The revolution that never happened

When the online convergence began, newspapers were faced with a difficult task of creating a strategy that would allow their paper to work successfully online.

Online strategies from newspapers in Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Liverpool were revealed in a study, carried out by Cardiff Trinity University. From their findings, three problems consistently arose within the newsroom:

Too much work

Because of…

Lack of time

Because of…

Shrinking workforce

All of which, stem from the same problem of lack of money.

As suggested by Steen Steenson in his blog, technology ‘might not be the main driving force behind changes in journalism’. He argues that newspapers are just publishing the same written text, only they are doing it online, and that interactivity, multimedia and hyperlinking is still rare. I agree that many other aspects are having an influence on changes in journalism, including money, time, and skills. However, large news websites are flooded with multimedia. So whether he is only accounting for local news websites, or he believes the changes have happened so slowly that they cannot be revolutionary, is open to interpretation.

Screen shot of the Guardian’s website, filled with multimedia videos, hyperlinks and interactivity

Newspapers could converge efficiently if they had the money to provide training in online journalism, recruit a sufficient amount of journalists to support the work load and combat the unofficial expectation for workers to exceed contracted hours.

Technology may be causing problems for print, but it is also providing a platform on which journalism as a whole can develop and excel.

Television is a prime example of medium that has been welcomed into journalism. As discussed by Steenson, TV took off much quicker (8 years in US), compared with the internet, which took more than double this time.

But I don’t believe this happened because the internet is less revolutionary. Television is a very straight forward concept, especially when it was first available; it had four channels and you could watch programmes on it. Whereas, the internet…how exactly do you explain internet to a novice? The internet provides is a tool that gives you the ability to do and learn so much, it can be intimidating for many people – especially those who have not been brought up using it.

In contrast to this, radio has been largely unaffected throughout the online revolution:

“Who would have thought in the 1950s and 1960s that radio would still be a powerful technological platform several decades later? Imagine the argument: who would want only sound, when you could have both sound and vision?” Steen Steenson.

Is this because we as receivers do not always wish to be fully immersed in journalism? If so, can the same be said for journalists themselves?

The high demand for copy on now multiplatform journalism, forcing many journalists to work over-time for no extra pay, were amoung the main findings in Cardiff Trinity’s study. Being fully immersed in online newspapers that are active 24/7  proved overwhelming for many journalists who were struggling to switch off.

As with all forms of creativity, it helps to take a step back and let the work (and the journalist) breathe. It is only when you have time to research the facts that high quality work can be created. No-one has the ability to compete with the internet that never sleeps, so why are we trying to?

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