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Modern Journalism: Five Skills Required to Be a Visual Journalist

May 30, 2014 General, Visual Journalism 0 Comments

Modern Journalism: Five Skills Required to Be a Visual JournalistJournalism is most effective when it combines the use of images and the written word. Strong imagery can transcend language, capturing attention and conveying a message in a single moment. Modern journalism is moving away from traditional print and incorporating more visual elements, so journalists today must be prepared to blend both visual and written techniques. The following are five skills required to communicate stories through images as a visual journalist:

1. Innovation

In light of the rapidly changing media landscape, modern journalism requires a great deal of innovation. Media publications are struggling to find new approaches to reach and connect with shrinking audiences. It's up to both print and visual journalists to not only recognize the importance of emerging trends, but to anticipate the next big thing before they are left behind. In addition, visual journalists need to find innovative solutions to problems and come up with new products that maximize revenue potential.

2. Newsgathering

Just like their print counterparts, visual journalists require excellent newsgathering skills. In today's complex world, the wealth of available information is overwhelming. The ability to distill a large amount of meaningful information in just one image (or group of images) is an imperative skill. Visual journalists should also be able to present complete and accurate information, all while keeping ethical journalism practices in mind.

3. News Production

Newsgathering skills aren't enough; visual journalists also need to know how to turn that information into a presentable format with a complex understanding of the audience's expectations and needs. In a multimedia environment, visual journalists should also have the ability to present visual stories on different types of platforms. For example, they need to know how to present images on the Web, prepare video segments for documentaries, create infographics for print and generate animation for digital media. There aren't many visual journalists who work entirely on one platform.

4. Technical and Multimedia

Visual journalists also need to have the technical know-how to work behind the scenes on the multiple platforms mentioned above. Often overlooked, multimedia skills are required in almost every facet of this type of journalism. Visual journalists need the skills to tell their stories through video, graphics, audio and photos. Therefore, they not only need to be skilled at photography and video production, but they also must also be able to use HTML, CSS, PHP, Flash, JavaScript, ActionScript 3 and Python.

5. Interpersonal

Visual journalists also need to be able to communicate with strangers in order to obtain insight and information. They need stellar interviewing skills, especially when questioning a source on-screen or via audio. Visual journalists aren't just sitting at a computer. They're out on the field, interacting with people on a daily basis.

As media continues to shift and change, these fundamental skills will be more important than ever for new visual journalists entering the exciting and dynamic field of modern journalism.

Photo credit: Flickr

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