ABOUT – Common Approaches to New Media Writing

Here are three common purposes for communicating with others:

  • To connect with an audience through personal experience
  • To help an audience better understand a concept or issue
  • To persuade an audience to rethink their views

Below you’ll find a section for each of these purposes that outlines a few new media approaches you can use to fulfill that purpose.

To learn more about your options for new media writing and publishing for each approach, browse the categories on the sidebar.


  • Your Goal: to share a personal experience or belief in a way that makes a connection with audiences who can relate to you
  • Genre: personal narrative or story
  • Length: around 2-3 minutes
  • Sample Topics: what you’ve learned about gender and/or sexuality through personal experience

If the message you want to convey is best supported through a narrative from your own personal experience, whether literally true or “based on a true story,” here are some approaches to consider:

CDS-Style Digital Storytelling

Write a short narrative that focuses on a few significant moments, memories, objects, or events in your life, with the goal of giving your audience some insight into your unique personal experiences and observations. Use vivid details and descriptive language, but leave some room for your vocal delivery and visuals (if applicable) to tell some of the story for you.

Record yourself reading the narrative aloud in the kind of casual and informal style you’d use when talking to a friend.

Want to stop at audio narrative?

Share the audio file via Soundcloud or another audio host that allows you to embed the sound file in a blog post.

Want to keep going to make a visual narrative?

Import the audio clip into an application that allows you to assemble images (and possibly video clips) to go along with the audio voiceover.

  • Option 1: use a video editing app (like iMovie, MovieMaker, or Pixorial.com) to assemble photos on a timeline so they accompany the voiceover. Export the final version as a video file.
  • Option 2: use a web-based digital story app, like Cowbird, PhotoPeach, or Narrable. Upload your photos, record or upload your audio, and publish on the site.

Sources for Visuals

The visual elements typically feature the storyteller, perhaps at different stages of life, but if you have concerns about privacy you may apply photo effects to somewhat disguise your identity. If you use photos of other people, make sure you have their permission to use the photos in a project meant for public viewing.

Animations & Comics

Use a specific situation that happened to you or someone you know, or make up a situation that illustrates your point, and convey the situation in the form of a comic or animation.

Apps & Approaches

Most comic apps give you a full range of characters and settings to choose from, so your main job is to script the dialogue and plan the layout for each panel. Some comic apps let you use your own images for a more customized effect.

A web-based cartoon animation app like GoAnimate also gives you a full range of characters and settings to choose from, as well as a series of automated voices to read the dialogue for your characters.

You can also make animations using physical world objects like paper cutouts or action figures. Using a new media app for capturing stop motion makes this process a lot easier than it once was.

For info on some apps for creating animations and comics, browse this category: RESOURCES: Animations & Comics

Audio or Visual Essay

If you like the idea of the digital storytelling approach but would rather write a personal essay instead of a personal narrative, consider these two options. Both of them are primarily audio formats but could easily be adapted to include visuals.

Option 1: This I Believe: Follow the concept of a “This I Believe” essay made popular by public radio, which has the potential to move a topic in the direction of analysis or viewpoint. For resources and samples on this site, browse the ThisIBelieve tag archive

Option 2: StoryCorps: Another variation comes in the form of StoryCorps style interviews, which focus on sharing personal experiences through dialogue. For resources and samples on this site, browse the StoryCorps tag archive


  • Your Goal: to help your audience better understand a particular issue or concept
  • Genres: educational (to inform, educate, or raise awareness) or analysis (to explain or clarify)
  • Length: 5-6 minutes
  • Secondary Sources: material from articles, books, documentaries, etc. by sources your audience will trust
  • Primary Sources: material from interviews or surveys you conduct, your analysis of artifacts, archival footage, etc.

Resources: See these posts for info on apps suitable for this approach to new media writing: APPROACH: Presentations & Visual Info and APPROACH: Web Writing & Design

If the message you want to convey is best supported through primary or secondary research, here are some approaches to consider.

Educational Presentations & Web Sites

An educational resource might convey the results of your own primary research and/or evidence from secondary sources.

Here are a few common ways to put educational presentations together: linear slide layout (i.e., PowerPoint), zooming slides (Prezi), branching tree layout of mind maps, or multi-section web sites.

Concept in Brief

A good starting place for this approach is to do a survey or poll of a specific population, in order to identify a belief or concept that tends to be a bit confusing or unclear to this population. You can then design your project to provide clarification for this audience.

For example, you might put together a “Concept in 60 Seconds” video using visuals, text, and audio clips or voiceover. Or you might use a presentation app to convey the concept through carefully chosen words and images.

Chronological concept? Use a timeline. Visual concept? Use a mind map, flow chart, or info graphic.


A mini-documentary is a research project composed in video format that follows the conventions of documentary filmmaking but on a much smaller scale. Mini-docs typically fall under the genre of “educational,” but some may be better classified as “viewpoint.”

Mini-docs are composed in video editing apps and exported in video format, but they may contain images, audio clips, voiceover, screencasts, “found” video footage, and animations, as well as live video (such as interviews).

Skills Needed

  • asking good interview questions
  • recording live video (with attention to lighting and sound)
  • importing and editing live video footage


  • Your Goal: to encourage your audience to rethink their views or see an issue in a new light

If the message you want to convey is best supported through persuasive reasoning, whether direct or indirect, here are some approaches to consider:

Public Service Announcement (PSA)

A PSA is typically a 30-60 second commercial that attempts to raise public awareness about an issue by appealing to audiences on an emotional level.

See: How to create a PSA and PSA Research Center

Persuasive Image

Sometimes a single image, if carefully crafted, can convey a powerful and persuasive message. (Search “visual rhetoric” on Google for more info.)

Multimedia Commentary

A multimedia commentary might take the form of a remix or collage that puts pre-existing media material together in a new way, to convey a new message. The “pre-existing” media elements might come from mass media (TV, movies, commercials, news broadcasts, songs), archival footage, screencasts or screenshots of social media, or other sources.

Skills Needed

  • identifying which media you’re permitted to use in a project
  • downloading audio, images, and video clips (and converting file formats, if necessary)
  • importing media into a video editing app
  • assembling media onto a video editing timeline
  • using video editing strategies to adjust pacing and effects
  • exporting a web-ready video file and uploading it to a video host