definition also depends on your professional perspective. When placed in the context of a specific field–like business, education, or medicine, for example–the term has more specific connotations.

To complicate matters more, working journalists use the term “multimedia storytelling” in a variety of ways. Although most are referring to digital content, some types of content often get more play than others. But regardless of how news sites present multimedia content, media convergence, cross-ownership, and a general migration of journalistic content to the Web have all led to increased focus on multimedia in contemporary journalism. In this context, multimedia refers to both a presentation outcome and a journalistic practice. Thus, this book approaches multimedia as a way to recognize the many tools journalists now have for telling stories and as a form of packaging news and information.

Topics Covered

Audience trends: Current media consumption trends focus on visuals more than ever before. Visual rich media-such as video, photographs, and information graphics have become attractive story forms to contemporary audiences.

The evolving media landscape: No one could deny that the Internet has precipitated dramatic technological innovations. In order to stay relative, traditional media companies are embracing the web as a medium for delivering multimedia content and involving audiences in new ways by utilizing social media tools.

Practicing multimedia: Today’s journalists need to be adaptable. You cannot rely on skill with a single tool or technology. Learn to identify great stories and tell them in the manner most appropriate for the content and the audience.

The multimedia journalist: The stakes have been raised as emerging journalists are being challenged to build on the foundations of the craft by adding new media skills to their repertoires. Today’s multimedia journalists need to possess strong writing skills, know how to use multimedia tools and software, and be able to asses the multimedia potential of stories and determine which story forms are most appropriate.

Multimedia ethics: From the start, critics have warned that the Internet has the potential to threaten journalistic credibility for established news organizations. Perhaps the most significant ethical issue is the notion that multimedia journalists rely heavily on technology as a means for gathering, processing, and distributing information.

A context for multimedia: Traditional foundations of journalism are as important as ever. Likewise, the most traditional journalistic forms–writing, editing, design, graphics reporting, photography, video, and audio–are important and powerful story forms. This book will explore the conceptual aspects of multimedia storytelling, including navigation, interactivity, functionality, and usability.