Thursday, November 28, 2013

Convergence Journalism: a Look at the Future

by Kristine Villanueva

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The future of journalism and the future of convergence go hand in hand. Journalism will become more technologically based. Newspapers and other print media will continue on several different platforms and mediums. Print companies will not only utilize social media, but will also produce more videos. Therefore, the word "convergence" may be obsolete in coming years - it will become the norm.

Transmedia storytelling is a prime example of how media is moving forward in convergence culture. Although used mostly as marketing schemes, journalists will also harvest the potential of transmedia storytelling to better a reader's experience of news consumption. Whether advertising agencies like Droga5 will engage audiences to read the New York Times (which will exist on the web), or print companies will publish stories on several different platforms, transmedia will not be a dying art . Henry Jenkins agrees in that transmedia is more than a marketing ploy. He writes on Fast Company, that it is a myth to be debunked.

He says, "yes, many early transmedia experiments were funded through marketing budgets. Transmedia has been closely linked to the industry's new focus on "audience engagement" and sometimes uses "viral" (or "spreadable") media strategies. But, the best transmedia is driven by a creative impulse. Transmedia allows gifted storytellers to expand their canvas and share more of their vision with their most dedicated fans."

The future of journalism and media will rely heavily on welding creativity and storytelling. I believe that since society has become image oriented, creativity will be placed on visual appeal and aesthetics that will enhance journalistic storytelling. But the future of convergence affects more than just journalism. 

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During her Ted Talk presentation, Jane McGonigal said, "three thousand hours of game play is not nearly enough to solves the world's problems." McGonigal believes that by learning how to solve problems in games, people will be able to do the same in real life. Interestingly enough, McGonigal's theory also overlaps in transmedia. In Fast Company Jenkins also tries to debunk the notion that transmedia only pertains to gaming. 

He says, "The rise of alternate reality games coupled with mass media properties is part of what's generating excitement here. Transmedia properties combine cultural attractors (which draw together a highly invested audience) and cultural activators (which gives that audience something to do). Games are a good way to give your fans something to do, but they are by no means the only model out there." 

Although McGonigal would say that gaming means much more than interaction, Jenkins is also correct in saying that it's an aspect about gaming that people enjoy. Likewise, journalists of the future must also learn how to harvest interactive techniques to keep their audience engaged. Many movies, books, games, and TV shows have done this already. I believe news can also become interactive, especially with social media and the internet as a primary tool. 

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I think I can dive into the future of journalism by mixing informational "vegetables" with informational "desert". I agree with Steven Johnson's Sleeper Curve theory in that, people learn even when they're unaware. By making hard news interesting, either through writing, visuals, or humor, people will continue to be educated. 

The future of convergence is still uncertain. However, in a vast and ever changing mediascape, the only way to shape the future is through innovation and creativity. 

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