Multimedia Journalist Job Description
Multimedia journalists create and publish news, feature, and opinion content in print publications and on websites. This role can encompass a large number of tasks, ranging from traditional news reporting to developing interactive pieces that engage site visitors and drive traffic. Multimedia journalists balance traditional journalist tasks such as research, writing, and fact-checking with emerging digital technologies to drive users to the site.
Many multimedia journalists work on a freelance or per-piece basis, but some work in newsrooms and contribute to both print and digital outlets. In either case, multimedia journalists work with teams that can include site managers, editors, and graphic designers to create compelling, well-reported stories.
Multimedia Journalist Duties and Responsibilities
Based on postings that we analyzed, most multimedia journalists share several core responsibilities:
Produce Media Content
One of the central duties of a multimedia journalist is writing stories and producing other media for web or print publication. This aspect of the role can range from reporting breaking news to developing feature-length pieces and interviews. Additionally, a multimedia journalist may write scripts or otherwise produce videos or develop and design infographics. The specific topic depends on the multimedia journalist’s specific field of expertise and focus.
Conducting research for stories and other pieces of content is also central to the multimedia journalist’s role. This part of the job requires a high level of attention to detail to follow leads, identify interview subjects, and ensure that a piece’s facts are correct and verified. Multimedia journalists also pitch pieces and research subjects to find a fresh angle on a story or a novel method of presenting it.
Publish Content Online
Many multimedia journalists also publish content online using a variety of content management systems (CMS). This aspect of the job requires a balance of technical and creative skills, as multimedia journalists may need to incorporate text, graphics, and videos into their stories and work with managing editors to ensure that content added to a CMS appears correctly on the site or within the application.
Design Graphic and Video Elements
Frequently, multimedia journalists design graphic elements that are incorporated into longer pieces. For example, a multimedia journalist may determine that an infographic or slideshow will engage viewers for a specific story. The journalist then uses their research and determines the flow of information within that graphic, frequently working with an illustrator or graphic artist to combine text and image.
Promote Content on Social Media
Most multimedia journalists also promote their stories and other content on social media sites. This requires the journalist to post links to stories and promote them across a variety of social media platforms. Additionally, multimedia journalists may need to engage with readers or site visitors on social media to respond to questions or address concerns about the published piece.
Multimedia Journalist Skills and Qualifications
Multimedia journalists use a variety of tools and formats to report on news stories and develop web content. Workers in this role typically have at least a bachelor's degree and the following skills:
- Writing skills – multimedia journalists have strong writing skills and should be able to use various tones and formats to present information to readers across sites
- Research abilities – strong analytical and research abilities are central to this role, since multimedia journalists need to track down and interview sources, verify information, and conduct background research
- Multimedia production skills – in addition to writing, multimedia journalists need to develop videos and interactive content for new sites and apps, so production skills are frequently necessary
- Attention to detail – multimedia journalists should have a high level of accuracy and attention to detail to ensure that they present facts correctly and accurately quote sources
- Time management – effective time management is essential for multimedia journalists, since they need to handle multiple deadlines and often need to report on breaking news
- Team collaboration – many multimedia journalists work with teams that can include producers, editors, and social media managers, so effective team collaboration is key
Tools of the Trade
Multimedia journalists typically work in office settings, so they should be familiar with standard office equipment and software in addition to the following:
- Image and video editing software (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere)
- Content management systems (WordPress, Drupal)
Multimedia Journalist Education and Training
Most multimedia journalists have at least a bachelor's degree in journalism or communications. Additionally, experience with video editing or digital reporting can help job-seekers secure employment in this field. Multimedia journalists should also have extensive portfolios that highlight their ability to produce content for a variety of audiences. Some experience with HTML and CSS can also expand career opportunities.
Multimedia Journalist Salary and Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes multimedia journalists as reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts. As of May 2017, the BLS found that reporters and correspondents earned a median annual salary of $39,370, with the highest-paid 10 percent earning more than $90,450 and the lowest-paid 10 percent earning less than $22,970 per year. It is also worth noting that many multimedia journalists are paid on a per-piece basis, so income can vary.
The BLS expects employment in this field to decline by nine percent between 2016 and 2026, but does not provide specific estimates for multimedia journalists.
We searched the web and found many resources if you're interested in starting a career as a multimedia journalist:
The National Press Club – multimedia journalists can join this professional organization to access professional development materials and connect with other journalists through conferences and events.
The Principles of Multimedia Journalism: Packaging Digital News by Richard Koci Hernandez and Jeremy Rue – this book explores the principles of multimedia and digital journalism, focusing on experimental forms and how content is packaged.
Online News Association (ONA) – the ONA is a professional organization that specifically focuses on digital and multimedia journalism, offering its members educational resources, an annual conference, and local chapters.
Multimedia Journalism: A Practical Guide by Andy Bull – read this book to learn the basics of multimedia and digital journalism, with chapters on social media, branding, live reporting, and mobile apps.