Using Multimedia Journalism to Convey a Story about Modern Segregation

In today’s day and age it is often times easy to point fingers at social media and other multimedia news outlets, and accuse them for diminishing the traditional newsroom atmosphere. However, in the case of Seattle Time, ProPublica, NPR take home 2014 Online Journalism Awards recipient Nikole Hannah-Jones, multimedia journalism intimately bound with insightful journalism brings on, in my opinion, a whole new era of journalism.

http://www.propublica.org/article/segregation-now-the-resegregation-of-americas-schools#melissa

The article up for “dissection” for this week’s Student’s Choice, linked to above, is a blend of multimedia that effectively creates a piecemeal story regarding present day segregation in United States Schools.

The stories begins with a blast of photographs and animation, and while scrolling through the photos and text, while at first a little overwhelming, the overall effect is very stark.

After this very creative introduction the piece unfolds into plain text, however throughout the text the reader is confronted with a multitude of interactive specimens that add greatly to the story.

For example, when the article discusses the decrease in diversity of schools across the nation, a figure is included where one can search one’s own school district and look-up the statistical diversity of that district. This very personal and powerful mechanism for interaction, is an absolutely spectacular method in which to both engage the reader, and likewise make a true premise for the news that goes far beyond plain text.

Following this further, the article continues on and breaks the story into segments with fantastically integrated photos and a time line, all of which create a truly remarkable means to tell a story that might otherwise have been overlooked.

However, is there a downside to this article’s use of multimedia? One could argue that the photos and breaks in the story detach the reader and are distracting from the element of the story. Yet is there a better way that this would have been reported?

In my opinion, multimedia can be very powerful if used correctly, and given the right story the art of journalism can be found in its purest form. This piece is definitely a case in which multimedia can be argued to have enhanced rather than hindered the story, however are there any aspects that you would have changed to better report this story? Why?

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About caitlinutt

I am an upcoming senior at the University of Michigan, majoring in Interdisciplinary Chemical Studies with a minor in Japanese.

5 Responses to “Using Multimedia Journalism to Convey a Story about Modern Segregation”

  1. I agree with you that this piece is very good and interesting to read. I thoroughly enjoyed how they made me want to keep reading and the pictures between the sections were great context for who or what was being talked about.

    However, in response to your question about what I may have done to improve the piece, I would have to go with organization. I felt like maybe the article would never end and I had no gauge as to where I was at within each part of the 3 series. I think if they had a navigation tool to the left of the article that followed the reader through and was clickable so you could choose a section or go back to a particular section while reading would be quite helpful. It seems a bit cluttered or hard to read as stands, solely I think, because of the lack of context for where in the article the reader is at. The top toggle tool for each chapter is helpful, but just doesn’t seem like enough.

    I really prefer to know where something starts, where the halfway point is, and where the end is – like a roadmap. And with this particular organization, I found that to be agonizingly impossible.

  2. Where this story gained in images and stories, it lacked in focus. I first thought this story was about Melissa Dent, shown with large letters at the top. Then it quickly switched to Judge Frank McFadden and Tuscaloosa case. It then changed to a story about Central High School, and so on. They eventually start to tie into each other, but this article was not direct enough with too many side stories. Yes, they all were revolved around segregation, but there was no main focus and they did not clearly explain why this is important to them and why I should be concerned. It lacked a clear answer to the “Why should I care” question. The moving stand alone quotes were eye-catching, but had no ground to stand on since there was no explanation for them. I feel that there is a sea of information that needs to be cut down and organized so the reader can have a more solid grasp of what the main motive is.

  3. I was hoping that the author would have gotten to their main point earlier. As we talked about it class, it lacked clarity. Getting to the main point is an important quality, because you may lose readers if they think it is about something else. Being concise and precise also seems to be more important than including a lot of information, so they could have benefitted from cutting down.

  4. Great article Caitlin!

    I would argue that the use of multimedia was very effective, and I don’t think it was distracting to the reader at all. Reading a long piece of text can get dull after a few paragraphs, so I think the way the article was broken up made it a lot easier to read. Without the breaks it would have been a very long article.

    I also argue that because of how relevant the photos/map/video were, this made the article more effective. If the article was broken up as frequently with items that weren’t as important to the material, it would have been really distracting. The author did a great job of keeping the readers interested.

  5. I really enjoyed this choice. The “separate but equal dispute” is truly one of the most controversial issues to ever effect our justice system. As an African American woman who has done a lot of reading on the subject and the “Jim Crow Era”, I thought this piece was informative and lengthy—but necessary. I loved the graphic effects and the timing of the wording over pictures as you scrolled down the page. I also really enjoyed the quality of quotations. I am sometimes weary that the multimedia effects will take away from the message but in this specific instance, I felt the transitions and the color scheme contributed to the seriousness and importance of the piece. The photograph of Melissa with people sitting on her porch was brilliantly contrasted against the AP classroom and picture of D’Leisha Jones. Ultimately, I enjoyed this piece and the way the graphics and effects helped convey the message and the disparities in quality of life as a result of differences in education.

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