The Power of Multimedia Storytelling

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For class on Tuesday, March 1, read the “Drilling Down” boxes in the Briggs book on pages 164-5 and 178. Then watch this four-minute audio slideshow by The Washington Post, “No Greater Love.”

In a previous edition of Journalism Next, NBC News Vice President 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 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 29, 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 think the Washington Post audio slideshow “No Greater Love” delivered an immersive experience. It did so by using touching images and heartfelt dialogue that allowed viewers to really get a sense of what Classie and Rozzie’s loving and adoring sisterly relationship was like. I think it was smart to only use the sources’ dialogue instead of including a journalist’s voiceover because the journalist may have taken away from the emotional ambiance of the video.

  2. I don’t think the story would have been more powerful with a voiceover from a journalist. The voices present in the audio story have such unique perspectives that a journalist’s voice would have sterilized the story, and would have put a barrier between the listener/viewer and understanding the two sisters’ relationship.

    Having a journalist’s voice in the mix would have also disrupted the overall tone. Classie Morant is portrayed as a strong, loyal, and caring woman and sister, and to have a journalist tell her story would not seem right. In this case, I think the journalist was right to keep her voice out of it to preserve the spirit and strength of Classie and Rozzie’s relationship. She understood that oftentimes it is better to sit back and let the story tell itself. And I think this was one of those stories.

  3. This was such a powerful story and I think a major part of that was being able to hear Classie’s voice throughout. If a reporter had narrated the story, the love and passion would have been lost. For example when Classie spoke about how Rozzie used to dance and kiss her boyfriends, you could hear the joy in her voice and her laughter, making it easy to imagine her expression and picture Rozzie doing so. Being able to hear Classie’s voice really added another layer to the story, making it feel like you were there and were speaking with her rather than having it reported to you.

  4. So precious.

    I think this story would have been more powerful with video rather than just through sound and still images. It would have made the sisters seem more alive. There are so many times I desperately wanted to see Classie in action- cooking in the kitchen, feeding her sister, Rozzie, stroking her face in the bed. Classie’s voice is so powerful, but I want to see the shake in her voice, her laughing when she talks about Rozzie’s boyfriends, and her crying when her sister dies. I don’t feel like this presentation transitioned well. Briggs suggests to “include a photo of the speaker at the beginning of the talk so the viewer knows who is speaking” (178). There isn’t a photo of the nurse before she starts speaking, and it never shows the preacher or the man singing at Rozzie’s funeral.

  5. I think “No Greater Love” was really well done and provided an immersive experience. As a fan of photography, I thought the photos were very well done and really drew me in. I do not think that video would have been more powerful. I think that the pictures told the story beautifully. At times however, I had trouble understanding the speakers. I wish there had been captions of subtitles to help with that. However, that could have just been me getting lost in the pictures more than the words. I think that it was nice to have the actual people speaking and not the journalists. I really thought it was very touching, both the story and execution of the slideshow.

  6. I think that the part of the power of this story, “No Greater Love”, is the way it is told through sound and still imagery rather than using video. I think the photographs speak thousands of times louder of how close the sisters were and of the life they shared together. I also find that hearing Classie’s own voice talking about the events in her life with her sister was more touching than if a video was used, because there wouldn’t have been the same sense of emotion and connection to Rozzie. I also think that the opening part where she is actually with her sister trying to get her to drink is extremely powerful, you can hear the emotion in her voice and a sense of how deeply she cares for her sister. However I don’t think the story is as clear as it could be in this form, and that there should be better indications when the nurse is speaking.

  7. I believe the still images provide an impact that is equally as powerful, if not more, than video would have. The slideshow allows each image to soak into the viewers mind and leaves room for deep thought and attention to detail. Some of the images, in particular the living view of Classie sitting on the couch, could not have been included in a video. The images provide detail that motion could not achieve. I was able to notice things in the background, and really allow myself to feel the emotion from the specific snap shots of time. Video is somewhat expected in narratives and it was refreshing to experience emotions from a different medium.

  8. I think “No Greater Love” would have been much less powerful if the story was told through the journalist’s voice rather than by the sources themselves. Hearing Classie’s voice is what makes the slideshow immersive and the impact is very emotional. While the images themselves are moving, the sources’ voices for narration add a personal touch that brings the story to a different level. By hearing Classie’s voice you feel more connected to her and her story. If the journalist narrated the slide show that would add a degree of separation between the viewers and the content, which would lessen the impact.

  9. I think a video would have made “No Greater Love” more powerful. I found the sound and still images boring compared to a video format. I also found it harder to follow the story line through images and Classies voice. Though some of the pictures invoked strong feelings in me as a viewer, others seemed quite basic and could have used video to appear more interesting. In my personal opinion, video engages an audiences better than still images and makes it a better story telling experience. Unless the images are truly artistic and inspiring, they don’t keep attention as well as continual movement.

  10. I think this story would have been equally or slightly less powerful with video. With the slideshow you were able to see more than just an interview. You got to go through more in time, see where they lived, and how they lived. It was overall very powerful. With a video you could have gotten that as well but not in a four minute time span. With images you could also linger on one particular moment for longer to really get a point across.

  11. What an incredibly moving story. Maybe because it is late and I am tired, but I definitely shed some tears watching an older sister share her unconditional love for her younger sister. This 4 minute audio slideshow was able to fully convey the emotion and love that was clearly present between these two women. There was something about the still images that made the story very powerful to me. I do believe if this had been a video with the same voice over of Classie speaking it would have been just as powerful, but I do not think the sound and the still images left anything out. I only hope I can be as good as an older sister as Classie was to Rozzie.

  12. This story could bring you to tears. Having a sister of my own, I sent this to her and told her that I would do the same. In response to the second question, because I do not know what they could have done with video I do not know if it would be more or less powerful. But, what I do know is that a picture captures a thousand words. The picture of the caretaker sister on her stair-chair with the picture of Obama’s face on the television just shows how old, and how much this woman has gone through. But it shows her strength in the same breath. The picture of the two sisters smiling in the bed brought a smile to my face.I think this was a very powerful journalism tool. I felt the love radiating from Rozzie and Classie. You could see how fragile and strong the two sisters were.

  13. I definitely felt that No Greater Love delivered an immersive experience. I feel like the pictures gave a more indepth feel than video or written would give because you could really focus on parts. It let you see the situation but at your own pace and focus on what you wanted to focus on. I liked how voice clips were in the background as well because I could listen to Rozzie and Classie as well as their lives going on. It was beautiful hearing the pastor in the background describe the lives of the sister and it allows the listener to gain an emotional connection.

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