Monday, June 26, 2006

Crossmedia journalism (6)


The discussion on Jaap Stronks’ presentation is going on at several Dutch blogs. Jaap has given some extra explanation (the reactions for those reading Dutch). He writes (my translation - JB): I am critical about the way in which communication and meaning construction are conceptualised as processes which take place at a higher abstraction level than on that of the media, within which they factually take place. In this way it is neglected that every medium create its own cultural environment.
In the journalistic practice it boils down to the point that media vehicles are considered as delivery systems for messages, which only need cosmetic adaptation in order to be re-used. Result is that newspaper articles on internet contain the same tone of voice as articles in the newspapers and the reader will be addressed in the same manner, while that tone of voice has developed itself in a social context , in which a large part of the population should be counted to the target group and competition was scarce. That distant, neutral tone of voice comes from that situation. In my opinion, the crossmedial theory does no tat all take into account the cultural characteristics of every medium. According to me, it is a marketing term, dreamed up by managers of media conglomerates, which like to crank up growth figures and note that they loose grip on a differentiated and fragmented market. The result is a manner of thinking, which starts from a paper oriented efficient synthesis of various media. There are some suppositions: consumers take a customised media diet (a subscriber consumes on one day the printed newspaper, rss-feeds, podcasts, a printable afternoon sheet; that journalists can multitask, that journalistic content is re-usable for other media and that creating a large volume of readers leads to amore efficient advertisement acquisition…I think that crossmedia is an interesting concept for marketing campaigns, which in a new and original way will reach the audience, but is wrong as a leading strategy for a journalistic organisation.

I like the fact that Jaap addresses more levels about crossmedia. To me, he indicates clearly that it is not just repurposing a story for more media. I like to take the example of Big Brother. This TV format uses various vehicles such as television, internet television, interactive television, SMS and IVR as well as print. In all cases there is no question of re-purposing. The various media support the basic central theme, but from their own characteristics.

In 2003 I wrote an article on crossmedia, which was later published in the book E-Content: Technologies and Perspectives for the European Market (Springer): Although there is no straight forward definition of the term cross-media, it can best be described by five criteria:
• Cross-media involves more than one medium, ranging from analogue to digital media or digital media only, which all support each other with their specific strengths;
• Cross-media aims at an integrated production;
• Cross-media content is delivered/accessible on a range of devices such as PCs, mobiles, TV sets or set-top boxes;
• The use of more than one medium needs to support one theme/story/ purpose/ goal/ message, depending on the type of project;
• Cross-media does not just exist by the juxtaposition of different devices and platforms, but finds its relevance when the common message/story/goal is spread on different platforms, and when the supporting interaction takes place on these different platforms.

Essential to the concept of cross-media is that there are more than one media/distribution devices involved, which support the central theme of the project with their own strengths.

Looking back at the conference I have drawn some conclusions:

1. There is a tension between traditional journalism and crossmedia. On the one hand crossmedia is negated as being a fiction of marketing people. On the other hand a fusion is sought between new journalism and crossmedia.
2. Newspapers and broadcast are more concerned with citizens' journalism than with crossmedia.
3. Crossmedia is not just re-purposing content or creating material once producing it many times. Essential to crossmedia are the central theme and the supporting functions by the different media characteristics.
4. It is clear that crossmedia is a container concept. In fact, it is a re-balancing and integration of the mix of analogue and digital media.
5. So far only a few television and internet game formats have proven. New journalistic formats can be developed accordingly.

Tags: crossmedia,

Blog Posting Number: 422

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