The Power of Multimedia Storytelling


For class on Thursday, Oct. 13, 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. Wednesday, Oct. 12, 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?

20 thoughts on “The Power of Multimedia Storytelling

  1. I think that the story would have been much less powerful if the voiceover had been done by a journalist rather than the sources. By using the real characters of the story to narrate the story, viewers are able to connect on a much stronger level as they hear their true emotion in their voices. I think that by choosing to use primary sources to voiceover the images viewers can identify much more with Classie. Hearing Classie’s voice made the story especially impactful and, I do not think any reporter could recreate this level of emotion and power in his or her own voiceover. After Rozzie passed away, viewers heard a voiceover section of Classie very upset about her sisters death. This part was extremely heart-wrenching, but if a reporter tried to summarize this scene I do not think the same affects would have occurred. In general primary sources are much stronger sources to use than secondary sources and, this story is no different. By using Classie’s own voice the story becomes much more powerful than if it had been regularly reported by a journalist.

  2. Yes “No Greater Love” delivered an “immersive experience”. Even though it was a four-minute video, the video was well executed. The video followed many of the guidelines in the book “Journalism Next”. The photos were no longer than five seconds, plenty of detailed shots, and the captions throughout the video facilitated a better understanding of what was going on and what was being said. The narration of the actual events while the coinciding photos also was a great touch to make it an “immersive experience” because I felt like I was there experiencing what 104-year-old Classie Morant was feeling. Just like Val Hoeppner said, “Remember that you are telling a story. Multimedia is more than a buzzword; it is a powerful storytelling tool”. And that was exactly what this video presented.

  3. I think “No Greater Love” did deliver an “immersive experience.” The combination of nat sound (especially during the funeral) and intimate images of the family and their home allows viewers to imagine themselves there. The story arc also helps viewers get to know the family and feel for their loss in a way that isn’t possible with a standard written news story.

  4. I think “No Greater Love” delivered a more “immersive experience” than a regular text post-I was moved by the pictures and narration BUT it would have been even more powerful if it were in video AND the voiceover was done by the journalist. As soon as the clip began, I wished it were in video-I wanted to see interaction between the sisters and the other characters who were narrating-It would have brought the story more to life. And I was a little lost in the video, in regard to who exactly was saying what and how they were related to the Laney sisters. I think the journalist could have narrated some of it, giving the audience more direction and telling the store a little more. I feel like the video story was a little incomplete and could have been more powerful.

  5. I personally was not prepared for what this video made me feel, and it left me crying in my bed while watching the still images and hearing the voices of these sisters. I think this video was completely immersive because while there was no video, the pictures gave visual representations that to me were more compelling than video because you had to fill in the gaps. Each image made you think extremely hard about what was going on in the picture, while videos sometimes give the viewer permission to not pay close attention to what is going on on-screen. While normally I would not be a huge fan of stills instead of video for news stories, for this one i think it was more important to listen to the voices and take in the images than to let a video do it for you. I think it was much more powerful for the viewer to have to connect the dots between each picture and listen to the sound of the 104 year-old sister’s voice than allow a video to just show you the story; here, the viewer has to think. I think this story was incredibly powerful through the voices used as well because there is no way that a journalist would have been able to convey the same emotion and depict the same essence as the sisters themselves, and after listening to this, for a journalist to try to tell this story without the voices of the sisters would be a huge loss to the story and its impact in its entirety.

  6. “No Greater Love” was well done with the still images and made an impact however I think that I could have created more emotions through video. The photos used were well done and expressed the right emotions at the right time (photos went well with the narrating) but i think the video would have created more emotions because the movement and the touching between the sisters could have been powerful. I did not like how the person talking was show in the photo, it looked funny to me because their mouths were not moving. If they showed he women talking about her sister and she kept changing facial expressions then there would have ben more emotions portrayed.

  7. I do agree this video gave viewers immersive experience because we heard it first hand from the woman’s sister. If someone else or even the reporter did the voiceover, I don’t think it would have been as touching. I believe photographs and videos can be powerful in different ways. As a photographer, I always capture the details to make sure each image tells a story. There are sometimes I look at a photo and I feel as if there is no story there. Then as a videographer, the motion and sound has to be visual appealing to keep one’s attention. So, if something is no making sense, then you lose viewers. I liked hearing the sister’s voice because I felt more connected. I could feel her emotions and what she was going through, and I could not have felt that through a journalist.

  8. I think this story would be much less powerful if it used voiceover from the journalist. The voice of Classie makes the story what it is. Her voice is weak, but it drives the story even more because viewers are able to realize just how much work it is for a 104-year-old woman to care for her younger sister. I think one of the most important parts of this story is when Rozzie passes away and the viewer hears Classie crying. Her voice paired with the photos really show how much emotion was packed into that moment. I don’t think that would have happened without Classie’s voice. The journslist did a great job reporting but the story was driven by the voice of the subject.

  9. While the pictures used in “No Greater Love” are very moving and help tell the story wonderfully I feel that the use of videos would help make the video a little bit more powerful. I feel that constant video would be a little too much in this case but short clips to help portray the reality of these women’s lives would definitely help make the story more powerful. This is not to say that the pictures weren’t powerful but video would help give more raw emotion. Although this is a different question, the combination of using sources to narrate helps give the pictures more power without necessarily having to use video. I kind of just went against my initial thought but ultimately I think video would make it more powerful.

  10. This story would have been less powerful if the voiceover was done by a journalist. Because the voiceover was solely primary sources, the story was more personal and emotional. Classie’s voice told the story in a beautiful and heartbreaking way–in a way that no journalist would have been able to do. You can hear the raw emotion in her voice: how elderly she is, how tired she is, how much she loved her sister. Hearing her cries was far more powerful than hearing a journalist say “Rozzie died and Classie sobbed on her bed.” It was “showing” instead of “telling” the story, even though she technically was “telling” it. The way Classie speaks allows the listener to create scenes in their mind, along with the photos in the slideshow. The other voices do a good job of setting the scene and telling the story of the two sisters, and the music was fitting to the photos. I also think that this story is a bit too intense for video to be used. I like the photographs that were used because you could imagine the sisters living together and what their daily lives looked like. I think that video would have been a bit too emotional. The photos showed moments in the lives of Classie and Rozzie, and those who knew them.

  11. The story would have been far less powerful if the journalist had narrated the entire picture slideshow. Viewers get to hear the sincerity and emotion in their voices, which could not have been captured by the journalist. The music also adds a lot of drama and emotion to the story, which allows the viewers to feel like they are in that moment with the sisters. We hear the sadness in Classie’s voice when her sister dies, and the photographs match perfectly with the scenes being talked about. We connect with Classie and the intense sadness she is feeling through her voice. The journalist did a great job telling the story of these two women who loved each other endlessly.

  12. I think the story would have been much less powerful if it used voiceover from the journalist. It would have taken away from the authenticity of the story. You can really feel the emotions of the sister and if a journalist interjected with voiceover it would take the audience away from the emotion of the experience. This is a moving story that doesn’t need the coldness a voiceover can sometimes bring to a story. It would take you out of the story but hearing just the people involved brings the viewer into the story. There is a very strong immersive experience when you can see the pictures of the sisters and hear how she took care of her older sister there is no need to interrupt the powerful understanding we get from the SOT. I felt like she was talking to me and having conversation telling me how much she loved her sister and how selfless she was dedicating her life to take care of her. I do think it would have been nice to get video with parts of what she was saying so you could see the emotion on her face but other than that this was very powerful and moving with out narration.

  13. “No Greater Love” is an immersive experience with an impact that a written story couldn’t possibly capture. The photos and audio roll help guide the viewer through the story in a more consistent way than video could accomplish. If the story were told through video, it would feel more like a documentary and may not be able to capture the details the way the photos and audio did together. That being said I also feel like the voiceover would have been less powerful had it been narrated by the reporter. Even though it was difficult to understand Classie at times, the emotion that came through her voice was too authentic to be left out, and couldn’t possibly be communicated if a reporter was narrating.

  14. I believe the video would have been more powerful if it was chosen to be told through video rather than sound and still images. While the multimedia package is nonetheless emotional, and the use of still images allows viewers to really be in-tune and listen to the people speaking with the voiceovers, I think it’s hard to evoke as much of an emotional response through still photos over footage just because video allows viewers to be “transported” and truly experience what the cameramen/journalists are capturing. Overall, the smooth transitions and editing with the still images as the voiceovers overlap in a coherent, effective manner and tell the story well, integrating clips of videos or choosing to package the story through video would have added another deeper layer.

  15. I absolutely believe that this video provided viewers with an immersive experience. The use of Classie’s voice was beyond powerful, giving us the chance to imagine she was sitting with us and telling us the story, herself. When Classie began crying after the death of her sister, the use of her voiceover displayed nothing but raw emotion, something that cannot be expressed by a journalist’s voice.

  16. (I apologize for the late response):

    While the slideshow was emotionally moving and followed the majority of the points made in Brigg’s book (not all, but I think it was enhanced by the lack of captions, because that forces the audience to truly listen to the narration as well as focus on the images), I’m hard-pressed to find a photo/audio compilation that couldn’t be further enhanced with video instead. For example, by showing Classie’s reaction when talking about Rozzie’s death – even if just for a moment before cutting to a clip of the empty bed or further shots of the now-lonelier house – would illustrate the depth of her grief perhaps more than still photographs and narration do.

    However, given the sensitivity of the context, this slideshow does an incredible job of displaying to the audience the tight-knit bond the sisters had without stepping over any boundaries, which video footage can be prone to doing in the wake of a tragedy.

  17. At the beginning of this video, I did no expect and was not prepared to be so emotional. I’m not necessarily the type of person to be moved by a picture slideshow, but the way everything was strategically organized and how the voiceover went along with the photos is just very moving. It definitely did cause an “immersive experience.” I think if the story would have been told through video, it would have been a lot more powerful. However, being such a sad story could have been a lot more difficult to watch, I think that’s why this form of storytelling worked so well with this story.

  18. (I apologize for the late response. Completely did not read the time it was due when I scanned it over earlier)

    I think how effective the story is by video or by slideshow depends on what message the writer is trying to get across. By presenting the information in this way, the reporter tells a story over time of these two women relationship. In video format, I feel like the article would have been more timely and would not have the same feel of advancing before and after the sister’s death. At times, though, I did find this slideshow hard to follow. I found it discomforting that I didn’t know who was talking at times; however, ever without knowing who was talking, I still understood the love and the hardships that these women went through. I think video could have alleviated this discomfort by showing the interviewee speaking; however, that would take the focus off the two women. For this story of love, though, I do think the audio and visual was more effective since it focused in time the emotion on the face of the sisters. Video tends to glide past this intense emotion since so many other things occur in videos.

  19. I think that this story would have been less powerful if it used a voice-over from a journalist. In this case, hearing the all of the individual voices (especially Classie’s) really enhanced the love and bond between the two sisters. If a journalist had simply done a voice over, I don’t think it would have portrayed as much emotion, nor would it evoke as much emotion from the viewer.

    This story made me very emotional, and I don’t think that I would have felt the same way if I had simply just heard a journalist tell their story. I really liked this audio slideshow. I didn’t know much about this form of multimedia storytelling before, but after this, I am intrigued.

    Ps. Sorry about the late response.

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