Freelance video journalist John Vandewege discussed with IJJ fellows multimedia storytelling and how to use the available technology. He stumbled into this field with a co-worker at LA Times who combined still images and footage of LA children.

Vandewege narrated that he once trained about 30 reporters to use Sony cameras to do their own multimedia stories. The reporters returned with arresting images that had “all the elements to tell the story.”

He then showed videos and asked fellows and participants to name what captured their attention. Some participants touted the footage with natural sound that precedes the voice over; others commented that the common thread between videos was engaging images.

Shooting the ideal images is important and Frank Sotomayor, associate director of the Institute for Justice in Journalism, asked what can journalist with little resources do to start using multimedia sources.

“It’s all about the images,” Vandewege answered, stressing that poignant and relevant footage can be taken even with archaic and low quality equipment.

As an example, he mentioned a story on a Salvadorian prison whose images where taken with a simple camera. The low quality images and shaky footage didn’t distract from the subject in question. “Who care what the video looked like,” he quipped. “What’s important is the access.”

Valerie Lopez, Metro San Juan’s associate editor asked for tips to help print journalists use cameras. Aside from encouraging a visit to, he  asked us to consider the light source and avoid shooting behind a window, which will avoid flooding natural light. The camera should get close to the subject to better receive the audio. Holding the shot steadily is paramount and he asked to avoid zooming. “There is not real reason for it,” he said. He finally suggested staying on one side of the 180 line.

Fellows praised the “flip” cameras for its user friendly qualities. It costs about $100 and it is commonly used on internet sites and even television.

The discussion ended with an emotional video of a seal poisoned with a neuro-toxic substance. The story created awareness about ocean pollution.