It's time to ramble on…

The thoughts of a young journalist in southeastern Michigan

Like an onion, packaging has layers

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Incorporation is important in several aspect, including the Bill of Rights. But it is also important when it comes to reporting as well.

When covering a story with multiple mediums (print, photo, video, etc.), it is imperative that those mediums are consistent. This may seem like an obvious move-“of course everything should match up”- but it isn’t as easy as it seems. I was able to experience this on March 18 in covering the United States Census Bureau tour, which stopped by CMU to promote the completion of people’s census forms.

This story had three layers: a written story, photo and video (which can be found here). While I constructed two of these pieces, it still needed the still image aspect, which photographer Paige Calamari shot. But seeing this type of assignment from both sides-the reporter and editor- I’ve noticed the importance of covering things with another journalist, and have included some here.

1. Work with your co-worker before coverage begins.

This is a big proponent to any story. If you don’t talk to the photographer/writer before covering, how will you know where to meet up/what your angle will be, etc.? It also helps to know what both of your initial thoughts are on the assignment, and possible angles that would play up both the story and photos (and other layers if you have them as well, such as video).

2. Stay close on assignment.

If you don’t know what the other is doing, how is your story supposed to match the photos? Going off for a while is perfectly okay, but regroup as much as possible. See who the other has talked to, and possible angles may appear quicker than you think.

3. Sacrifice.

As a writer, you may have a bombshell narrative lead all set up. You interview that person extensively, and get back to to write your story. The only problem? The photographer has no photos of him/her. Your lead is useless without the photo (or again, video) to match up with. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice that awesome lead or well-composed photo if it means the packaging will improve.

At the end of the day, the packaging is the most important element, not the single story or photos. Ego can sometimes get in the way of journalists; they want what’s best for them. But with changing business models, audiences want something they can relate to, and a well-rounded package can provide the reader this.

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Written by David Veselenak

March 28, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Posted in Journalism

Tagged with , ,

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