The digital department director at Radio Rozana Mais Katt continues to train journalists from the Middle East and North Africa region in order to hone their skills in digital journalism. Among the most important skills that Katt offered were methods of verifying information, storytelling tools, journalist’s cybersecurity, ways to engage the audience, and other skills that contribute to developing the journalistic material.
After the first webinar that was held on 12 November as part of the International Center for Journalists’ new training series on mobile and video journalism, which was inaugurated by the Syrian journalist Mais Katt, director of the digital department at Radio Rozana, who provided instructions and methods for journalists on how to use mobile phones to produce press content, the International Center for Journalists organized a second two-hour webinar on Thursday 19 November, with the participation and interaction of 370 journalists from the Middle East and North Africa.
During the training workshop entitled “How to build your visual story…start with the idea and do not stop after publishing,” Katt touched on several points, including the different stages of forming the idea, choosing the angle, the storyboard, interviews, the use of music, the publishing plan, as well as the continuation of the story events after publishing the video.
At the start of the training session, Katt indicated that the visual content industry has greatly developed in recent years and the visual stories are reaching a greater number of audiences, which brings to the fore the importance of learning video story production skills nowadays.
Katt explained that the visual story producers may use both video and pictures in their reports and that he/she can add animation and graphic elements to help the audience understand the content of the story.
Katt brought up some of the questions that journalists should raise during the first stage of the work and before resuming the production process, such as: “What is the story you want to tell? How is it structured? Who are the heroes of the story? Who is your target audience in general?” Where will the material be published?
Journalists should be concise as possible when writing the text of the visual story, said Katt, who provided several examples of distinguished graphic stories that the participants admired and asked for links to re-watch them.
The journalist also stressed the importance of analyzing the idea, in case it carries a new and creative concept, and that journalists should sense if the editor would agree to it. She also urged the participants in the session to present their ideas to the editor in an accurate and concise manner and use clear terminology.
Moving on to outlining the storyboard plan, Katt explained that drawing an outline to sort out the visualization of the video story contributes to organised ideas. She presented a model for a work plan and explained how to use it, noting that “when journalists go to filming locations, they may encounter surprising changes in the filming plan which they must adjust to, however, these surprises will be less stressful and easy to overcome when the work is planned in advance.”
While talking about how to conduct interviews, Katt recommended that journalists ask the guests open-ended questions and in different ways in order to get clear answers.
Similarly, Katt highlighted the importance of making use of the power of music, that is, to use appropriate music while producing the story, instead of “monotonous music all through the video.”
Finally, when the publishing stage comes, “the publishing plan and video promotion are almost as important as content production,” said Katt, explaining the need for post-publication follow up, that is, “the stories that take place after publication.”
She continued: “Many stories do not stop after the video is broadcasted, as publishing the story may bring about changes to people’s lives,” and at the end of the session, Katt suggested that journalists should produce new stories that highlight the changes that happened because of the story after being published.
It is noteworthy that the training sessions were held remotely, as an extension of the training of journalists in the Middle East and North Africa within the “Social Media Platforms Solutions” program, which was launched in partnership with the Facebook Journalism Project and in cooperation with the Global Health Crisis Reporting Forum held by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the International Journalists’ Network (IJNet). The training workshops will be held weekly and will include interactive lectures with highly experienced trainers.
Mais Katt is a journalist and expert in digital journalism and co-founder of Radio Rozana and the Rozana Media Development Center (RMD). Katt has trained many Syrian and Arab journalists and gave lectures on digital journalism and the digital and visual narration of journalistic stories. She has also worked in the field of investigative journalism with Arab and international institutions to prepare in-depth projects focusing on the Middle East and Syria in particular.