Teaching Examples

Practice for multimedia reporting
November 14, 2006, 4:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Here’s an excercise I give my students in a reporting class:

View and study at least three (3) of these stories:

The students know there will be a quiz on what they viewed, so they are pretty good about looking hard at the examples.

Then in class (after the quiz), we discuss what they think about the packages — especially in terms of comparisons. What we’re trying to discover is — what works well? What doesn’t work? What makes a good story?

I do not claim that these examples are the best or the worst. I do claim that if you pick three and examine them, you will see three different ways to handle a story.

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5 Comments so far
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So Mindy, which stories worked for your students and which didn’t?

I have been using Google Analytics to track how long someone stays with one of my online videos or audio slideshows. I was surprised to learn that the average time a viewer watches, is the actual length of the show. I bet reporters would love to have readers stay that long with their stories.

I guess my point is, if you do a good job with the storytelling then the viewer will stay with you.

I judge whether a multimedia show online is successful or not by how fulfilled I am at the end. My reaction is the same whether it’s a huge project or a single audio slideshow. By fulfilled I mean: Did I get a reaction from the piece? Did I mutter, “that’s was cool” under my breath; did I feel empathy for the subjects? If not, then I probably clicked the back button long before finishing.

Comment by Colin Mulvany

I will find out what the students think next Tuesday. But from past experience, I can guess that their opinions will differ. Some will say, for example, this isn’t news! When one says s/he really liked one or another example, another student will disagree. People are very diverse! I have been surprised sometimes by how long some of them stay with a long package.

Comment by Mindy McAdams


I had my editing class students do this assignment yesterday. Interestingly, they all mentioned length as a problem in many of the packages. The videos seemed to just go on and on. There were complaints about the “newsiness” of the packages, and they were put off by ones that didn’t allow a user to control sound (especially sound).

For them, I tied it to the class by mentioning that they should be aware of this

Interesting exercise, thanks for that.

Comment by Murley

Yes, my students always complain about the length. They often say, “Who would watch this?” in a very exasperated tone. Not about all of the examples, of course.

When you say there were complaints about the “newsiness” … do you mean LACK OF newsiness? I get that one a lot from students.

Comment by Mindy McAdams


Yes, the lack of newsiness, as in “this isn’t really news,” which goes with the territory, speaking as a former feature writer. 🙂

However, I had to concur with a couple of the observations re: newsiness. It just felt like they were doing multimedia to do multimedia, and didn’t know when to say when.

Then, there was one complaint that I found particularly astute – about the step team package, which they found to be one of the better packages. Basically, they thought the text oversold the content – that it was about step teams bringing lots of folks together, yet the only people interviewed were african-american, and the text promised to show “a glimpse of what stepping is” and yet there were only still images, and all the sources were former students (as opposed to current students) from one high school.

Comment by Murley

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