Multimedia storytelling – have we seen the future of journalism?

By Antje Bormann

Could Multimedia Story-telling be the new journalism? Who are its clients and how can it work commercially?

Brian Storm, founder and executive producer of multimedia production studio MediaStorm, came up with some assured answers during a most informative and positive presentation about journalism and its future at the Frontline Club.

Storm touched upon some ways to structure a multimedia story to make it compelling viewing: establishing empathy with the character(s); using body language, which makes up 80 percent of communication. Storm spoke about ‘back-timing’, having a visual element in the imagery that challenges a statement that has just been made.

Visual sequences should be little essays, moving without extreme cuts from wide to extreme close-up. The viewer’s eyes should be able to stay in the same place and remain on the point of interest when cuts are made. Storm also advised taking tills in the same format as the video, 16:9, to avoid letter-boxing or crops in the edited piece, and as much ruthlessness in editing by subtraction as you would be when selecting your portfolio.

Being passionate about still photography, Storm had been shocked to learn that newspaper readers spend no more than 0,6 seconds looking at an image. Embedding images in a multi media story encourages viewers to engage with photography beyond a cursory glance, he said.

Storm described the four strands of the agency’s work; publication, project specific agency work, production work for others, and teaching online and workshops.

Editorial work for partners has developed as NGOs and non-profit organisation begin to seek partnerships with journalists rather than straight marketing to get their message out. They are more frequently turning to journalists for their skills and are often prepared to pay better rates for projects than regular editorial clients. 

A question about photographers ‘crossing over’ raised the issue of video work compromising the stills photography. Storm replied that one needed to allow enough time for ‘hunting’ (getting the right stills) and ‘fishing’ (filming).