Multimedia Storytelling: Merely old wine in new bottles or the best way to good public narratives?

Contribution for the 5th European Communication Conference, ECREA 2014, LISBOA “Communication for Empowerment: Citizens, Markets, Innovations”, 12.-15. November 2014.
Over 1200 participants coming from 49 countries, the conference will feature 187 parallel sessions with a total of 693 presentations.

Multimedia storytelling is the combination of the strengths of textual, visual and acoustic approaches, demanding a major challenge for a reinvention of media, design and journalism. Based on the tensions between the different channels of perception the networked and interactive media offer a broad stage for journalistic storytelling – and furthermore strengthening the role of the public audiences. The importance of the audience increases in technical manners, too: competences in design and competences in journalism are merging into new user-oriented combinations referring to the quality of content and of experience. Thus what is actually intended? And: Does it really work in the public eye? This research explores: What multimedia experts from different fields recommend? What are the important intentions for the makers of recent journalistic multimedia projects? Do they succeed or fail to implement interesting themes for a broader public being clear and attractive enough? We focus the implementation of journalists` core functions in particular within democratic political systems and the transfer and the usability of narration to improve the transmission of news and public discourses. We explored journalistic multimedia stories on several topics (sports, politics etc.) that were published in 2013 on journalistic media platforms in German speaking media.
The methodology comprehends qualitative and quantitative approaches, which included in-depth guideline-based Interviews and online surveys respectively. Our contribution focuses on the comparison of: a) key recommendations about the perception and its effects, investigated in guideline-based Interviews with experts on design and journalism; b) key findings and experiences of practitioners involved in the latest multimedia storytelling-projects; c) users who do not only appreciate such a project but who also share their impressions and findings going through the structured questionnaire. We have explored hidden potentials and some basic misunderstandings between the audience and the makers. One of the primary finding is that the recipients regard design as an important factor of innovation but until now there is little or no consideration of such design aspects in the production processes; there seem to be more potentials in other respects, too, for example referring to media interaction as an impactful factor of good storytelling. (Marlis Prinzing/Christof Breidenich)