Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

Multimedia Journalist: statistician and computer nerd?

Posted in Journalism by Adam Westbrook on March 11, 2009

Multimedia journalists: expected to be film makers, radio reporters, photographers,  interviewers, web designers,  independent researchers, graphic designers, idea generators, legal eagles not to mention just your average text-hack.

Phewf!

But I got two more to add to the list now-statistician and computer programmer. Why? Well look at this brilliant piece of interactive journalism by Grace Koerber at the University of Carolina (Hat tip: Innovative Interactivity)

Energey Interactive by Grace Koerber

Energy Interactive by Grace Koerber

Click on the picture, go to the site and play with it yourself.

Writing on Innovative Interactivity, Grace says:

Completing this interactive took somewhere around 120 hours. A lot of this time was spent learning how to use Flash’s drawing API and use PHP to communicate between Flash and a MySQL database, both of which I had never done before. The amount of research was also particularly time-consuming.

Could the image of a street savvy, scruffy alcoholic hack bashing away at a typewriter be replaced with a street savvy, scruffy, alcoholic computer geek bashing away at XML?

Journalism students at UNC are actually taught things like XML and MySQL; these extra skills make them hugely more versatile, hugely more valuable to employers – and preparing them for a brand new way of story telling.