Kitting up for College: Multimedia journalism tutor D J Clark gives his gear recommendations

Guest post by D J Clark of the University of Bolton:

Teaching the MA in Multimedia Journalism in Beijing

We made a radical decision when setting up a new MA in Multimedia Journalism in Beijing: no equipment other than a table, lots of plug sockets and a projector. We worked out that any equipment we might buy for the course could well be out of date by the time the next academic year rolled around. So rather than buy equipment for the class, we reduced the fees by one-third and told the students to buy their own. Admittedly this was easier for us to do than it would be for most other journalism courses, as the kit needed was relatively inexpensive and most of the students were practicing journalists so were likely to already have most of what they might need.

This leaves us with a yearly task of working out what has changed since the previous year, putting ourselves in the shoes of the new students and asking: If I was them, what would I buy?

This is a PDF of the list for 2012. But before you click (if you have not already) it needs a little explaining.

Our course teaches six core multimedia journalism skills: photography, video, audio, writing, social networking and infographics, in all of which the students need to demonstrate a basic professional level of competence. So there are compromises to make. The students on tight budgets are normally looking for equipment that can perform more than one task, like a DSLR for video, stills and possibly basic audio too. However, in the second half of the course the students work on self-directed projects that could well have a much stronger emphasis on one or two media types, so we try and recommend a range of specialised equipment too.

For students working for media organisations with budgets, we always provide a better option than the basic models too. Hence the list covers a range of mid-level to low-end equipment. We get very few requests from anyone for high-end gear.

I would be interested to hear your comments.

I have also made a series of quick videos that demonstrate the kit I work with as a solo multimedia journalist – shooting both stills and video. The videos were designed to be shown to students but others may find them useful.

In the video below I show what I carry in my ‘multimedia backpack’ that I would would bring on every major assignment.

DJs bag part1: the bag from D J Clark on Vimeo.

In part 2 I show a minimal kit that I would take on assignments where space is restricted, or I want to travel light or keep a low profile.

In part 3 I demonstrate two additional add-ons, a slider and roving microphone, these I would take on specific assignments.

In part 4 I unpack a support rig and set it up in different configurations for more complex video assignments.

Finally in part 5, working out of a basic bag, I set up a two camera interview in a confined space, where I am both camera operator and interviewer.

D J Clark is course leader on the MA International Multimedia Journalism, a degree from the University of Bolton in the UK that runs at Beijing Foreign Studies University in China. He is also director of visual journalism at the Asia Center for Journalism and a contract multimedia journalist for China Daily.

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