Monday, February 6, 2012

Media Convergence vs. Multimedia Journalism

Media Convergence

It’s no news that people gather around the TV every Super Bowl Sunday not just to watch two teams vie for the title, but to witness the debut of the country’s latest and most provocative ad campaigns.  One of the more notable ads of the season is sparking political debate and appearing across a variety of media outlets. Chrysler’s, “It’s Halftime in America” ad depicts Clint Eastwood giving a pep-talk to America amid images of the Chrysler factory and middle class families of Detroit. The underlying message touches on the recent billion dollar Chrysler bailout, Detroit’s economic plight, and hot-button issues of Obama’s reelection campaign.

The Huffington Post gathered information from multiple news sources in a story that described Eastwood’s declaration that he “is not politically affiliated with Obama,” which he personally stated in an appearance on a different media platform, Fox New’s “The O’Reilly Factor”.  The Huffington Post is another example of media convergence because it’s a sight that gathers information across all media platforms in an effort to make information dissemination as quick and convenient as possible.

This story serves as an example of media convergence not only because it is being reported through all types of media platforms, but because it in itself is a type of media.  It disseminates a message to the public, becoming what the textbook describes as “storytelling or presentation convergence,” in which “new forms of storytelling... emerge from the combination of computers, portable newsgathering devices, and the interactive potential of Web and television” (Quinn 6).  The commercial presents a controversial news story, and media platforms converge across the spectrum to disseminate further information about the topic to the public.

Multimedia Journalism

As one of the world’s most reliable news outlets, The New York Times has examples of multimedia journalism stories in almost every one of their publications. A unique feature story on their website by Melissa Faye Greene depicts the story of disability dogs and their influence on the lives of not just the blind, but those who struggle with other rare and impairing diseases that can be eased with the companionship of a well-trained canine.  The feature story’s many components include highlighting the nonprofit 4 Paws for Ability created by Karen Shirk, a woman struggling to live with muscular dystrophy. Her belief that dogs can help children living with disabilities led to the creation of her organization, which has helped countless children better adapt to life with disabilities since its beginning in 1998.

The multimedia aspect of the story includes a video by Erik Olsen, which gives more background and visual connection to 4 Paws for ability by showing the audience the various tasks the dogs are trained to provide to their owners.  There are also photos of children connecting with the dogs they’ve received dogs from the organization. Additionally, online NY Times articles have comment sections and links to share articles over email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

The multimedia components of journalism serve to better bring stories to life and allow for a more widespread audience then previously possible.  As senior vice president of the Tribune Company Howard Tyner says, “’journalism is about ‘eyeballs’-getting as many people as possible to look at media products.’” While the print story was beautifully written, if it were not combined with the video and photographs, it might not have been as effective in grasping the audience’s ‘eyeballs’ and attention.

By Sofia Yassine

1 comment:

  1. The Eastwood example is interesting, as it incorporates multiple elements of convergence. As you note, the original television commercial took on a second life on other media platforms.

    And the 4 Paws feature is an excellent example of capitalizing on the strengths of various media platforms.