Ronald A. Yaros, a journalism professor at the University of Maryland and the director of the Lab For Communicating Complexity, contended in his 2009 article Mastering Multimedia
that journalists need to find a way to keep readers engaged in online media packages. He argues that a good package needs to be “contiguous”– that is, the process of adding multimedia elements and combining them with text at just the right place in a story.
Back in 2009, and still today, publications will throw print articles online, slap a video next to or underneath the article, and call it a multimedia package. But Yaros argues that placement of multimedia components must be intentional and accommodate a reader’s instinct to think linearly on a non-linear webpage.
Yaros explains: “Text with one or two specific photos plus at least one brief (i.e., 10-second) video clip, combined with appropriately placed audience input and an explanatory graphic or brief animation addressed in the text, is more effective at extending the engagement of the general news audience than a dense page of text or a page with four- or five-minute videos.”
Readers need breaks in their reading or the writer will lose them. But these breaks also have to make sense, and they can’t last for to long. Thus, a block of text and then a one or two minute video that further illustrates the text and stimulates the senses increases the reader’s time on the page.