Richard Koci Hernandez on being a multimedia shooter

The second part of Chris Jordan’s interview with Richard Koci Hernandez of the San Jose Mercury News is live at

“The days of the one-talent journalist are over.”
“If I have to watch another three-minute soundslides…my head’s going to explode.”*

Richard gets deep into the shift from working as a solo photojournalist to collaborating with a team of reporters, shooters and editors.

On one hand, a multimedia shooter or producer or editor needs to communicate with the folks in the newsroom they depend on.

Then again, Richard talks about sending a one-man-band to MacWorld, who programmed a Flash stage, shot stills and video, produced the finished product on his own.

What’s the future of multimedia production at newspapers? A guy in the newsroom waiting for reporters and photogs to show up with the content? Reporters cutting their own audio, photogs editing their own video?

It seems like this is working out differently at every paper. What works for you?

*A little context: Richard was talking about using a 30-second soundslides show with just a few pictures as being a strong way to illustrate a story. Go listen to the whole thing.

AUDIO SLIDESHOW: “The seals are talking to me” – Sentinel Multimedia

I’m looking for some feedback on this one. I had some idea of what I thought we could do with it before the reporter and photog went out, and gave them some ideas. Pretty happy with what they came back with. Let me know what you think.

AUDIO SLIDESHOW: “The seals are talking to me” – Sentinel Multimedia

The next step after multimedia and interactivity? Just add data.

When I find myself face to screen with an online news site that is still in the Nightly Shovelware Posting stage, I think of two things: How can I add multimedia to this, and how can I add interactivity to this.

I think a lot of us go the same route, especially those with more background in photography or Web development than straight-ahead text reporting. We think: How can I make these pictures move, and how can I get readers involved in this story.

What we might miss in our efforts is the opportunity to take advantage of one more element the Web presents better than print:


Computer-assisted reporting has been around for years, but now here we are with tools like MySQL and Django and Google Maps and more. Each one of these things can be a thousand times more effective at building a story out of information than an Excel spreadsheet.

Matt Waite, a reporter with the St. Petersburg Times, posts this call for mashing up data with your multimedia and interactivity chops:

“Blogging and Flash and video skills will get you a job, no doubt, but they’re only one part of the web. Being able to present data along with your blogging, your Flash graphics, your videos, will have employers bidding for your services.”

As usual, there’s more to news on the Web than just posting pretty pictures. So the next time you wonder “What’s next?” after you add multimedia and interactive elements to a site — and if you ever think you’re finished adding those two things, congratulations — start looking for ways to integrate database work and analytical journalism. Your readers will thank you.

Joe Weiss talks to Poynter about Soundslides

Joe Weiss, the photojournalist/programmer behind Soundslides, tells Poynter all about it:

“I think that if you just started to do them, the audio slideshow is gonna take about four or five times what it would have taken just to do the assignment visually. … I think what we’re seeing in the industry right now, is that the people who learn these skills, add these skills to their bag, they’ll get on an assignment where they have more time, or they’ll really listen to the assignment and say, wow, there’s great audio here, this could be a great narrative. Then they jump on those.”

via Andy Dickinson, who has been posting tons of great stuff about working with video at newspapers lately.