Multimedia Critique: A Close Look at Multimedia in Journalism

Photograph taken from the San Francisco Chronicle “50 years later, Black Lives Matter takes up Panthers’ fight” article

“50 years later, Black Lives Matter takes up Panthers’ fight” by Rachel Swan and Otis R. Taylor Jr. is about what the Black Panthers’ stood for and how Black Lives Matters has come to be the modern day equivalent of them. It presents key similarities and issues that they share. It also highlights their differences and mentions the role of technology in the ladder with the prominent use of #Blacklivesmatter on social media. I like it, because it is connecting the movements and showing the progression of civil rights advocacy. Their use of past and present photographs brings forth history and timeline like sense. Famous historical photographs in the video of the Greensboro sit-ins, police blasting Birmingham protestors with a water, and Martin Luther King Speaking, reminds viewers of the violent and real struggles African Americans endured. The Greensboro sit-in makes one feel the power of unified resistance. The Birmingham photo evokes emotion and empathy for the protestors. The video uses a man singing with diction such as freedom, justice, and peace which helps establish the tone of the Black Panthers and their goals. The snip of audio of a protest parallels the Black Lives Matters protest scene towards the end, which furthers the point that Black Lives Matters is like today’s Black Panthers. Also, showing the faces of the people who make up both movements gives a personal tone, especially because they present their own perspectives and experiences. They do this both in the video and in the photographs.

The Piece includes text, a video, and photographs. At times it felt dreadful to read, because it isn’t as direct as it could be. It uses indirect mentions of the movement it is talking about, which might be to build the story, but I found it unnecessary. It fills the article with some jargon in order to be dramatic. The video seems to be in a documentary style and that clashes with the story like effort of the article. At times the video itself starts trying to convert to a story style. This drags on the time and makes it boring because it doesn’t feel like it was executed to it’s highest potential. At times I wonder how they picked the people they used in the video and why they didn’t use the founders of the Black Lives Matters movement. However, it appears that they used speakers of both genders (perhaps some fall outside the binary, but this an observation based on pronouns used). This makes the video inclusive and gives a gender diverse perspective. The piano music in the latter half of the video was suppose to make the personal stories more emotional. However, it felt a bit cliche to me and therefore it felt forced. As for the photographs, the ones that came from the Black Panthers era were better to me. For instance the photograph of the bullets holes in the Newton for Congress posters at the Black Panthers headquarters, showcases violence and oppression. That photograph feels powerful, eye catching, and disruptive. As do the ones in the video. In contrast, they mostly used up close photographs of Black Lives Matters members, which again feels overused and cliche.

The angle of the article was perhaps intended to be personal and put the faces of the members of both parties in your face. But its overuse of up close photographs and clips of members feels posed, cliche, and therefore inauthentic. It’s missing the rawness and passion that lived and lives within the movements. Using a different media, like graphics to visually show where their similarities cross, or a different style of photograph, might have been better.

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