Multimedia journalists Karla Leal and Diego Aparicio describe the advantages multimedia provides to news stories

By: Luis Federico

Can the three little pigs and the big bad wolf cause havoc to our nation? According to Karla Leal and Diego Aparicio, if they weren’t fictional characters, they could, thanks to multimedia.

On Monday morning’s first session of Mass Comm Week, Leal and Aparicio discussed how multimedia is shaping the way in which news stories are told.

The session started with Leal and Aparicio showing an advert by the Guardian newspaper that demonstrates how multimedia has become an integral part of news. According to Aparicio, who works at Univison in Austin, the Guardian, which used the advert to sell their product, also demonstrated how multimedia could be used in place of the traditional platform, the newspaper, to tell a story.

Leal, who works at Telemundo in Austin, gave students insight into what she described as “elements of multimedia report.” According to Leal, these elements, which are text, audio, graphics, photos, and video, are helpful to make a story more attractive to the reader. For example, Leal says video is essential to an action scene, while text can be used to provide enough background information on a multimedia report.

Leal also told students to take advantage of today’s multimedia because it puts them out there to employers, which is something that wasn’t available in 2005 when she graduated from college.

“It just takes you to a whole new level,” said Leal. “You as a personal brand, you as a student … it just really puts you out there.”

Leal showed how different news stories incorporated some of these elements to better tell a story, such as, combining photos, audio files, and interactive maps to create a picture timeline. Using these elements in such form gives users options, says Leal.

“You chose what you want to see and listen to,” said Leal. “It’s all there for you. A couple of years ago we wouldn’t be able to display something in such detail, so that’s one of the great perks of digital journalism today.”

Aparicio also shared with students how they can use multimedia to impact metrics for their employer, which use multimedia based on the idea that users don’t read as much anymore.

“To an extent is true, and to another degree is not true,” said Aparicio. “It’s true that the reading span of the user is a little shorter than it used to be, but readers are not stupid, when you are pushing them too much with a story, telling a story through photos … some readers might not like it.”

This, says Aparicio, is the reason why so many stories are told with multimedia. A downside to this, says Aparicio, is that metrics can become the important aspect of a story, rather than the content of the story itself.

Leal also showed students how these multimedia tools helped her put together a story on cancer awareness called “Lucha Contra el Cancer,” which means, “Fight Against Cancer.”

“I wouldn’t be able to do that on Television for example, just on my newscast,” said Leal. “Once I learned about these tools I was amazed.”

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