One is not enough
Most classes at the University of Florida where getting out early from their first day of classes during syllabus week. Others were learning real journalism. In a lone classroom in Weimer Hall at the University of Florida professor Herbert Lowe was laying down the ground rules for a class that would be about journalism and not homework.
It came as no surprise that our first assignment would also lay the groundwork for our class expectations. We had to analyze and compare a local, regional and national news outlets use of multimedia while covering a story.
Hurricane Irma was a storm that affected a small region of the United States. It gained national attention because of its historic size and its timeliness to Hurricane Harvey.
On the local level, the Gainesville Sun covered the storm from a weather and human impact perspective. They used different reporting tools to engage all types of readers.
They had multiple pages dedicated to Hurricane Irma coverage.
One page housed a minute by minute storm updates that included information about emergency numbers, flood sightings, power outages and lodging. Within that page they embedded social media tweets from officials and residents. They also included video from officials and update photos taken from around the city.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also had minute by minute coverage for Irma but coverage content and approach looked different.
The regional newspapers coverage looked different because of Irma’s strength and their audience. When Irma made it to Georgia it had weakened to a tropical storm.
The content from their page was generalized to help people outside of the storm get updates on it affects. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also used embedded tweets of officials and included storm photos. They did not have audio from people or any videos to the page. They gave hyperlinks to different outlets to supplement information.
The L.A. Times covered Irma with an interactive timeline. The timeline added an element of focus and easy navigation on stories about Irma. For every update, there was a hyperlink that took you to a tweet, video or a story about the storm. It allowed you to stay on the page with the media and the timeline.
Overall the Gainesville Sun had the most comprehensive reporting and updates. The L.A. Times use of graphics, photos, video and social media made it the most interactive.
The L.A. Times frequently uses different media to tell stories. While covering a local story on the flu they used the same media elements from Irma coverage. They added a video of information and places associated with the flu. It brought a different perspective to the storytelling because there was no person speaking in the video and readers were their own guide. They added bar graphs on flu deaths and included tweets from reporters in the field. Each tool brought a new layer to the story and it showed good reporting.
The Gainesville Sun covered the flu but only used text to report on the issue. The only photo they used was a pic art.
The coverage was more informational and not investigative. Although the information they gave could have been presented in a more appealing way. A list of flu symptoms could have been made into a graphic instead of putting it in list format.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution covered the flu more like the L.A. Times. They used photos, charts and video to tell the stories of the flu epidemic in Georgia. They had a television package about deaths related to the flu in the story. The text story added information to the video and did not just repeat what the video said.
The bigger the publication the more media elements they use. Ultimately, using multimedia storytelling allowed it me to understand the information better.