J333: Looking Back

partycartBy Hannah Doyle

Over the last 10 weeks I’ve grown as a storyteller in finding different ways to cover a single topic over a long period of time, and the troubleshooting and research that comes with it.

I’ve created an audio slideshow, video, infographic, Storify, articles, GIFs, and tweets illustrating different facets of food carts, from how to make a roux to social media strategy. All stretched my abilities as a journalist because I didn’t only have to write—my storytelling mode of choice—but I had to verse myself in equipment and computer programs as well.

This came with some familiar territory (Final Cut Pro, Illustrator) and some unfamiliar territory (Soundslides and GIF animation). I used Soundslides to create my audio slideshow and although I took precautionary measures, I learned to take those precautions to the full extent. If I would have done a sample audio slideshow all the way to the export stage, then I could have foreseen the trouble that awaited me 60 minutes before it was due. Tackling GIFs for the first time fortunately wasn’t too tricky to get the hang of. Since I had Photoshop, the program it required, it wasn’t hard to navigate a couple unfamiliar features to produce it. The most difficulty I had with the GIFs was posting it to a WordPress blog post. When the GIFs worked in preview but not in publish mode, I resorted to forums where I found that they exceeded the theme’s post width. After reading different ways to adjust animated GIF sizes I easily found a generator online that shrank them to an appropriate size.

What both the GIFs and slideshow issues had in common was that I only prepared for half the battle—production is the first part, but translating it to a mass medium [Youtube, WordPress, etc.] is the second, and most crucial, part. Along with learning what to pay attention to for troubleshooting I also learned more about research. When creating the infographic I initially thought the work would be more visual based, but I was wrong. Infographics contain a lot of information condensed into one readable image. Most of the work for the infographic was calling sources and finding out where things were located and what resources were most used. After gathering all that information I had to design a way to illustrate it clearly, all on one image. That was also difficult because it made sense to me, but I wasn’t sure how to clearly convey that information to the viewer, and if they would understand what the symbols I used were illustrating.

Overall, I am very happy with the food cart topic and had a blast covering it, picking up some new skills to put in my journalistic tool belt along the way. Right next to Final Cut Pro I’ve gained a holster for Infographics and a belt notch for GIFs. I now have a pocket for Soundslides, although I wouldn’t mind never breaking that out again unless I had to. Writing for Multimedia, it’s been good, and I hope to carry your lessons on with me as I go into the next phase of post-graduation storytelling.

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