The ‘crusty old sports writer’ tackles multimedia

Roger Gafke sat in the back of the horseshoe-shaped lecture hall keenly focused on the discussion. Every couple minutes he chimed in, offering insight about such topics as Twitter use or digital photography.

A faculty member at the University of Missouri’s journalism school since 1968 — a year before I was born — and a lifelong journalist, Gaffke has embraced various twists and turns in the media landscape, including the emergence of multimedia the last couple of decades, which he has embraced.

At the 2015 Reynolds Institute, Gafke and the other facilitators emphasized to journalism teachers and advisers from across the country, including me, how multimedia can engage your audience. I saw that it was important that I embrace this and impress it upon my students. I also realized that as an ex-journalist (or a “crusty old sports writer,” as I often refer to myself) during largely pre-multimedia times, I need to school myself on the topic.

In the back of my head I’ve always wondered exactly what the term “multimedia” encompasses. I was interested to find out in the article “Defining Multimedia” on The Multimedia Journalist that multimedia is a nebulous term that can cover a variety of content and skills. “(Re)defining multimedia journalism” by Mindy McAdams also mentions this.

In our multimedia course, I hope to add more digital storytelling skill and tools to my arsenal, and I suppose I’m not alone in this sentiment. According to a study cited in the McAdams piece, “One of the most pressing needs mentioned by journalists in various countries was the acquisition of new multimedia skills.”

I was sad to find out recently that  Storify, which weaves social media posts into attractive narratives, is shutting down in a couple months. I’m interested in hearing about other storytelling platforms my classmates use and enjoy.

I hope is to pass this on to my students and require that all stories we publish on our website incorporate at least one multimedia element. I have perused many student publication websites which have won Online Pacemaker Awards, and they inspired to nudge my own publication in this direction. In fact, last summer I judged the online excellence category for Nevada’s state contest, and there was one outstanding site, The Southwest Shadow, which I presented to our journalists as a standard of excellence and something we should shoot for. It uses complementary multimedia elements with every story. Coincidentally, its adviser, Matt LaPorte, is now my mentor in this class.

I also want to publish more content that is multimedia in and of itself. Although we have one podcaster on our staff, and I have a basic working knowledge of Soundcloud, podcasting is new to me, and while I know basic composition techniques, my video experience is also limited.

By the end of this course, I’m hoping to find that even a crusty old sports writer can have an arsenal of digital tricks up his sleeve.