The changing face of news

by Patrick McPartlin

According to Henry Jenkins’ book Convergence Culture, we are experiencing constantly reforming modes of communication and media content, which are “changing the way we create, consume, learn and interact with each other.”

The exercise that we have undertaken today is a perfect example of converged news in action. Using the main stories in the media – such as Prime Minister David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ speech, the ongoing protests in Egypt and reaction to Sunday night’s BAFTA awards – we sought to include as many elements of converged news as possible, with a focus on audio and visual content that could be used within blog posts and online articles, as well as providing material for podcasts or raw multimedia footage. One of the advantages of converged news is the ability to constantly update reports, and so keeping an eye on breaking news stories through RSS feeds and live rolling news channels such as Sky News and BBC News 24 helped us ensure that the news we were reporting was as up-to-date as possible.

It was important to make sure that there was a wide range of relevant stories, combining current affairs with world news, along with a more local element. The task of determining which stories would be supplemented by audio or visual and how we would source multimedia elements was something that I felt needed to be finalised as early as possible, but with an option for flexibility. That the group researching Cameron’s ‘big society’ speech managed to collect a personal experience from an evacuee from Egypt in the wake of the protests in Tahrir Square is a perfect example of converged news in action, and also served to demonstrate the importance of maintaining flexibility with regards to reporting constantly evolving stories. Additionally, setting strict deadlines for the completion of multimedia content allowed us to ensure that we were able to reach the overall deadline with time to spare for last minute changes.

Overall, today helped us to understand the benefits of converged news, and gain working experience of how our intake of news is constantly changing, and the effect that reforming modes of communication and media content assist in this. In an age where social media such as Twitter and Facebook – as witnessed during the Egyptian protests and the Iranian election in 2009 –  are fast becoming reliable sources of rolling news and a wide variety of opinions, the importance of allowing ourselves a fresh approach to all aspects of the media, especially the creation and consumption of news and the way in which we interact with each other in our case, is paramount.