Last week I showed my journalism students an audio slideshow by multimedia producers Duckrabbit. Sat in silence, they watched Francoise’ story and got into a healthy debate afterwards about the piece.
They loved the text on the screen, and the images; but most of all, as one student put it “I like how she tells he own story without any reporter’s voice”.
Duckrabbit have just launched a powerful new series with Medicins Sans Frontiers, and if you speak to Ben Chesterton from Duckrabbit you’ll quickly learn letting people tell their own story is what he’s all about.
Told only in their own voices all the website asks you is to send a message of support. At first that might seem a bit daft…Surely what they need is cash right? Well if you watch their videos you can find out about their lives, you can find out they’re not much different to you and me…secondly your messages of support do make a difference. I worked in camps in Kenya and the thing that people were most frightened of was being forgotten, the sense that no-one cares.
Journalists realised a few years ago there is good work available telling the powerful stories of NGOs, charities and the people they help.
More NGOs though need to come round to that idea, and understand the journalist’s storytelling skills will add a punch that no black and white footage with dreary voice over ever could.
Here’s another inspiring article doing the rounds: detailing how multimedia journalists in America are re-inventing themselves and forging new business working for NGOs and non-profit groups.
…in Norfolk, Virginia, former Virginian-Pilot staff photographer Chris Tyree has launched a multimedia production company called Weyo with Stephen Katz, who is still a staff photographer at the paper and won POYi Newspaper Photographer of the Year honors in 2008. “We’re trying to brand ourselves as storytellers to the non-profit world,” Tyree says. Clients so far include Physicians for Peace, Resolve.org and the Samaritan’s Purse Canada, among others.
Tyree quit his job last August, right before a wave of layoffs hit The Virginian-Pilot. “It became obvious that stories I was interested in—about social justice and social responsibility—weren’t getting [published] as much” because of budget pressures and cutbacks, Tyree explains.
And they reckon their background in frontline news gives them the edge over more established competition.
One challenge for would-be freelance multimedia producers is competition from established video production companies that are chasing corporate and non-profit PR work. Migielicz argues that producers with newspaper backgrounds are better storytellers by training, and can work faster and leaner.
Leeson says, “One thing you learn as a still photojournalist is how to get in and out and produce something with high quality. We know how to tell a story. We don’t have to story board it, and go through all these pre-production meetings. All I need is a grasp of what the client is hoping for. In newspapers, you get an assignment with a basic outline of the story, and beyond that you’re expected to find it.”
As a couple of other inspiring pieces (like this one and this one) are showing, maybe now is the time to to take the plunge and advertise your talents to more people. But the risks and challenges of starting your own business are still pretty intimidating.
The money though isn’t bad, according to the article:
Weyo just finished one job that paid $10,000 for a 7-minute video and a Web site with “20-some” linked pages. Another recent job for a women’s shelter paid $15,000 for similar work, “with some branding as well,” Tyree says. Another shelter in Maryland paid Weyo $4,000 for a video and some still photography. “I was definitely paid better at the newspaper, but that’s because we’re just starting out,” he says.