Multimedia journalists have one of the most exciting jobs in the media industry. The stories they cover and the types of content they create change every day, making their jobs feel more like a creative adventure than a list of job duties. A multimedia journalism career can also be extremely fulfilling, as its sole purpose is to inform and entertain the public. When you consider these amazing benefits, it’s no wonder why multimedia journalism is a popular career choice.
Job Duties of a Multimedia Journalist
Because this role is very versatile and changes over time, many people are still wondering to this day, “What is a multimedia journalist?” To gain a better understanding of this profession, it’s a good idea to review some of its most typical job responsibilities. Though requirements vary from employer to employer, the skills that are the most demand for multimedia journalists include the following:
- Communication skills: Write in an exciting, captivating, authentic manner, producing news stories that are unique and engaging.
- Technical skills: Use the latest editing and photography technology to tell compelling stories.
- Creativity: Develop story ideas; write, shoot and edit news stories for on-air broadcasting; use graphics and new forms of media, such as webcam interviews and viewer-contributed pictures.
- Precision: Deliver on-air news in an accurate manner while still making the events exciting to hear about.
A multimedia journalist uses more than one medium to convey important information. It might be audio and video, still pictures and powerful graphics, or innovative new media like video clips and animations. You are responsible for capturing and accurately conveying ongoing news stories, whether you are covering a fire, homecoming of a hero, or a senior citizen’s 100th birthday celebration.
The work is as endlessly changing as our real world, so every day is a new adventure. Multimedia journalist jobs often vary by location too; a journalist in Denver may spend hours covering the Broncos and Nuggets sports teams, while a multimedia journalist in Miami could be covering the Heat, the arts beat, or the Boat Show.
Unlike television dramatic shows and feature film work, multimedia journalism requires one person to perform many tasks. You could drive the crew truck to the site of a breaking story, help the cameraman set the shot, do your own quick makeup, and interview witnesses of important, emergent events – all in one day. You could also spend the next few hours editing your work for broadcast, or you could be relaying the news live on air.
The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the 2016 annual median pay for journalists at $38,870, with the top 10 percent earning more than $86,610. You will not find a “typical” multimedia journalist salary because each market is dynamic and responsive to local needs.
For example, Columbus, Ohio residents can plan on earning around $35,500 annually while Cincinnati residents may get offered $49,000. For Floridians in the Miami area, you can set your sights on $44,000. Living in Denver? Career Builder pegs the salary at $61,500.
Along with understanding what a multimedia journalist does, you probably want to know what kind of environments multimedia journalists work in. Newsrooms, television studios, municipal government buildings, sports stadiums and radio booths are all likely places to spot a multimedia journalist. Sports broadcasters will spend time, of course, at games.
For every hour spent covering a live event, though, the multimedia sports journalist will conduct hours of research, spend time in locker rooms and team offices, and work on producing show segments or special broadcasts at their desks.
Most news organizations expect multimedia journalists to have a strong background in practical skills like these:
- On-camera presence: Be familiar with wardrobe, makeup, and speech delivery best practices.
- Microphone: Know how to utilize proper mic techniques for anchoring, interviewing and minimizing background noise.
- Interviewing: Possess communication skills and interviewing experience.
- Camera: Understand how to film, edit and add graphics to stories.
You may pick up sufficient skills in as little as eight months of study to become a multimedia journalist, or you may earn a four-year undergraduate degree in journalism — each job will have its particular requirements that cater to your experience.
Traits of a Good Multimedia Journalist
Introverts seldom have success on camera. The most successful multimedia journalists are confident, friendly and talkative. These characteristics allow them to appear comfortable on camera and connect with viewers.
You also need to have psychological insight into people, since not all of your interview subjects will be eager to talk to you. Being inquisitive and knowing how to best communicate with your subjects will also help you be successful in this field.
Because you will likely be covering a wide range of topics, you should also have a passion for learning new things and conducting research. Staying up to date on recent news and world developments can give you an edge as well.
A Bright Future
With new types of media becoming more popular, like podcasts and live video streaming, the future for multimedia journalists is strong. While BLS says employment will drop by some nine percent over the next eight years, talented journalists will thrive in new markets like online content and paid subscription services.
Access to global technology also allows multimedia journalists to reach greater audiences, find far-flung interview subjects, and build strong bases of loyal listeners.
A four-year degree is a huge investment of time and money. To get a great introduction to this exciting career without overspending, consider these strategies:
- Intern for free at your local radio station
- Take open courseware online to see if multimedia is for you
- Apply to and attend one of the great Media schools in Florida, Ohio, Illinois or Colorado
Once you learn the necessary skills and gain some experience in the field, you will able to get a multimedia journalism career you love. Start pursuing your dream today!