Getting a good multimedia workout

The first full day of this week’s “Standing Up for Journalism” workshop I’m taking at the Poynter Institute has been a blast, with instruction in audio and slideshow editing and my first stab at shooting video.

Some of the things I wished I would have done while I was still working! Tomorrow: Making chicken salad out of what I recorded today. I haven’t decided to burn the tape or save it posterity and get as good a laugh out of as I did while it playing it back.

Our group (which includes 16 laid off or bought out journalists) next will dive into some serious video editing, and our instructor penned an in-depth profile of journalists who’ve taken their multimedia skills onto the web from other platforms.

“Journalists with certain skills suddenly have options they haven’t had, and they are taking chances on jobs in a new medium as a way to grow their careers and maintain passion for their work.”

As I told one of my classmates over dinner, the Web work I did at my former employer gave me the confidence — and whetted my appetite — to embrace the messiness, frustration and steep learning curve involved in multimedia training. It’s absolutely imperative for anyone who wants to stay in this profession, and there’s really no way around it.

I don’t think there is much time to waste, but the newspaper braintrust busily continues to dog-paddle against a storm tide. This boggles my mind almost as much as the devastating cuts in newsrooms that drain away the very people who have given the print product its chief value:

“Having missed the implications of the Web and allowed both their content and their audience to be scraped away by aggregators and ad networks, newspapers are now working furiously to maintain audience, build new ad models and renovate presentation. But they won’t stay relevant to readers with generic content ginned up by newbies with no background in the communities they serve.

Here’s one suggestion to start a “National Journalism Foundation,” similar to the science boom that began in the late 1950s, to generate new ideas, business models, multimedia skills development and other tools for journalists — and ultimately the citizens they inform and involve — on a grand scale. Many of these things are already happening in micro fashion and will probably continue to incubate:

“Our main goal: We want to put journalism back in the caring hands of journalists. No matter what the medium.”

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