How to choose the best multimedia elements for your story

As you plan your multimedia story, you have to decide which tools would best tell each part of the story. Here are some guidelines for choosing different media.

  • Still photos are the best medium for emphasizing a strong emotion, for staying with an important point in a story or for creating a particular mood. They’re often more dramatic and don’t go by as quickly as video. Still photos used in combination with audio also highlight emotions. Panorama or 360-degree photos, combined with audio, also immerse a reader in the location of the story.
  • Good audio makes still photos and video seem more intense and real. Bad audio makes video seem worse than it is, and it detracts from the drama of still photos. Whenever possible, try to add the transcript of the audio.
  • Video is best for depicting action, for taking a reader to a place central to the story, or for hearing and seeing a person central to the story. 360-degree video can also immerse a reader in the story.
  • Maps can give a location or be layered with other information.
  • Animated graphics show how things work. Graphics go where cameras can’t go: into human cells or millions of miles into space. Sometimes graphics can be a story’s primary medium, supported by other media.
  • Text can be used to describe the history of a story or a process, or to provide accounts of an event. Text often is used when the information cannot be conveyed with other media.

Taken from Five Steps to Multimedia Storytelling, a self-directed course by Jane Stevens at Poynter NewsU.

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    Vicki Krueger

    Vicki Krueger has worked with The Poynter Institute for more than 20 years in roles from editor to director of interactive learning and her current position as marketing communications manager.

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