Characteristics of good visual storytelling

Visual storytelling is not simply about having a good story and putting it in front of a camera. You could have great camera skills, but visual storytelling demands for more than skills. It requires creativity and innovative ideas. “Quality, time and collaboration are the keys to great storytelling,” says Brian Storm, founder and executive producer of the multimedia production studio MediaStorm. There is only so much a story can tell, once the right music, visual transitions, and pace are established, the story becomes greater and more powerful. It is about inviting your audience, allowing them to feel the emotions, become inspired, and learn something from the story.

An example of visual storytelling is the promotional commercial for the National Relay Service for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Australia. The two part video promotes the use of relay services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals. Instead of simply telling their audience about the services the company provides, the advantages and purposes are shown through a love story between a hearing man and a Deaf woman. Using the relationship as a timeline, the National Relay Service draw in people and tug their heartstrings as the main characters endure the joy and heartbreak of romance. Not once does it seem like a video for relay service, it appears to be a preview for an upcoming short film.

According to Deborah Potter‘s checklist, the National Relay Service promotional video uses these components to solidify their visual story:

  • Pacing – the music works with the events of the story, elevating the emotions of the story
  • Structure – there is a beginning, a middle and an end, all are important parts of the story. The story is linear, there is sheer focus on the development of the romantic relationship
  • Focus – although the short film appears to be about a relationship between a Deaf woman and a hearing man, the focus is on the communication between the two. In particular, the phone conversations that can occur, thanks to the National Relay Service.

The short film, Quiet Signs of Love, is not used for traditional Journalism, but more for a promotional video for a service company. It could be used as a journalistic story, as a human interest story exposing the communication challenges between two individuals from different perspectives and sharing the Deaf culture. The compelling love story presents the services of the National Relay Service in an interesting and creative way, in which can draw in more viewers and support.

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The newest kid on the block – online writing

A brief introduction, I promise

Writing has been around since man invented the wheel, literally. Writing styles morphed over the years, tweaking itself to fit the social norms. We have gone from the romantic and lengthy to straightforward and simple. Online writing is the newest kid on the writing block and it is most definitely different.

So, how do I become an efficient online writer? 

There’s so much you can write about, but only about 28% of your words will be read by your audience. So, what can you do to draw them in and keep ’em reading? Compiling most of the advices given by these proclaimed online writing experts:

  • Use subheadings, bold up the key words to add emphasis

All we do these days is blast through news articles and take in maybe two things from the story if we’re paying enough attention. Subheadings and bold letters will attract attention and slow down that speed reader.

In Journalism, the acronym is KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. The last thing we want to do is confuse our audience. Tell the story right off the bat!

  • Integrate with your audience, allow them to converse with you

Today’s journalism is a two-way street. The audience/readers have power, just like the gatekeepers. Create ways to allow for them to converse with you and each other.

  • Use images

Our world moves much faster these days. It seems that the only way we’ll stop is if we see an intriguing image. Use your pictures, for a picture is worth a thousand words. Polls, charts and galore!

  • Write in active voice, pack in that action!

If someone brave enough told our history teachers to stop telling historical stories passively, we would probably remember more dates! Nobody wants to read a story that drags on in passive voice. It’s just not that attractive. Bring your audience to the action. Let them feel the sweat, the dodging, the tears.

Okay, what now?

There is only so much online writers can do to maintain interest, but the best thing we can do is adapt to change. Go with the flow. Do what works and keep at it. Venture for more stories, speak the truth and tell the story.

10 exceptional Journalists to follow

Currently, there are 500 million users tweeting their thoughts away with 140 characters. Can you imagine following every single one? Talk about overheating your brain. Instead of allowing us to be vulnerable to that much overloading, we have the power to selectively follow certain people whose thoughts are deemed important or relevant.

These are the people I think are important and great to follow because of who they are and what they do. I believe that every person has established an admirable reputation and it is inspirational. In no particular order, I follow:

Soledad O’Brien (@Soledad_OBrien) is considered one of the most hard hitting journalists of today. She strives to answer the questions that aren’t easy to answer or haven’t been answered.

Erin Andrews (@ErinAndrews) has slowly, but surely become a representative for females in sportscasting. Her tweets are informative about sporting events and personally delightful.

Hannah Storm (@HannahStormESPN) has built a great sportscasting reputation with Sportscenter. Her professionalism is a great example of how sports journalism could be.

Kathy Walsh (@WalshCBS4) is a local newscaster from Denver. Although she does not tweet often, her tweets are mainly newsworthy which is a useful and valuable skill to acquire.

Kami Carmann (@KamiCarmann) is another local sports newscaster from Denver. She has worked very hard to get where she is and it is an admirable trait.

Jeff Kassouf (@JeffKassouf) is a producer for NBCSports.com as well as a soccer journalist. His tweets contain newsworthy and soccer related information.

Katie Couric (@katiecouric) doesn’t need any introduction to who she is because she is an iconic news anchor. I follow her because I think she asks good questions and has the privilege to share amazing stories.

Walt Mossberg (@waltmossberg) is a world renowned journalist for the New York Times. Although he writes the tech articles, his journalistic experience is great to follow. He is so well known, someone set up a fake Walt Mossberg twitter account/handle!

Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) is ABC’s Global Affairs anchor and known internationally. Her tweets consist of international news. Even though I am not interested in becoming an anchor, she has impressively become one of the top well known anchors in the world.

Khadija Patel (@khadijapatel) is a journalist with the Daily Maverick from Johannesburg, South Africa. She is a live-tweeter, informing the world of human stories through brief 140 characters, but dense statements.