Tip Sheets

Multimedia and social networking for health journalists

Mindy McAdams

McAdams is a journalism professor at the University of Florida and a frequent speaker at journalism training events. If you have the chance to see her speak, do so. McAdams regularly shares tips about best equipment, software, practices, etc. Her approach is very practical and intended to get journalists moving into multimedia quickly. I recommend her site as your first step in exploring multimedia tools and techniques.

Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency
McAdams recently started running a series of blog posts she calls a “Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency.” These are invaluable tutorials for skills that many of you will need to learn. Each one builds on the one before, so I suggest working through them in the order she's written them. Expect more in this series from McAdams.

  1. Read blogs and use RSS
  2. Start a blog
  3. Buy an audio recorder and learn to use it
  4. Start editing audio
  5. Listen to podcasts
  6. Post an interview (or podcast) on your blog
  7. Learn how to shoot decent photos
  8. Learn how to crop, tone, and optimize photos
  9. Add photos to your blog
  10. Learn to use Soundslides
  11. Tell a good story with images and sound
  12. Learn to shoot video

Teaching Online Journalism is McAdams' blog. Best of all, she posts her handouts on her Web site - don't miss her "Getting started in multimedia journalism" for comprehensive practical guides and inspiration. This is a recent one, but she does post updated versions from time to time. Her Journalists' Toolkit is a frequently updated list of free online tutorials and resources.Her audio gear page includes what equipment to use to record phone conversations, recommended microphones and digital audio recorders.

Her No-Fear Guide to Multimedia Skills is not to be missed for anyone who wants to delve into multimedia - it's concise, no-nonsense and clear. It includes a list of recorders she likes. McAdams also has an Amazon page of recommended audio equipment. If you're ready to start gathering and editing audio to be used online, you have to see her blog entry "First lesson in audio for journalists."

Updated April 16, 2009

By Pia Christensen, managing editor/online services, Association of Health Care Journalists

Get inspired and learn the basics

Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and Thrive is a free downloadable guide that is a good way to familiarize yourself with the terms and tools of multimedia journalism. It's full of information but accessible for people just entering the multimedia arena.

Types of online media: This chart outlines what kinds of elements are used in the multimedia world and how they are used.

Technolo-J is a blog that for journalists wanting to learn more about technology. Many of its posts are written by Ron Sylvester, a reporter turned multimedia producer at The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, in which he chronicles his journey into the online world.

This Cheatsheet on producing multimedia stories was prepared by Alf Hermida for the Knight Science Journalism Symposium. It will help get you thinking about the possibilities and the process.

Quickstudy TechBites: An evolving resource, created by Barbara K. Iverson and Suzanne McBride at Columbia College in Chicago. Initially designed for journalism teachers and students, it will help anyone who needs tto learn to get digital images from a camera to a computer, to edit photos for stories that you are putting online, to grab some audio for an online story, and to create a "Ken Burns" style video or do quick edits of digital video for "Youtube-like" videos.


AHCJ 2009 Blog Tips: Presentation from Scott Hensley, founding editor of The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog

Tips and advice for print and TV journalists who are blogging: In this podcast at BlogTalkRadio.com, Sree Sreenivasan, a Columbia Journalism School professor and WNBC-TV tech reporter, and David Kohn, The (Baltimore) Sun's health and science reporter, discuss the basics of blogging, how to get started, building traffic, building your blog's brand, making money and taking it to the next level. Kohn recently started a blog, Maryland Med, and he asks questions about blogging that many other journalists would have as well.

Danny Sanchez: How to Blog Like a Rock Star

Blogger Toolkit

Chris Brogans’s 40 Ways to Deliver Killer Blog Content - (Original post here)


Twitter for health journalists - This has an explanation of what it is, how to get started and how to find useful and interesting people to follow.

Journalists and social networking: A handout from Monica Guzman of SeattlePI.com

Journalists and social networking: PowerPoijnt presentation from Monica Guzman of SeattlePI.com 

Connecting with your community through Twitter.

Audio and video

Good intro to what a compact flash recorder is and basics on using one.

Transom.org describes itself as channeling new work and voices to public radio through the Internet, for discussing that work and encouraging more. It's a good place to get some inspiration but they also do in-depth equipment reviews.

How to set up at a press conference or interview: From Phyllis Fletcher, KUOW-Seattle

Radio reporter toolkit: From Phyllis Fletcher, KUOW-Seattle

Digital Video Workshops: In addition to offering workshops, this site has tips on shooting, lighting and editing video in its free Digital Video Handbook. [http://www.dvworkshops.com/dvtips.html]

Richard Koci Hernandez has a "starter kit" of gear he recommends, including audio recorders, on his MultiMediaShooter.com site. He also outlines what gear he carries and frequently posts good examples of multimedia in use.

AHCJ's tipsheet on digital audio recording.

Poynter's NewsU blog often offers pointers on multimedia or links to other useful sites.

Andy Dickinson wrote a series of articles called "How to: Set up video for newspaper websites on a budget" that details what kind of equipment to look for - focused on what you might already have or can get for as little money as possible. Dickinson teaches digital and online journalism at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK.

Reuters has established a "mobile journalism trial" in which reporters are equipped with a lightweight kit to file and publish stories fro the road. A posting on the Reuters site details what equipment they are using.

News Videographer provides critiques of online news videos and related multimedia content as well as news about multimedia journalism contests, video gear, software, online distribution, and news about anything else related to Internet video.


Soundslides is a program that allows you to build slide shows with audio and output them as a Flash file - a common format used on many Web sites. It was created by a photojournalist, Joe Weiss, for journalists and it can be mastered fairly quickly. You can download a trial version and the basic licensed version only costs $39.95 - the basic version is more than adequate for most uses.Once you have some photos and audio, Soundslides is a great way to combine them and end up with a nice, professional presentation with limited time to learn a new piece of software.

Some examples of slideshows created using Soundslides:

There are quite a few tutorials on how to use Soundslides including this one from the Knight Digital Media Center, this one [http://mindymcadams.com/guest/diversity2/index.html] from Mindy McAdams (scroll down to Part 2), this one from photojournalist Tom Priddy, this video tutorial from Richard Koci Hernandez and this one from PopPhoto.com. Additionally, Weiss is quite responsive to questions, as are participants in the active forums.

Also see this piece: Soundslides and the rise of the audio slideshow.

Multimedia training and tutorials

These universities and journalism organizations sponsor multimedia and convergence seminars and training sessions:

Other tools