Multimedia journalism workshops focus on telling the world’s most underreported stories

Photo by: Rich Beckman

Deng Jianguo and Lu Liu, two participants from Fudan University, China, were looking at each other's video footage in an editing session of the workshop.
By Shell Jun Zhu

An international multimedia workshop sponsored by the Knight Center for International Media was held at Hong Kong Baptist University from April 13-17, 2009. The International Multimedia Workshops for Ethical Reporting on the World's Most Underreported Issues attracted journalism professors from all over the Asia, including China, Singapore, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Mongolia and Taiwan.

Directed by Rich Beckman, professor and Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the University of Miami School of Communication, the workshop was designed to inspire educators across Asia to begin teaching multimedia skills in class to improve their journalistic storytelling.

"The goal is to work with them on developing assignments and content related to the mission of the Knight Center and to empower them to begin the necessary curriculum changes in their journalism and communication programs," Beckman said.

Using skills acquired at the workshop, participants will now begin working with their own students to create stories focusing on the world's most underreported issues, such as poverty, urban migration, environmental sustainability and gender equality.

Participants were taught hands-on multimedia reporting techniques by professionals and practitioners in the field.

Jim Seida, senior multimedia producer at MSNBC, started the first day of the workshop by covering audio content gathering and editing skills. This was followed by a workshop on video reporting, taught by Ben de La Cruz, producer at The Washington Post. Kim Grinfeder, assistant professor at the UM School of Communication, taught an all-day session on Web production.

"Multimedia has the potential to produce better journalism by giving subjects an active voice," said Beckman during a lecture on multimedia teaching and curriculum design on the last day of the five-day workshop. "Through audio, video and data visualization, we now have the ability to personalize stories, provide additional depth and involve our readers."

Beckman also said that participatory learning motivates students to excel and empowers them to work on meaningful projects that can make a difference.

Workshop participants are expected to return to their classrooms and begin developing multimedia stories on underreported issues in their cities. These stories will become part of the Knight Center's World Cities anchor project. Based on underreported and underrepresented stories in the media, the World Cities project will draw attention to some of the most urgent issues of the time through research, multimedia training and the production of compelling media products over significant blocks of time.

Assistant professor from Fudan University, China, Deng Jianguo, one of the 17 participants of the workshop, said he had a first rate learning experience. "It fulfilled my expectations very well by showing us the best multimedia examples and getting us involved in real practice with forerunners of the industry," Jianguo said.

Professor Sanjeev Chatterjee, vice dean of the UM School of Communication and executive director of the Knight Center for International Media, led a discussion with all participants about the world's most underreported issues. Using the United Nations Millennium Development Goals as a framework, he involved the audience in thinking about developing multimedia stories that can help bring better understanding of these important but underreported issues across national borders.

"We are interested in developing relationships with colleges and universities that are preparing the next generation of journalists and communicators for success in their lives and careers," said Chatterjee.

A lively discussion about setting ethical standards for the practice of journalism across borders was the highlight of the workshop's closing session.

The Knight Center for International Media expects to create a connected network of 100 universities and colleges around the world through a series of multimedia workshops over the next five years.

Multimedia content developed through this network over the next few years will create a valuable body of journalism focused on global issues that affect us all but fail to find consistent coverage in the media.

The next workshop will be held at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa, for teachers and trainers from across Africa in September 2009.

Posted on April 22, 2009