It’s my last semester of graduate school. I knew the semester would be hectic and the workload had potential to be immense. By design, I knew I wanted to have at least one more writing course – that’s where “Writing for Converged Media” (“Online Journalism) aka #Virtual300 came in. I’d entertained the idea of taking this class once before, but was advised against it by my former advisor – either because they didn’t think it would be beneficial to my degree, or because they didn’t really understand the course content. Whatever the reason, under new guidance I signed up, and what’s done is done.
There were five objectives: 1) to understand the various methods of digital publishing using text and multimedia elements, 2) to be proficient in the use of social media and blogs for journalistic endeavors, 3) to know the power players in online journalism, as well as industry trends, 4) to fully incorporate multimedia elements into online stories, and 5) to use WordPress.org as a content management system (CMS).
The first and fifth objectives complimented one another nicely. By using WordPress.org as a content management system, we began to understand one method of digital publishing. A behind the scenes look at the site allowed us to learn things from “new post” generation to creating photo slideshows and embedding multimedia (video, audio). Through chapter presentations by our peers, we learned about the various platforms and techniques for capturing and editing video (quality deemphasized), sound, and photographs. In addition to the “how to” aspect, we learned about where to host these multimedia pieces (YouTube, Flickr, and Sound Cloud) free of charge.
In the first session, social media presence was emphasized. During this time, we took a moment to learn about who the power players are in the journalism industry. By clicking “follow” on twitter, we were able to see content from the industry leaders – and it became clear (through having a constant flow – i.e. Associate Press, New York Times) why they led.
We were directed to begin building our social media presence using twitter, tumblr, and our own Word Press blogs. We used our blogs and two micro-blog accounts to share our content across the web. By doing this, our stories were published somewhere and had the opportunity to go viral – in essence, this was portfolio building and a necessary concept for us to understand.
The stories we shared were required to incorporate three multimedia elements, in addition to text and three photographs. In theory, the amount of multimedia per article would complement journalistic storytelling online. In reality, the amount was distracting and made the process more difficult than necessary. Combined with time constraints, I feel that quality may have suffered in the stories themselves, or the media pieces presented with them. Sure, it’s one thing to create a visual and interactive experience for the reader, but I don’t feel it should come at the expense of quality; something I think should be top priority.
Perhaps the quality-time-amount of media situation could be remedied if the course were offered in a room equipped with sound and video editors, in addition to properly functioning internet connections. That said, even with the pressure to produce, I am proud of all of my work this semester, but perhaps my article on marriage equality was my proudest achievement. I was able to secure an interview with an unlikely source and tell a story that was both relevant and mildly controversial. Not to mention, it was successfully received. I can’t see the “stats” for Virtual 300, but can attest that the article received 30 Facebook shares from my personal blog – an accomplishment if you ask me.