Multimedia skills the new way in journalism
Mike Leonard, Neil Steinberg and Rick Kogan, all Chicagoland journalists, are literally on the same friendly page via Facebook. All seasoned pros encourage multimedia storytelling. Karie Angell Luc~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 29, 2012 4:29PM
Mike Leonard, NBC News feature correspondent, was getting on a plane June 13 near Breaux Bridge, La. — just enough time to talk shop before shutting off his iPhone before take-off.
“This is a story about America,” said Leonard, of his follow-up assignment. “There’s a guy (Mark Stephan, a North Shore neighbor) who became a quadriplegic from a bike accident.”
“It’s a story of life,” said Leonard, of Stephan’s biking journey. Leonard, a 30-year Winnetka resident, who enjoys touring “Louisiana, which I love, and Cajun country,” is a multimedia journalist who inspires beyond his 33 years with NBC.
Of his early career: “You know, that’s how I got into TV, I was taking home movies,” said Leonard.
“It only seems natural to marry all of that, putting pictures to words. I guess I was a pioneer because no one was doing it.”
Leonard’s work has set the tone for newcomer college journalists who are already iPhone and Internet savvy.
These coming-of-age twenty-somethings clearly rival Best Buy geeks.
I once left a teen in an editing room for maybe 10 minutes, encouraging him to give editing a shot via Avid, one industry-standard television computer program.
When I re-entered the edit room, he had one third of the program’s timeline already done.
So, for career re-entry journalists like me, Mike Leonard’s work has awakened the broadcast columnist in me.
I want to champion the untold stories of deserving others using words, digital still photography plus HDTV moving images.
It will take some time but I am stoked.
“I think you’re a genius,” said Chicago Tribune “Sidewalks” columnist Rick Kogan, of my goal to produce multimedia Internet pieces for my Snapshot column, assigned stories and the Trend page.
“Though I am relatively prehistoric when it comes to new media, I certainly admire anyone who is dipping into new and frankly exciting ways of communicating,” said Kogan.
He added: “Though I am and ever will be deep down a newspaper guy, there is no denying that new and exciting means of communication are coming to the fore.”
“And Rick would know,” said Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg, a 12-year Northbrook resident.
Steinberg, a 1982 Northwestern University Medill graduate, has begun shooting videos with his phone, including Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sitting on the roof of a Dunkin’ Donuts in Glenview.
Steinberg, who has “no idea how many clicks” his columns get on the Internet, posts his work to Facebook (As of 8:11 p.m. June 24, Steinberg had 2,536 Facebook friends). He also Tweets his column.
“I got a thousand ‘likes’ the other day and that seemed like something,” said Steinberg.
“The Internet has made newspapering less lucrative,” Steinberg said, “and people spend time playing Angry Birds when they used to be doing the crossword puzzle. I don’t know if that’s a revolution or not,” said Steinberg.
Editorial content, rendered via digital content strategy, can today be Photoshopped come-hither with oft-dizzying Final Cut Pro X effects, while still seeking to humbly attract readers with “the story.”
And an honest story at that.
“I don’t know care how well it’s written,” said Leonard, of any formatted editorial story. “If it’s not true, it stinks.
“You know,” added Leonard, “I love the newspaper, I read the newspaper, I read books. But the journalist has to go in that (multimedia) direction. You have to. The times are changing and you have to be a part of it.”
Then again: “There are some (journalists) that won’t, they don’t always have to, a guy like (Rick) Kogan is unique, he’s a treasure. He brings something to the table that others don’t.”
“When I started, it was a typewriter, you couldn’t do it all and now you can, now, it’s a laptop; it’s an iPhone.It’s all of that. The tools are available to everybody.
“Not everybody can do it well, but you still have to tell the truth all the time. Every word counts.”