BJ Koubaroulis, founder of Synthesis Media Productions, visited our class on March 31 to discuss the importance of video to enhance journalistic stories.

Koubaroulis graduated from George Mason University in 2004 and eventually became a sports writer for The Washington Post. He emphasized that he fell in love with following high school level sports as opposed to following college level or professional level sports.

“[High school level sports] is where you get the most access and get the most real people — people who really enjoy what they’re doing, and it’s not for the money,” Koubaroulis said.

He recommended that students first start working at a small newspaper organization so that they have the opportunity to learn what kind of stories they like and don’t like to cover, and so that they can learn to make mistakes. In Koubaroulis’s opinion, it is better to make mistakes at smaller organizations rather than larger ones.

Koubaroulis became a superstar at The Washington Post in 2010 when he posted a story about a student’s homeless odyssey.’ His story stood out amongst others because he added video to his text.

Video gave me the clout to demand more space for a story,” said Koubaroulis.

Nowadays, the use of video and other multimedia platforms have become very important for journalists, therefore young writers should start learning how to produce various multimedia platforms in order to catch readers’ and potential employers’ attention. Koubaroulis’ young interns at Synthesis Media Productions actually produce multimedia packages within 2 hours of covering a story!

“Media companies want to hire people that can do the job of 5 people,” Koubaroulis said. “Do radio, television, video and learn how to use the web — learn all if it!… If you’re not going to change, you’re just going to get left behind. Do all of it, and don’t limit yourself.”

Student journalists need to be able to multi-task and produce stories that contain video, audio and user-participation platforms in order to be valuable. Student journalists can no longer just be a writer because any other person out there can be a writer, but it is difficult to replace a writer when he or she can perform so many other functions.

Koubaroulis said that there are 4 things every student journalist needs, which are:

  1. A camera
  2. A computer
  3. A microphone
  4. The desire to work hard

While technology is very important these days, Koubaroulis warned students to not rely too heavily on media.

“Love it,” Koubaroulis said, “but don’t count on it.”