The Power of Multimedia Storytelling

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For class on Tuesday, March 17, read the “Drilling Down” boxes in the Briggs book on pages 148 and 164, as well as the “Newsroom Innovator” profile of MSNBC.com’s Stokes Young on pages 168-169. Then watch this four-minute audio slideshow by The Washington Post, “No Greater Love.” (From the main project page, click the first of the three slideshows — it’s the one on the left. You may need to update your computer’s Flash plugin.)

Also, if you are intrigued to learn more about this story after watching the slideshow, read photographer Carol Guzy’s accompanying epilogue about her experience reporting this story over several years.

Stokes Young says the promise of multimedia storytelling is to provide what he calls an “immersive experience: bringing the story to viewers through multiple senses and, hopefully, bringing viewers into stories — the experiences of other folks — in ways that increase understanding.”

By noon Monday, March 16, leave a comment on this post (worth 5 class participation points) answering one of these questions:

  • Did “No Greater Love” deliver an “immersive experience” and, if so, how?
  • Would this story have been more or less powerful if told through video rather than through sound and still images?
  • Would this story have been more or less powerful if it used voiceover from the journalist, rather than relying entirely on sources for narration?

13 thoughts on “The Power of Multimedia Storytelling

  1. I chose to address the last question though I do believe the story was the right amount of immersive and I think the stills were a better choice than video would have been. The fact that they used the source as a narrator was a perfect choice I think. Classie’s voice would have been up for interpretation and the I wouldn’t have gotten the same pit in my stomach when Rozzie died if the narrator was the writer of the story. I felt her emotion throughout the story. The pictures offered just the right amount of intrusion into Classie’s life rather than recording her at all times. I could see who she was and how she sounded but I didn’t feel like I was intruding on such a sensitive time. The thing that really got the waterworks going was the epilogue. I shed a few tears reading that because it shows that even as a journalist doing your job it is sometimes impossible to completely distance yourself from your subject. Having dealt with Alzheimer’s in my family I felt a connection to the heartbreaking story.

  2. “Would this story have been more or less powerful if told through video rather than through sound and still images?”
    The story is powerful enough on its own that really either medium would work, but I do think the still images complimented the story most. The photographer utilized so many different angles. Most of the shots had so many levels to them, and having a few minutes to analyze the stills before moving on really helped the audience grasp the dynamic between the sisters. I do think a video would be powerful as well, but the stills was such an interesting, new way to tell the story that it definitely stood out more. Classie narrating the as the stills progressed brought another powerful layer to the story. Overall, the stills was definitely the right editorial call.

  3. I absolutely believe that “No Greater Love” offered an immersive experience. By using audio from Classie, specifically about their lives together and talking about things like how good a dancer she was, provides readers with so much more about not only her sister but their relationship. The slideshow really roped me in emotionally, and I feel like I could almost make the slideshow into a video in my head.

  4. “Would this story have been more or less powerful if told through video rather than through sound and still images?”
    I believe that the story would be way less powerful if told through video. I loved getting to see the still images with their pictures to guess who was saying what and who was who. It was interesting to not see who was talking and having a mystery of which person was speaking at the moment. A video would be nice just to see how the sisters interacted, but from their audio conversation and the still shots you could clearly see their relationship. It was definitely very powerful to see the pictures after the sister died and hear the audio of the other sister. It definitely bring out emotion in any viewer just as much if not more than a video would. The audio slideshow is definitely a unique concept and brings a different dynamic than a simple video or picture gallery.

  5. “Would this story have been more or less powerful if it used voiceover from the journalist, rather than relying entirely on sources for narration?”

    This story didn’t need an outside voice. I believe that if the story had used voiceover from the journalist it would have made this story less powerful due to the fact that Classie could tell the story all on her own, she didn’t need an outsider narrating her story. To understand the emotions Classie was feeling, it was necessary for her voice to stand alone along with the few other voices, because those people were there when these things were happening – the journalist wasn’t. The journalist did not have a place in this story. I think it would have significantly affected the way the story was told because the journalist can tell the audience how Classie was feeling, but they cannot show the audience the emotions she was feeling without showing tone of voice and letting herself and the others that were present during this time speak for themselves.

  6. I personally think this video would have been less powerful if it was told through video rather than sound and still images. The still images, along with the different sources of narration truly captures how Classie’s love and caring nature for her ill sister, Rozzie. The still images along with the different sources of narration powerfully tell how Classie lovingly cares for her younger sister. The still images effectively highlight the audio. Video is continuously in motion, showing different images rapidly, while “No Greater Love’s” still images allow for the viewers to get a better understanding of the message. I think by not having too many things for the viewer to look at, the still images in “No Greater Love” clearly, yet simply show the poor state of Rozzie and Classie’s loving care.

  7. Did “No Greater Love” deliver an “immersive experience” and, if so, how?

    “No Greater Love” was an exceptionally immersive experience that was augmented by the love and compassion clear in Classie’s voice. While the story of Classie and Rozzie is powerful enough to stand on its own, without audio and visuals, the audio slide show gave readers the opportunity to truly share Classie’s pain. As a reader, I immediately connected with Classie. A one-dimensional, written story would not have the ability to include audio of Classie crying when her sister passed away. That raw, unadulterated emotion is what fueled the impact of this story and made it significantly more compelling.

  8. Would this story have been more or less powerful if it used voiceover from the journalist, rather than relying entirely on sources for narration?

    The story would’ve been less powerful if the voice over was from the journalist. Hearing the sources voice helps understand the pain they were going through. The journalist voice would have made it less personal. The sources were telling the story instead of a journalist.

  9. I believe that “No Greater Love”, without a doubt, delivered an “immersive experience” to it’s audience. It documents what Classie is saying, but also demonstrates it in pictures to give viewers the full effect. I actually felt like I was in the room with Classie and her younger sister. I felt Classie’s loss when she laid her head on the bed after she lost her sister. Yes, the story would have been touching in print, but it delivers much more of an emotional experience through audio and visual representation like photos. Stokes Young states that a slideshow should affect the viewers “through multiple senses” (Young 168). It’s safe to say that “No Greater Love” does just that.

  10. Did “No Greater Love” deliver an “immersive experience” and, if so, how?

    I think that this story did bring me into the story completely. I really liked the way that the photography showed the viewer different points in time. That was very powerful to me because you could see Classie taking care of Rozzie and then once she later died how Classie reacted. You could really capture all of the raw emotions Classie was feeling while taking care of her sister for all of these years. I felt like having Classie’s voice was very powerful and brought the viewer into her home and her daily life caring for her sister. I thought multimedia storytelling brought this story to life way more than just words on a page could.

  11. “Would this story have been more or less powerful if told through video rather than through sound and still images?”

    At first I wasn’t in love with the way this story was presented. I didn’t find the pictures and was expected to hear more of the journalists voice. However, when it got to the point where they showed Classie waiting for her sister something changed for me. Hearing her speak about what it’s like to take care of her sister and then also having the nurse talk really pulls you into the story. I think with a story like this it would be impossible to film it’s entirety because it’s unethical to film something dying- that’s a private and spiritual experience not meant to be on film. As someone who has lost someone at home (their place of comfort) and looking back on that experience, I think the photos do great job of showing what it’s like to lose a loved one. After a loss you remember those trying times and raw moments as snapshots in your life. I think the photos are a great touch and very compelling. This was a beautiful story greatly told.

  12. I chose to answer the second question for this assignment. The story was incredibly powerful on its own, and no matter how it was told would have been powerful, however, I think that the stills photographs were the best way to tell the story. I think it was the way the still photos literally gave snapshots from the lives of these women and allowed us to see them but force us to use our imagination a little more than video would. Also by using only still images, you get only that moment in time, making that becomes a special moment. I also thought that the still images and Classie’s voice came together to create something incredibly powerful. I just lost my grandfather who had very severe dementia and what I remember are moments and stories and while watching this slideshow was hard, it felt almost familiar to how I have been feeling about/ dealing with the loss of a loved one.

  13. Would this story have been more or less powerful if it used voiceover from the journalist, rather than relying entirely on sources for narration?

    I believe Classie’s narration was far, far more powerful than any other voice would have been. Her voice is so expressive, distinct and loud that it was immediately striking and arresting when the story started. I as a viewer was very drawn in through the raw emotion in her voice. I believe the journalistic team made a wise stylistic choice by removing themselves almost completely from the story, choosing to let photographs and Classie’s words speak for themselves, as the story truly was through her eyes. I noticed one of the only insertions of fact was the clarification of date of death. While I think of course Classie’s sadness conveyed what had occurred, that bit of factual information didn’t at all detract from the overall storytelling.

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