Storytelling Across Platforms

One of the most amazing aspects of the web is its ability to combine all platforms of journalism into one single entity. Websites wrap videos, sound, text, still photos, and live broadcasts into one neat, nearly everlasting realm of information.

The web has become a free-realm for journalists, enabling us to use multiple forms of communication to express our story. Yet, before you go running for the fields, screaming to the world that you have broken ties with AP guidelines and can express yourself however you wish, there is a challenge to be met with this new freedom.

These multiple platforms wrapped into one neat bundle means that multiple strings of ethics follow close behind. Strings, that if not acknowledged, can lead to your bundle following apart, and your credibility ruined.

Online journalism makes us responsible to hold into account the standards of multiple platforms, rather then just one.

“If you want to be a multimedia journalists, you have to get smart about audio, video, still photos, and text. And how all of those work together”, says Kelly McBride, the Ethics Group Leader at the Poynter Institute.

If you put a video on your site or soundslides, it is crucial that you know the guidelines of broadcasting. If you put sound, it is important you understand the guidelines of radio broadcasting.

Research other platforms’ ethical guidelines because you will be held accountable for being in compliance with them.

In Kelly McBride’s lecture at the University of Florida in January 2008 she explained the importance for online journalists to “recognize that most users will only see a portion of your content”. Thus, that one small piece of content can be responsible for the entire package’s credibility.

It is evermore important to ensure that you address ethical issues promptly in every aspect of your work. For multimedia journalism you’ll “need a fundamental grounding in each of those issues, you need to practice it. [Get] feedback from other people that specialize in those platforms,” says McBride.


Yolanda's Story

This is an example of “Storytelling Across Platforms” gone wrong. This piece comes from the Dallas Morning News. They did a feature story on a young woman named Yolanda, who was smuggled, unwillingly into the United States by her uncle. The soundslide created to tell Yolanda’s story is extremely controversial. Look at it, and see if you can identify the issues and how it relates to Storytelling Across Platforms.

*This example was given at Kelly McBride's (Ethics Group Leader at the Poynter Institute) lecture at the University of Florida in January 2008.