Critiquing Multimedia

Students on the www.immj-ma.org should be actively critiquing published multimedia news stories, as well as their own and fellow peer’s assignments. You will be expected to critique the news you are consuming individually in a news diary as part of one of your theory assignments. You will also evaluate weekly #IMMJMA assignments in class This will take place in weekly class ‘crits’, in focus groups and informally with your classmates.

This page includes a helpful set of questions to make a considered critique, you’ll need to assess both the strengths and weaknesses of multimedia journalism stories. We expect you to participate and be vocal.

1. STORY BASICS

  • What is the topic or subject of the story about?
  • What’s the focus?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • Why is it important that this story is told / How is it newsworthy?
  • Are any of these questions unclear? If so, help your team mate to find solutions.

2. JOURNALISM & REPORTING

Consider the title, subhead (dek) and subject of the story.

  • Does the headline/title accurately reflect the content of the story?
  • Does the subhead concisely summarise the story?

Subject, focus and nut graph.

  • Is the subject of the story focus / angle clear
  • Is the story focus newsworthy — interesting / compelling / important?
  • Does the focus translate into a nut graph that the audience can clearly grasp?
  • Is the nut-graph in the right place? or too soon or too late?
  • *For more information on story focus & nut graph please read the note tagged to the bottom of the page.

Research & context

  • Does the student and story indicate sufficient research to provide good knowledge, context and understanding of the story?

Sourcing, Fairness, Balance & Accuracy:

  • Are the sources good / credible? Diverse? Attributed & Hyperlinked?
  • Could you tell if the reporter had picked a “side” in the story they were telling? Explain why you answered yes or no to this question about balance.

3. CONTENT

Is it primarily a single media or multimedia story? For single media stories, simply asses the single media. First comment on all individual media elements:

  • Photography
  • Text (AP style)
  • Video
  • Graphics
  • Other
  • What were the best parts about this story and what parts were less effective? If there is a primary media like video you can break down the primary media into most and least effective parts.
  • Overall, Do you think the different MM elements were used well? Are good choices being made about which information to put into text, which into video and which into pictures and graphics? Why / Why not?
  • Is photography being used effectively? Why / Why not? How could it be better?
  • During the interviews in the video, did they hold your interest or were they too long? Give specific examples from the video.
  • Where the visuals interesting? What got your attention? Were there too many shots that were similar to each other or was there a good variety? Use specific examples.
  • Do you think there’s an opportunity for social engagement — how / what?

4. AUDIENCE EXPERIENCE

  • Is there a Clear target audience?
  • As a whole, were you engaged?
  • Did you get bored or Confused?
  • What specifically interested you?
  • If you felt the story was too long what would you choose to cut? (In the whole story & in the video)
  • Overall choices & combination of elements — Did elements compliment or repeat?
  • At the end of the story are you confused about anything or are you left with a question that you think needs answering?
  • Does the story structure and organisation have a good, logical flow? How could it be improved?
  • Length — Too long or too short Typical term 1 assignments should take around 5 to 15 minutes to view. Term 2 & 3 multimedia feature stories should take no longer than 30 mins to complete. However this is a very rough guide. Stories maybe longer or shorter.
  • Was journalistic sensibility used to filter and select information well. Informing and engaging the audience. Providing enough context and information without overloading or overwhelming an audience.

5 DESIGN & PRESENTATION

  • What’s your first impression?
  • Design & Presentation. Is it simple and clean enough to easily read and view content?
  • Would an unfamiliar visitor know the purpose of the story quickly or by looking at the homepage?
  • Where did you look first? Next? Next? Which links did you want to click on?
  • Easy to explore & Navigational flow of project. Is it Smooth and logical or confusing? Logical use of chunking / subheadings etc. Do you easily understand how to navigate the story, or are you confused? Why
  • How about the design? Why do you like, or dislike, the colours, fonts, general layout, etc.?
  • How about the video subtitle font, is it suitable and easy to read?
  • What works well on this story, and how can the designer improve it?

ENGLISH

Language, Grammar & Style — It’s critical that stories are well written and smooth to read. Subtitles, captions and so on all need careful attention. (Poor English seriously impacts your grade, get used to proofreading with a partner).


  • NOTE STORY FOCUS: The story focus is essentially what your story is really about. It’s not a topic or subject, it’s a story. For example migration is a topic, within the topic of migration there are infinite story angles. One focus might focus on how crackdown on the use of unlicensed e-bikes and tricycles is making life harder for huge numbers of migrant workers. Another story might focus on the social and psychological impact on ‘left behind’ children. A nut graph is a story focus rendered into a concise text paragraph. Feature text stories always have a nut graph, multimedia stories usually have a written nut graph. Video stories may have a clear nut graph presented in a text slide or narration, but not always. Even if a video story doesn’t have an explicit nut graph, it should have a sound byte which delivers the story focus and makes the point of the story clear. Again, photo essays sometimes have an explicit nut graph but not always. They do however have a clear focus. Take this photo essay for example, ‘Rat Tribe’ focuses on low wage migrant workers who live in Beijing’s underground. “Waiters, karaoke hostesses, hairdressers, chefs, security guards, domestic workers and kitchen helpers, these basement dwellers are the backbone of Beijing’s service industry. But they have been unkindly dubbed the “rat tribe” for making a home in Beijing’s 6,000 basements and air raid shelters.”
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