Reviewing multimedia journalism
Reviewing stories on NewsTrust Baltimore can be an interesting experience. By slowing down to read or watch a story carefully and answer specific questions about the quality of the journalism, we also teach ourselves how to look more critically at the information we consume.
In some cases, the stories lend themselves perfectly to our review tools. Other times, we may find there are additional questions that could be posed, or some that don't fit exactly right.
Lately, I am seeing a new challenge to reviewing stories -- the multimedia postings of several news outlets. In some cases, a primarily print and online news source, such as The Baltimore Sun, includes documentation video. Other times a television channel, such as WBAL, adds an edited or unedited transcript to its video online. And then there are more experimental sources, like What Weekly online, which uses photo journalism, video and type interchangeably.
An interesting discussion arose from a recent WJZ story, "Baltimore Journalist Missing In Libya," in which many reviewers focused on the text, which was a lightly edited transcript of the included video. It was interesting to see how much harder it was to comprehend the text, whereas watching the video gave inflection, tone, and context that added meaning to the story.
In the case of the City Paper article "Watching the Watchers," the unedited footage from subject Leonard Kerpelman’s camera gives valuable background information on the court case.
Here are some tips for reviewing multimedia stories:
- Review the story after reading, watching and listening to all media included in the story. This is ideal, as the producers intended all the media to be part of the story, and it will lend itself to the most accurate assessment of the journalism.
- Focus your review on the primary media type. Most sources have a primary media type that they use. For example, and audio clip from WYPR will most likely give you the full intended story.
- Use the 'Notes' window in the review form to review elements of the story that don't follow the standard review questions. It's easy to review facts and fairness, but what about sound quality, video editing, etc.? Your assessment of the multimedia elements of the story can help other reviewers to look more carefully at video and audio stories, too.