Phillip Smith

Multi-media storytelling made easy

The tools that are available for combining images, audio, and text have just become too easy to use for publications to ignore. Many magazines are already doing the work of recording interviews, shooting photographs, and building out a theme for their editorial packages. So the question is: what are the opportunities to leverage these simple tools to bring a story to life online?

Even though recent studies are showing that people read more, and more deeply, online than in print, there's a growing trend across Web publications to add multi-media storytelling to the mix. From the audio-only podcast -- like the rabble's podcast network -- to the Flash-enabled experiences that are starting to be commonplace on most large news sites, everyone has finally figured out that people want more than just text.

Given that I've already touched on podcasting, I wanted to share what online publications were up to around multi-media experiences; and how hard (or easy!) it would be for more publications to put these tools to use.

Great examples are everywhere. I spent hours just exploring the 2007 Web site winners of the National Press Photographers Association's "Best of Photojournalism 2007." The diversity of the winning sites is impressive: everything from San Jose Mercury News Photography Department's archive, to simple Flickr slideshows and blogs.

How easy is it to create an photo slideshow? Or even a narrated slideshow? Really easy.

Though there are lots of tools to choose from, the most impressively simple that I came across was Soundslides. Soundslides is a cross-platform (Mac / Windows) "rapid production tool for still image and audio Web presentations" -- built for journalists, this is probably the most intuitive tool that I've ever seen for creating stunning audio-visual slideshows. (I won't bore you with the results... but, as an example of how easy it is to use, I was up-and-running with a nifty narrated slideshow in under 10 minutes.)

As writers, editors, and publishers, you already know how to tell a story: now it's time to just get out there and do it online.

About

Hi, I'm Phillip Smith, a veteran digital publishing consultant, online advocacy specialist, and strategic convener. If you enjoyed reading this, find me on Twitter and I'll keep you updated.

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