‘A Police Officer’s Mantra’: Student Uses Multimedia Storytelling to Feature Community Member

As the communications director for the City of Whitehall, Ohio, Communications@Syracuse student Gail Martineau must tell great stories about the community she works in. Communications@Syracuse is helping her build the skills she needs to bring those stories to life.

In a recent interview, we asked Martineau to tell us why she chose the Communications@Syracuse program and to provide us with a behind-the-scenes look at “A Police Officer’s Mantra,” a project she produced in her Multimedia Storytelling class.

Why did you decide to earn your Master of Science in Communications?

I always knew I wanted to earn a master’s degree—probably even before I finished earning my undergraduate degree. It’s always been a personal goal of mine. While I did not go straight to grad school after earning my undergraduate degree, I never lost the desire to do it. I just never found the right program. While I have a number of great schools here in my backyard, nothing seemed like it was the right fit.

Then an ad for the Communications@Syracuse program popped up in my Facebook feed. I clicked on the link and found it really interesting. It sounded like something that I could fit in my life. I didn’t have to quit my job and it was the degree I wanted. Plus you can’t get any better than the Newhouse School. So I filled out the form for more information. The rest is history.

Tell us more about your assignment. What were you tasked with?

As part of my Multimedia Storytelling class, our final project was to create a journalistic-style interview piece that incorporated all of the skills we learned throughout the entire term—storyboarding, structure, shooting, camera angles. It was a way to bring together everything we talked about. 

From the very beginning, I knew that I wanted to do my video on Erick, who is a police officer here in Whitehall.

What inspired you to focus on Erick?

Part of my job here is to tell great stories about what’s happening in our community. I’m always on the prowl for unique and interesting ideas.

Erick is a 15-year veteran of our police department who has been in the process of getting his yoga instructor certification. I thought it was the coolest thing. As I got to know him, it was really neat to see how the things he learned—not only about his body but his way of thinking—from yoga really influenced his policing. And while I hadn’t really done anything from the work end about it, I really wanted to be able to utilize this assignment.

My goal is that for any of these really big projects—anything that I’m producing—is to make them be work related. Work is helping to contribute to my graduate degree, and I want to be able to use my skills and show them off. I wanted to showcase Erick to our community.

Tell me about the tools you used to produce the video.

Prior to my start in the program, my husband thought it was a great excuse for us to invest in some new camera equipment. So we got a new digital camera, tripod, lavalier and shotgun microphones—all of which I used to produce this video. And then I edited via Adobe Premiere Pro.

Did you have these skills prior to enrolling in the class?

No. Like everyone else, I have shot video on my iPhone, but nothing like this. Even having worked at a television station, prior to this job, I did a lot of video cutting, but not really ever video editing. This class taught me everything I know now—plus how to find the information I need when I don’t know how to do something.

What were some of your key takeaways?

I learned to think more visually, in terms of shots and angles. I think one of the biggest things I learned, too, is the importance of sound. Sound became the most interesting and hardest part of this project. I also learned the importance of staying organized. In the end, I had 101 clips of video incorporated into this 3-minute piece. With that much content you have to make sure that you are very organized so you don’t lose anything.

What were some of the outcomes?

My professor encouraged me to share it on my community’s Facebook page. So I went through the proper chain of command—I showed it to the mayor, both of our police chiefs and deputy police chiefs, etc. I was pretty deliberate in that I strategically posted the video at a time that seems to be our biggest traffic time.

And it did very well right off the bat—it’s gotten 132 shares, which are most important to me. Within a week we’ve gotten more than 10,000 views. It’s been picked up by a number of police organizations that are really interested in that content, giving us some national exposure. And of course, it’s being shared in the community.

Not to mention, in this day and age, so much commentary about police officers can be pretty negative, so I thought this video might combat that by offering a different perspective.



Some of the Facebook comments to Gail’s video

Read the text-only version.


What’s next? Are you going to continue incorporating what you learn into your work?

Absolutely. Right now I’m taking Digital Communications Systems and last night I was reading about Facebook advertising and search advertising. While I was studying, I took a timeout to make sure that our Facebook settings were aligned with what they recommended. I think each and every piece of information I’m learning is relevant in my day-to-day professional life.