LJ Filotrani, Senior Lecturer, BA (Hons) Journalism
How one highly respected multimedia journalist is passing on her expertise to the next generation
LJ Filotrani is a Senior Lecturer who definitely practices what she preaches. With a rich and varied career as a multimedia journalist behind her, she brings her passion for digital development to her role on our BA (Hons) Journalism, all the while running her own business focusing on self-publishing, creating multimedia content and helping businesses make better use of digital communication channels.
"I started my career in journalism quite conventionally in trade publications and then local press covering a range of editorial from property to health, to jobs and even motoring. And although I had experience of working with websites previously, it wasn't until moving to the Guardian that I found myself working completely online," says LJ. "As site editor I was responsible for creating and launching a new multimedia microsite called 'Careers Guardian' - growing a hub of talent. I introduced live Q&As with industry experts, blogs, podcasts, events, videos and many more ways for an audience to interact with our content online. It was the first time I had worked so closely with developers in order to directly influence how content ideas could translate into online features."."
Insight into the future of journalism
The experience is one that LJ credits with giving her an insight into the future of journalism, where a variety of content types would be used to communicate a story. "I developed a wide range of skills, and had the freedom to experiment with content," she says. IT was a great opportunity to play around with functionality, and it was so quick to progress from having an idea to seeing the content live – there was a lot of trial and error, but it was an amazing experience."
Focus on audio
During her time at the Guardian, LJ identified that audio was a huge area of potential growth online, thanks to its accessibility. "I think audio is an amazing medium – an intimate experience that is immediate and mobile – it's just brilliant!" she says. "When I had the chance to go to the Financial Times and focus on audio, it was the ideal move for me. As a listener, you bring your own cultural references to the experience and create your own image in your mind. It's such an individual experience, and it engages the imagination in ways that you don't even realise."
It is all experience that LJ brings to her students through lectures and seminars. "My practical skills are exactly what is required of a Multimedia Journalist," she say. "I'm trained in audio and video, I have experience of news and features, and I can build websites – which is what I now teach on the course."
LJ teaches students to build sites in Wordpress, helping them to work as digital journalists as they produce video, audio and text. "I teach the portfolio in the third year, which is multimedia reporting," she says. "Students have to produce a story using three different mediums – video, audio and text. They learn how each medium has a different functionality, and why you might choose one medium over another. I also teach audio documentary; creating programmes online but using that content to make effective use of the web and to engage with an audience."
Despite her considerable experience as a journalist, LJ is extremely aware that she herself has not finished learning, and is keen to instil a desire for continued development into all her students. "I'm not just regurgitating what I have learned, but I keep pushing myself and learning about what can be done with the latest technology," she says.
It's important that I keep doing my own research and investigating so that I stay at the forefront of developments in journalism practice, and I can pass that on to the students.