Jessica M. Levine

Graphics and Audio in Journalism

In Chapter 9 and 11 of Al Tompkins’ “Aim for the Heart,” he discusses the power that graphics and audio have to influence public opinion in journalism and the ethical guidelines for using those elements to enhance a story.

Video and graphics can be used to help the viewers understand the bigger picture as well as the smaller components of a story, but the overall goal is flow.  Also, Tompkins emphasizes the importance of capturing the action.  A reporter can help a photojournalist find the crucial shots that will draw in the viewer’s attention.

In terms of interviewing another subject, Tompkins says it is important to make the camera invisible so the subject feels more comfortable.  This will lead to a better quality film and help the subject to act as naturally as possible.  Also, Tompkins recommends journalists shoot the subject in multiple settings to make the story more interesting.  He warns that if a journalist asks the subject to do something, that information must be disclosed in the story.

In terms of graphics, Tompkins argues that there is no such thing as “photo objectivity” because journalists cannot control the instantaneous and subconscious biases or decisions made about a photo.  To make a photograph as objective as possible, journalists should consider the background images, camera angles, camera movement and proportions because each of these elements add meaning to the graphic, and these elements may influence how the viewers interpret a story.

In Chapter 11, Tompkins progresses to the discussion of audio.  When editing audio, it is important not to change the original meaning of the words by cutting out portions and rearranging the recording.  Also, journalists must consider how additional music and sound effects could influence the audiences emotions.  Even though audio is a sensitive tool in storytelling, Tompkins acknowledges that audio is useful because it allows viewers to experience the story in another way.  Silence is just as important as audio because it can build suspense, according to Tompkins.

Chapters 9 and 11 discuss the power journalists have by incorporating graphics, video and audio into a story, but with that power comes ethical responsibilities for journalists.  How a journalist chooses to edit or shoot graphics, video and film may frame how the audience thinks about a particular story or event, but a journalist must use caution and strive for objectivity.

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This entry was posted on March 27, 2013 by in Journalism Advice and tagged , , .
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