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I'm an assistant professor at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, where I teach and research how news sites can better reach their audiences. I received my Ph.D. from the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri where I was one of the founding editors of MyMissourian.com, a citizen journalism site for Columbia, Mo. Before graduate school, I worked as a community newspaper editor in Southern Utah and Southern California.

New orgs pay attention! Nike does multimedia right

About to head to class and give my last two finals of the quarter. Thanks to my lovely wife, I’ve two Tupperware full of chocolate-drizzled Rice Krispie treats. It’s about the only way I can get students to come.

Before I go, however, I must link to Nike’s new uniform campaign. Thanks to all my friends who posted this on their Facebook feeds because it’s a perfect quickie blog entry. Media companies need to pay attention. This is how you should add value and interest with multimedia. I watched the Mizzou and the Ohio State videos at least twice each, and I’m so pumped up now, I’m about to see if the local sporting goods store carries one of the “Beast Mode” Ts in offensive lineman size, and that’s what makes this campaign great.

You see, I’m broke. There’s no way I’m buying a jersey, which I’m sure is pretty expensive. I’m not even that big of a football fan. However, I spent 20 minutes playing with the site, clicking on different aspects of the uniform and listening to the narration over and over again. (I even thought about recording it and making it my start-up sound.) I was almost late for a final.

This is what multimedia journalism needs to do, and now is the time for it. In that final, students gave presentations on the process behind their stories. Over and over again, they mentioned that people just don’t know what’s going on around them. Many of their projects started out as diatribes but ended up as simple educational pieces. This is what good journalism does, I emphasized. It informs people, and sometimes, simply informing them will make people start caring.

When approaching the Internet, the media could learn a thing or two from Nike. Giving people a reason to spend 20 minutes with the news is the key, and it doesn’t have to be all about bells and whistles. I could show a score of examples here of multimedia journalism that does just that from any of the MediaStorm pieces to recent work at the Dallas Morning News. Instead I want to focus on The Spirit of Athens, a joint project between the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and the School of Visual Communications at Ohio, because most of the projects demonstrate it doesn’t take advanced flash programming, such as what Nike did, to get audiences interested in the news. All it takes is a good story, well planned and well executed. Check some of the stories out. I especially like “A Farewell to Farms” and from 2007 “Surgery of the Soul.”

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