Sunday, March 30, 2008

Multimedia new for old rope - repurposing or innovation

Alfred Hermida writes from a posting on his site which I have pulled out a section

This fails to recognise that the the Internet is not print, it is not radio, it is not TV. It share some attributes with print and broadcast, but is a medium in its own right, with its own strengths and weaknesses.

This requires a shift in how journalists have approached stories, adopting a multimedia mindset from the get go.

It is time to stop talking about repurposing and instead to start a discussion on how to re-imagine journalism.

In which I responded

Couldn't agree with you more Alfred on your last para.

Part of what amuses me is what might be called the sanctity of journalism.

That everything we need to know about it, is out in the open. That, there are no new paradigms.

At least that's what you could have made of it in the absence of the web and accompanying digital environment.

But now?

The repurposing debate mirrors my thoughts around the use of broadband: a new medium or repository for repeats.

Here's an exercise. If you scan a raft of broadcast news programmes [trad] media will have reported faults related to progress and the web with the medical profession, business, race, society etc, but very, very, rarely introspectively about itself.

Everything's alright in the house.

The explosiveness of race and culture provides an example of the fault lines of repurposing. Does MM news inherently provide added educational value, rather than exclusively reaction/comments to events?

Because if it does, that makes repurposing a wee bit difficult and you could argue more work is required for MM reportage compared with linear.

For instance, the reporting agenda needs to be widened and be more expansive, say, in covering news about the tragic nature of youth stabbings in London.

We'll read about it, watch in on the news, but hitherto we're not seeing much of MM's ability at big issue coverage.

The time, the crime, the preventional schemes, concerted programs, the sharing and pooling of knowledge between groups, what the police are doing down to community level participation and so on.

Meanwhile, you wanna do multimedia, figure out what you want, then fill in a form, shove it in the hands of the graphics department and say something like: "Yeah I want this to go swish and that chira thing you do.."

See, repurposing, and it didn't cost us much.

It may well be "journalism" - the very word itself - negates the sort of vision you imagine, at least at present.

The vested sums/ interests wrapped in the word, the politics/business surrounding it, means wholesale changes aren't possible.

We might blog, believe we've found a tool and fresh semiotic to broaden the news agenda and accompanying discourse, but adopted by many trad media it's funnelled into something that suggest inclusivity, yet how much impact has it on shaping/driving news? Does it almost amount to merely free content on your doorstep?

Videojournalism which I'm passionate about is another example of the repurposing debate. Is it merely about one person taking on a story from the idea stage to completition, replicating the model of TV news?

Or is it about a fresh stanza in story telling and widening the agenda, particularly when produced for the web?

The "journalism" in video almost makes it restrictive, because TV journalism does not court creativity, big "C".

"You wanna do docs or advertising mate if you want to shoot flash stuff", you almost expect to hear.

It was Richard Deverell in his former position before he became the BBC children's controller who said in a
project we were partnering at my Uni:

We haven't figured out anywhere near what to do with the Net with regard to the media... or something like that.

I still agree with him.

Maybe, just maybe, a solution to multimedia reportage exists outside the confines of contemporary journalism.

That perhaps the graphic designer, Flash expert, motion graphics artist, photojournalist, journalist, futurologist, Tech, business major - should all be sitting at one table having a conversation rather than the division of labour that has become so prescriptive.

But then that wouldn't be journalism would it?

Cheers David
Uni Westminster
& Smart Lab

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