Take charge of that journalism project

Think you can get away with just a pen and a notebook? Think again! You can still specialize, but expect to get outside of your comfort zone once in a while, because it’s all about the multi-platform project these days.

Everyone’s seen The Globe and Mail‘s Emmy award–winning series, Talking to the Taliban, and if it hasn’t popped up in your inbox or Twitter feed already this week, you should all check out USA Today‘s latest venture, Five Years Later: Hurricane Katrina.

It’s these kinds of big-budget, big-show pieces that get noticed, but it’s a mistake to think that as a student, it’s beyond your capability. Go big! Mark S. Luckie at 10,000 Words recently posted a list of his top six multimedia student projects, and they’re all incredibly impressive. (The BART project on the Bay Area’s transit system is, I think, especially cool.)

But there’s much to now about journalism projects, and Paul Bradshaw at the Online Journalism Blog has published a list of five tips on the subject, taken from a ProPublica lecture.

1. Three-quarters of the top 10 stories on the site were news apps
2. When you publish a story, ask for data
3. Have both quantitative and qualitative fields in your forms

To see the rest of the list, cheek out the whole post.

In the meantime, with summer coming to an end and the first day of school looming, why not start thinking about some potential projects. The next time a killer idea for a feature comes into your head (and you best hope that happens soon because profs will demand the best from you), why not think about how it could translate to a project? How could you incorporate sound and video and images and, better still, audience engagement? There’s always a way to turn a good idea into a great piece.

Personally, I’ve been jonesing to do a project on panda bears for years, but that’s just me. What about you?