Media convergence is the dissemination of content across various platforms of media. According to Jenkins, it is an “ongoing process, occurring at various intersections of media technologies, industries, content and audiences.
A great example of media convergence is the online news site, The Huffington Post. More specifically, at the top of the news story is Newt Gingrich’s battle in the Republican primaries that is transmitted across various media platforms. The news story contains a lengthy article, a video on the same story, opportunities to share the story across all of the available social media platforms, a twitter feed of thousands of users commenting on Gingrich (#Gingrich/ @Gingrich), and section that allows readers to read similar stories on Gingrich across other news channels like the LA Times, NY Times, and CNN.
This Gingrich story is also a great example of social convergence. “Media convergence fosters a new participatory folk culture by giving average people the tools to archive, annotate, appropriate and recirculate content,” according to Jenkins. Below the story is a section where readers can contribute to the news content itself by uploading their own photos, videos, comments and even add corrections to the article itself. A decade ago, news was solely a linear conversation between journalists and readers. Today, journalists and readers are partaking in constant communication. The public today not only reads the news but also contributes to the news content that allows the public to see the whole story and not just a single view of the story.
Social convergence allows readers to share news across various platforms with their own personal community while disseminating the story across various channels. Today, with the onslaught of media convergence, people don’t depend on just one channel to gain their news. They depend on a number of reporters, a number of news channels and on their friends to disseminate the news and get to the bottom of a story.
Sometimes the best way to getting the story across and impacting the public is through emotion. The LA Times Photography section is a prime example of this. This multimedia section contains a breadth of community stories told through the eyes of the victims with photography, video, sound bytes, and news articles.
Photography, video and sound bytes contain the heart of the story while accompanied articles give more background and details that may be missing from the story. Multimedia journalism allows for readers to disseminate a story through the point of view of the writer and the point of view of the subject.
A particularly powerful piece is the story on Prison Hospice: Life and Death. This is a story narrated by an inmate who is suffering from cancer. He tells the story of his own illness, the story of others and how he continues to have faith in his situation. So much emotion and compassion is evoked through the multimedia slide with powerful pictures and narration. A story from the perspective of an inmate hardly has a voice in regular news, but through multimedia journalism, it becomes a voice to be heard.
By Cristina Szewczyk