Multimedia training for better journalism

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After graduating from university, Innocent Atuganyira chose to focus on radio reporting. “Over the years, all I knew was audio editing and writing shorts for radio broadcast,” the Diiho FM reporter said.

He says that routine changed when in 2021 he had the opportunity to attend a media and digital skills training organized by Ultimate Media Consult (UMC) and the US Mission in Uganda.

“We were given skills in multimedia content creation, including video and audio production, taking and editing photos, graphics, web design as well as other skills,” says Atuganyira.

After the training, he says he set up a website, Ug Reports.com, which allowed him to grow his audience by posting numerous stories daily.

“Through these additional skills, I have come to appreciate the importance of journalists taking advantage of available technologies to deliver content and improve ways of reporting,” he adds.

Unlike traditional journalism where television, radio and print media are used to disseminate information, multimedia journalism focuses on the use of new media technologies, including websites, blogs, social media, among others , to tell stories in different ways.

More and more people are acquiring smart phones and prefer to access their news, information and entertainment needs online. As such, trainers highlighted the importance for journalists to ensure that they produce content suitable for consumption on internet-connected gadgets, thereby aiming to reach global audiences.

While journalists do not stray from the principles of journalism; objectivity, accuracy, impartiality, fairness, truthfulness, public accountability and credible sourcing, they are expected to use combinations of media types in their delivery. For example, they can combine images, text, video, graphics, and sound to tell a complete story.

Although most of these concepts are taught in journalism school, they are basic and many easily forget them.

Christine Awori from QFM in Lira district says she hasn’t paid much attention to multimedia in school.

“When I joined the media, I realized that multimedia journalism was a new trend but could not easily join the stream. Having the opportunity to take multimedia training by UMC and US Mission allowed me to learn how to package my stories better. Specifically, content curation and aggregation has been very helpful in helping me run my blog, sharing stories in ways that I previously couldn’t,” says Awori.

With the new face of journalism, it is essential that every journalism student, speaker, practitioner and communicator is equipped beyond the basics of journalism to be able to use multimedia and digital skills for effective reporting.

Atuganyira is pleased that several Ugandan businesses and organizations have embraced the growing technology of website building and social media platforms as a mode of communication.

“However, there are still gaps in the use of technology for appropriate, accurate and timely communication and reporting. Training in content production, fact-checking, online and mobile writing, using mobile phones to tell stories, shapes journalism better,” he shares.

Additional training in multimedia and digital journalism also provides a range of skills on how to use digital devices. This enables access and management of information, creation and sharing of digital content, communication and collaboration, and the resolution of issues with limited space or airtime. This results in effective and creative personal growth in life, learning, work and social activities in general.

Ivan Lukanda, Projects Coordinator in the Department of Journalism and Communication at Makerere University, agrees on the importance of retraining in new media, saying that multimedia platforms enable journalists to present stories to different audiences depending on of the manner, time and place of access. the contents.

“Online platforms allow journalists to interact with the public to get feedback on stories. It also allows for new angles for stories from audience-generated content,” he says.

Lukanda adds that new media has become a source of job and self-employment opportunities through podcasting, vodcasting, blogging, live streaming, among others.

“The demand for journalists with multimedia skills will increase,” says Dr Lukanda.

Through multimedia training, Gerald Businge, the team leader at Ultimate Media Consult, says he has seen practicing journalists and communications professionals learn best practices for telling stories to online audiences.

“Media professionals need to know the best practices and skills for telling stories on the web as well as to mobile and social audiences. We also show them how to keep themselves and their sources safe,” he says.

Businge adds that during the capacity building training for journalists and journalism teachers, they help participants learn how to use video, digital photography, audio, immersive storytelling, writing/packaging to online visualization and data using phones and computers as well as different digital tools. for fast content production and sharing.

The US Embassy, ​​through the US Mission in Uganda, has funded these trainings for the past three years. Tony Kujawa, spokesperson for the US Embassy, ​​said audiences are changing and modern storytelling requires the ability to tell stories in digital formats.

“Journalists must learn to develop skills to honestly and with integrity question online news and data sources. This is why enhanced multimedia and digital training is a necessity,” Kujawa told reporters at the end of a training for journalists taking place in Fort Portal, Kabarole district.

Kujawa is concerned, however, that the few journalists who venture to the frontlines to create, preserve and disseminate critical information online face numerous threats of surveillance, user attacks or new laws while working digitally/online.

That aside, he says, journalism students, lecturers and practitioners stand a better chance when they improve their multimedia and digital skills in the face of the new trend of news delivery.

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