Arts coverage + multimedia = a beautiful marriage

You can't talk to print newspaper reporters for very long these days without getting into the subject of online multimedia. It is not enough anymore, it seems, to just be able to scribble coherent and informative sentences. Now you must be able to collect audio, blog, shoot pictures and video, and edit them all together in coherent and informative packages for the Internet.
There are basically two camps on this:
  1. I'm a writer and I didn't sign up for all of this other stuff.
  2. This is an exciting way to explore new ways of telling stories.
Both sides have equally valid arguments. But arts journalists and editors should be leaning toward and looking for ways to execute No. 2. It is true, being a strong writer does not necessarily make you a good multimedia reporter. But the Internet has opened up a great new venue for arts reporting.
After all, what are the arts, except for literature: sight and sound.
But considering most local TV news outlets wouldn't cover an arts event unless the concertmaster shot the conductor or the theater burned down, arts journalism, at least in my nearly -- I hate to say this -- two decades of experience has been relegated to the written word. It's not that we don't love the written word -- look what I'm doing now -- but there have definitely been times that I have wanted to be able to show the readers how beautiful this voice was or how funny that scene was.
Budgets being what they are, a lot of midsized papers don't have resources to hire new videographers or other multimedia producers. But an industrious reporter can learn new tricks and maybe persuade some people to partner with them. At the Lexington Herald-Leader, I've enjoyed this trying to chronicle the final concerts of the Lexington Philharmonic's music director of 37 years, George Zack, in audio and video. The most recent was an audio slide show in which photographer Matt Goins and web producer Todd Van Campen enthusiastically collaborated, and the video, above, created by my former partner-in-crime, Jamie Gumbrecht.
No, they aren't perfect. But they are progress and they are showing viewers our local arts in different ways, maybe even generating some new interest.
Yes, there is a gloom and doom atmosphere in journalism in general. But in arts reporting, we should embrace the opportunities the web presents as a potential renaissance.
May 5, 2008 8:57 AM | | Comments (0)

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This page contains a single entry by FlyOver published on May 5, 2008 8:57 AM.

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