Speaker Q&A: Adam Westbrook, freelance multimedia journalist

news:rewired is asking its speakers to tell us more about themselves. Next up is freelance multimedia journalist Adam Westbrook, on how using different media benefits his journalism.

Adam is speaking at our session on multimedia journalism. The full line-up of speakers is at this link, but you can hear more from Adam on his personal website.

Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you get into journalism?
I first got involved in journalism volunteering in Ghana and kept it up through my student years. I trained in broadcast journalism at City University in 2006 and it was there I first got excited about the potential for videojournalism and multimedia.

After training I spent three years in the midlands and Yorkshire cutting my teeth as a local radio reporter. Going local is definitely the best way to go for anyone who wants to do reporting in my opinion: I’ve been lucky enough to cover some big stories first-hand, from the ’07 floods to the Iraq conflict.

What has been the most challenging aspect of being a multimedia journalist for you?
Well, first of all, there’s a practical challenge of being able to carry all the kit and use it all at the same time! I’ve found myself holding a camera in one hand and an audio recorder in the other, wondering how I’m going to get a photograph too.

But more than that, the biggest challenge of multimedia journalism is satisfying the demands of each medium: video needs you to think in pictures, but radio wants great sound; they both want sequences over time, but photographs want just a split second. Trying to come back with all three well done is difficult. It’s not impossible, as some would have you believe, but it’s difficult.

What benefits has learning how to produce multiple media brought to your work?
It has given me a sharpened sense of storytelling, in that I now ask myself “what is the best way to tell this story?” It makes me think really hard about what the visuals and the narrative might be. Being able to marry my (basic!) photography skills with my radio knowledge has introduced me to the exciting possibilities of audio slideshows, which I hope will become a powerful medium over the coming years.

The greatest benefit of “being multimedia”, of course, is it keeps you in the game. I think anyone who shuns multimedia skills now runs the risk of becoming unemployable.

One journalistic tool you couldn’t live without and why?
Probably my Google Reader and Twitter. Both provide a rich source of ideas, inspiration and help me figure out what’s next for journalism.

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