The return of S.P. Sullivan.

Students in Steve Fox’s Multimedia Journalism class got a treat on Tuesday when Umass Journalism alum Sean “S.P.” Sullivan talked to students about what it’s like to break into the multimedia field right out of college.

Sullivan now serves as the associate producer of MassLive.com, the online affiliate of the Springfield Republican.  He graduated in 2010 and worked several internships before landing his current job.  Sullivan advised us all to take advantage of our time at UMass while we’re still surrounded by our peers.  He also stressed the importance of networking and knowing people in your field, recalling that he’s only been called for one interview when applying for jobs with know prior connections.

Sullivan talked about the work he does at MassLive and how to keep up with the changing world of journalism.  Local election coverage is more interactive than ever before.  The site features a dynamic table of election results that offers an up-to-date look at something that was just never feasible before the internet.

We also had an exclusive viewing of Sullivan’s self-proclaimed “micro-documentary” on the recent Springfield tornado aftermath called “The Path of the Storm.”  Sullivan, as a producer, doesn’t always get to create content like this and considered it a nice break from the norm.  The doc featured many dramatic pictures of storm damage and people who were affected dubbed over with interviews of victims from all walks of life.  It was kind of depressing and hopeful at the same time.

What stuck with me about the video was the tranquil music.  Sullivan said that journalists just starting out should never use music in their videos because you’re essentially telling people how to feel.  A feature story like this is one of the few times where music would be appropriate, but not any music.  Sullivan advised it’s very helpful to know musicians who could produce original music for you to avoid licensing issues.  “The Path of the Storm” featured a tune cut by one of S.P.’s editors at MassLive.

Sullivan jokingly said to always oversell your technical skills when applying for multimedia positions, as right now is a great time to know more about computers than your older peers.  Most of his job is just filling all of the holes of a template and fixing that template when something breaks on the site.  Sullivan wisely added, “There isn’t a problem in the world you can’t Google.”

As for the future, Sullivan said to keep an eye on YouTube.  They’re doing some really interesting stuff with creative commons licensing.

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