Education Editor Melanie Coulson reports on media consultant Mario Garcia's recent presentation to staff at the Ottawa Citizen, in which he said the next wave of storytelling should consider platforms from the moment of conception.

By Melanie Coulson, Education Editor

Media consultant Mario Garcia was at the Ottawa Citizen today to share his thoughts on a new wave in storytelling, in which four platforms (mobile, tablet, web and print) are considered at the conception of a story.

Thursday’s talk was a pared-down version of a course he’ll be teaching next term at the Columbia School of Journalism called “Storytelling in the age of the tablet.”

Multimedia storytelling is to be considered as a story is assigned, Garcia said, something all newsrooms should be doing, but they’re not.

“Multimedia is like sex in junior high,” Garcia said. “Everybody says they’re doing it but nobody really is.”

In his intro he noted that he was at the Ottawa Citizen in 1980 to help redesign the newspaper.

“The furniture is the same,” he quipped to laughter. He divided his talk into six themes:

Accepting change

Newsrooms are in an era of great change, Garcia noted. There are people who are better at accepting change than others. Age has nothing to do with this, he added.

Change happens best in a newsroom when people who are ready for change invite their colleagues to see what they can do, and invite them to join them.

Garcia joked that when uncomfortable with change, editors cling to the past way of doing things, like a comforting teddy bear. He used himself as an example, who first balked at the thought that his ebook on tablet design would never be printed.

“How will I sign it?” he asked his editor.

The change in news is fundamental.

News in 2013 can be best described as “anything you know now that you didn’t know 15 minutes or 15 seconds ago,” Garcia said. The audience are reporters, they are everywhere, reporting news, tweeting photos, etc.

Yes, shrinking newsrooms have lost the time advantage, and they aren’t everywhere. But the role of a news organization is more essential than ever.The job of the modern editor is to make sense of it, and deliver a story to the audience, “to enhance.”

Garcia added that this applies to breaking news, there will always be room for exclusives and scoops.

“But there is no room for mediocre in the modern newsroom,” he said. Everyone must be willing to work and try new things.

Read the rest of the story at Melanie Coulson’s blog.