Combining Multimedia and Citizen Content For Greater Context

Courtesy FDNY

This article in the Valley Independent Sentinel is an example of how multimedia elements (and citizen journalism) helped take a simple local story and add context and emotion.

The Valley Independent Sentinel is an online-only hyper local news site in Connecticut. (Full disclosure: I helped launch the site in 2009.)

The news site has done a great job keeping ahead of the social media and multimedia trends in journalism — and forcing competitors in the area to get on board.

This week, editor Eugene Driscoll was faced with a fairly common story for local newspapers: A group of students collected donations for people affected by Hurricane Sandy in Rockaway, Queens.

It’s easy for local reporters to decide these stories are monotonous, and react by banging out some standard, boring 8-inch story about the donation drive.

But Eugene Driscoll took another approach, using Storify and citizen journalists to help add context to the story.

Driscoll created a Storify that detailed the damage in Rockaway, and the school’s efforts to get support via social media. One of the tweets is posted below.


And he embedded a video produced by a friend of a Rockaway resident that shows exactly what was going on there after the storm. The creator of the video is not a journalist, but what he did here was a form of journalism.

He combined these aspects with the standard 8-inch story about the donation drive. The result was a much more compelling piece.

How have you used multimedia, social media and citizen contributions to bolster commonplace reporting? Share links to some examples in the comments section.

Jodie Mozdzer Gil is an assistant professor of multimedia journalism at Southern Connecticut State University. She previously reported for the Valley Independent Sentinel, the Hartford Courant and the Waterbury Republican American. You can follow her on Twitter @mozactly.

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