Why multimedia journalism matters

As a teacher candidate in my undergraduate program at the University of Texas at Tyler, I was required to create a teacher portfolio. The portfolio, for all the importance my instructors gave it, could seemingly land my dream job, if only I could manage to make it swoon-worthy enough.

And so, like any good English/Language Arts student in the early 2000s, I felt like I needed a good quote on my portfolio’s title page. One that could, in 25 words or less, sum up the entirety of my passion for teaching.

This is what I chose: “The future does not fit in the containers of the past.” I don’t remember for sure, but I probably found the quote after a Google search for ‘great educational quotes,’ or something to that effect. The quote came from the then Chief Executive Officer of VivaKi, Rishad Tobaccowala.

As a so-called millennial, I had always felt fairly tech-savvy. My middle school days were filled with mandatory keyboarding classes and playing Oregon Trail on our weekly trip to the one school-wide computer lab. In high school, we learned basic HTML coding and created our own web pages. I took to technology quickly and wished that we had even more technology at our small, rural high school.

And so, as a newly-certified teacher hoping to find a full-time teaching position – teaching only journalism and publications – I felt like technology was one thing education was lacking. Especially education in rural East Texas, where I still lived and hoped to work.

But, journalism positions are hard to come by in that particular geographic area, and although I did find a journalism job, the district I ended up in certainly didn’t fulfill my ‘educational technology’ dreams. Instead, all cell phones were banned for students my first year in the classroom. The phones would be confiscated, and the students fined, if teachers could even see a phone in a student’s pocket or in their backpack. In my first day of teacher inservice, I found myself in a room with my coworkers, being taught how to create PowerPoint presentations. It was August 2010.

To say I was frustrated with the environment would be an understatement, but I made it work. I may have covertly broken a few (or a lot) of school rules, but I tried to implement true technology into my journalism classroom as often as possible. I felt strongly, just as I did in high school and college, that technology can make life easier, better and more efficient. And, even though there are dangers and pitfalls to technology, the evolution is one which should be embraced more – especially by educators charged with preparing young people for their lives after graduation.

Even though I am not in the classroom this year, I still work with other journalism teachers daily, and I always encourage them to implement technology as much as possible, too.

For student journalists, embracing technology and learning convergent and multimedia journalism is essential for their futures, especially if they plan on becoming journalists themselves. Even for those who plan on different career paths, knowing the skills of multimedia journalism and understanding how the related processes work, can be a tremendous help to them as news consumers.

For this course, I hope to improve my knowledge of photography, since I am almost entirely self-taught. I’ve had a few short courses in video reporting and editing, such as at the ASNE Reynolds Journalism Institute during the summer of 2016 – but I don’t feel like I know enough about it to really teach it well to my students, or to other people’s students.

I hope to learn enough this semester to be able to comfortably explain the basics of multimedia journalism to students, and to get enough of a foundation that I can continue to build on it after the course is complete.

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