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The challenges of training studentjournalists in an era of new mediaconvergenceDr. Carolina MatosGovernment Department, University of Essex
Key points• “Old” versus “new” media• What is meant by “media convergence”?• Changes in the nature of media industries and in thejournalism profession• Challenges faced by senior journalists and professorsalike (resistance versus hype)• New media and democracy• Role of journalists in the new media convergence era• Growth in new media courses, research and theintegration of the journalism curriculum
“Old” versus “new” media• Old versus new media – modern versus postmodern• Information overload, multiple sources ofinformation, no longer one “single” truth (old media)• “Passive” versus “active” audience: interactivity andparticipatory journalism• Crisis of the “objectivity” regime in the mainstreammedia, pressures on the journalism profession• Growth of multiple journalism narratives co-existing– i.e. citizen journalism; community journalism;public journalism; participatory journalism, etc.• Cooperation and competition: old and new mediaco-exist
New era of media convergence• Communication pressure = Volume X Speedof circulation X Density• “Within this growing flow of information, thepart played by journalistic products willdecrease proportionately, the assumptionbeing that the ‘communication pressure’ itcreates reduces both journalism’s scope andthe citizen’s accessibility.” (Bardoel, 1996,380)
Challenges for journalists and professors• How is new media affecting the journalism profession?• As technologies became more complex from the 1980’s, thetask of investigating and producing news demands anincrease in not only the skills required of a reporter, but in thespeed of publication in the frenetic pace of writinginstantaneously for a 24 hours news cycle• Limits of interactivity and of the “active audience”• Limits of digital democracy and networked politics• As Tarcia and Marinho (2008) state, media entrepreneursrepresented in the World Association of Newspapers (WAN)evaluated the phenomena of multimedia newsrooms andhighlighted: this is about cost reduction, productivity andexpansion of markets.
The future role for journalists• Critics have argued that media companies of thefuture will require fewer staff, especially in amoment of decline of circulations, decrease ofadvertising alongside the need to pursue furtherinvestments in new technologies in order to continueto be competitive.• Bardoel (1996) says, in this densely packed spacewith information overload, journalists will (andshould) take the lead in directing and definingdebate.• “Journalism will not, as in the era of the mass media,control public debate, but it will take the lead indirecting and defining it” (Bardoel, 1996; 387 inMatos, 2008).
Challenges for journalists and professors• Bhuiyan has listed some of the main challenges thatprofessors face when it comes to teaching about mediaconvergence:• 1) Lack of institutional commitment, skills and resources – thisrefers to the financial constraints of faculty when attemptingto upgrade the multimedia teaching laboratories, andfunding;• 2) Fear and resistance to change – the fears that is oftenshared by students and veteran professors regarding studyingand practice of cross-platform journalism, and the anxietythat new technologies will dilute good reporting;• 3) Changing curricula to reflect the industry demand – theinnovative ways of implementing a multimedia curriculum.
Challenges of this current reality• Salaverria (2011, 138) in Online Journalism meets theuniversity: ideas for teaching and research has affirmed thatthis new reality “calls for a kind of research and training of itsown• “…this new variant has compelled teachers to explore newlinguistic possibilities, to keep track of continuously evolvingtechnologies, to identify professional profiles and renewededitorial processes….”.• Problems with terminology: is it “online journalism”; “digitaljournalism”; electronic journalism”; multimedia journalism”;“web-journalism” or “cyber-journalism”?
What is media convergence?• A buzzword, overused (i.e. likeglobalization)• Resistance of senior staff/ teachers• Journalism on the Internet has been “lookeddown on” by newspaperjournalists/professors• Instead of an “end to journalism”, this couldsignal a new era• Changing times: Huffington Post won thePulitzer Prize (also Politico and NYT, two)
Media convergence• Term “convergence” became popular in the late 1970’s dueto Nicholas Negroponte, who used it to define thecommunication overlap of 3 separate industries – thebroadcast industry, the print and the computer (Fidler, 1997).• Henry Jenkins (2001) defines media convergence by breakingit into 5 distinct types or processes: technological, organic (orsocial), economic, cultural and global.• Technological convergence - “….the digitalization of thecontents of all media…”; Economic convergence – is “thehorizontal integration in the entertainment industry(synergy); social or organic – consumers navigating throughthis environment; cultural – intersection of various mediatechnologies and global – international circulation of media.
Future role for newspapers in the digital age• Newspapers have had to adapt to newtechnologies and not attempt to competewith them –• The Guardian (26/11/07) publishedinformation on the use of news sites in the UKstating that it remained the UK’s leadingnewspaper online. It showed that 18.4 millionpeople used Guardian Unlimited in October;• The Telegraph had 11.1 million users whileThe Times, with 12.4 million, was overtakenby The Mail, with 13.5 million
New Media courses and research• Growth of interest in new media courses and research• Importance of introducing new media into the universitycurriculum without sacrificing the basics of good writing,critical thinking and journalistic values and ethics.• Universities throughout the world are having to deal with thechallenge of adapting their curriculum to the digital era• I.e. UC Berkeley School of Journalism took on a more lightapproach to convergence, switching from teaching onlinepublishing to multimedia reporting as the main focus of theirnew media curriculum (“A converged curriculum: One school’shard won lessons”).
The training of student journalists: skills and goals• News organizations want journalists prepared for themultimedia environment, but most of all they wantjournalists with good writing and analytical skills,critical thinking and news skills (most technologytraining is still ‘on the job’).• Students should be trained to deliver messages tomultiple audiences across platforms (print, broadcastand online).• However, multimedia journalists are still rare• There is room for both “old” and “new journalists”(the more specialised type, the one that ‘does it all’)
The training of student journalists: skills and goals• Scott Sheerin quotes Karen Turner, professor in theSchool of Communication and Theatre at TempleUniversity, has underlined 3 keys points:• 1) Students need to understand the various theoriesabout mass communication;• 2) They must obtain a diverse skill set and• 3) Due to the changing role of the journalist asgatekeeper, he/she must interact more with thepublic.
Journalist’s toolbox: global reporting tools• International Journalist’sNetwork• International Centre forJournalists• The Globalist• Society of Editors• Global Beat• Committee to ProtectJournalists• International Press Institute• UK Journalism• World Press Institute• European Journalism Centre• University of Texas LatinAmerica Journalism Page• UT Latin American Network:Journalism in Latin America• Journalism UK Internationallinks• Newsdirectory.com• Newslink.org
Questions for discussion• What are the benefits and limits of new media incomparison to the old?• What are some of the ways of keeping up with thechanges in the media environment?• How should future student journalists think aboutthe journalism profession? Will the professionchange in the next five to ten years?• What role can the new media play in advancingdemocracy and wider civic engagement?
Conclusions and future challenges• Seek balance between the theory and the practice,• Incorporate technology, not have resistance to it, but not letit overwhelm the curriculum, making the study ofcommunications and journalism values and theory lessrelevant.• Focus on journalism values; the sociology of news; history ofjournalism and international journalism; mass communicationresearch; reporting and investigative journalism, etc.• * Salaverria (2011) has been critical of the emphasis on the“technical” aspect. Technologies evolve quickly, so it is not anissue of simply teaching how to use computer programmes.Goal should be that students learn to practice qualityjournalism in any medium, including the digital.
Selected bibliography• Bardoel, Jo (1996) “Beyond Journalism: A Profession Between InformationSociety and Civil Society” in Tumber, Howard (ed.) News: a reader,Oxford: Oxford University Press• Barnett, S. and Gaber, I. (2001) “The crisis in political journalism: anoutline of the argument” in The Westminster Tales: The Twenty-FirstCentury Crisis in British Political Journalism, London: Continuum, 1-11• Bell, Emily (2012) “Huffington Post’s Pultizer prize win marks a turningpoint for journalism” in The Guardian (22/04/12)• Bhuiyan, Serajul I. (2010) “Teaching media convergence and itschallenges” in Asia Pacific Media Educator, Issue n. 20• Karam, Francisco J.C. (2009) “Journalism in the age of the informationsociety, technological convergence, and editorial segmentation” inJournalism: theory, practice and criticism, London: Sage, vol. 10. n. 1• Kawamoto, Kevin (2003) “Digital Journalism: Emerging Media and theChanging Horizons of Journalism” in Digital Journalism, Maryland:Rowman and Littlefield
Bibliography continued• Matos, C. (2012) “Mass media” in Wiley-Blackwell’s Encyclopedia ofGlobalization, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell• ---------, C. (2008, 2009) “Partisanship versus professionalism: the role ofthe journalist in the democratization process” in Journalism and politicaldemocracy in Brazil, Maryland: Lexington Books• Pryor, Larry (2005) “A converged curriculum: One school’s hard-wonlessons” in OJR: the Online Journalism Review (www.ojr.org/ojr/stories/050224pryor/)• Salaverria, Ramon (2011) “Online journalism meets the university: ideasfor teaching and research” in Brazilian Journalism Research, vol. 7., n. 2• Scott Sheerin, M. (2002) “Media convergence: how are we preparingstudents of journalism and mass communication to deal with it”,Dynamics of Convergent Media academic conference at USC• Tarcia, Lorena and Marinho, Simao Pedro (2008) “Challenges and NewWays of Teaching Journalism in Times of Media Convergence” in BrazilianJournalism Research, vol. 4., n. 2, semester 2, 25-53