Exploring the Many Worlds of Transmedia

Transmedia Journalism

Transmedia Journalism

By on Oct 6, 2013 in Featured |

Reading traditional newspapers seems to be really old fashioned.
Since news could reach us on our mobile phone many things have changed.
News has followed a pattern from paper to tablet, from words to images and video, from simply reading the news to be part of their creation. The old traditional paper media is not enough anymore, we need many platforms to feel informed.


What is really new in what I’d like to define as Transmedia Journalism?

According to the Nieman Lab, the “Drudge Report” was the first online journal to have real success. It was 1998 and Matt Drudge, its founder,had the courage to publish an article about what would have become the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The “Newsweek” waited too much and lost its opportunity. Online beat paper for the first time: Speed is one of our key words.

What about “The Huffington Post”?

HuffPost was born in 2005 thanks to Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer and Jonah Peretti. it is described as “one part social network, one part news content site” by the CEO Eric Hippeau. Networking and Interactivity are the basis of this online news aggregator as confirm Micheal Shapiro in his interesting article about the HuffPost.

So far we have some elements that seem to distinguish transmedia journalism: Speed, Networking and Interactivity.

There are so many news coming from different media: newspapers, television, and the Internet. We can’t follow everything, there is an information overload so how could we find and select what is really interesting for us? Jonathan Stray in his article “Who should see what when? Three principles for personalized news” explains that every person has unique interests, is uniquely affected by larger events and has a unique capacity to act. So we should read a news story if it interests us, if we are affected by it, and if we are able to do something for it.

Customized or Personalized Journalism has been created to help people find what they want through the enormous amount of information they have. But what is Customized Journalism? According to Matt Schlicht it is “a service that passively delivers and recommends prioritized content to the user based on their ever changing interest and social graph.” It seems that the right combination of human curator, automated filter services and social media filtering could be really helpful. An example? Zite.

“Tell Zite your interest and  let it do the rest. Stop searching and get only what you care about. Zite delivers the best of your favorite magazines, newspapers, authors, blogs, and videos.” This is the meaningful claim that you can read on Zite website. Zite is a free IOS and Android application that allows the user to choose the categories of news he wants to receive. News come from both online journals and blogs and the user can share them in his or her social network. The user can also rate the different source and decide if receive more information from them or not. Articles are enriched with images, video and link to similar news. Thanks to this kind of applications you can give Feedback and Share Customized news. Three new key words for us.

January 2011, Egyptian revolution, Twitter. What do these words recall to you? Maybe Citizen Journalism. Thanks to innovation many people are not only part of the audience but contribute to create information. Some events or facts are completely unexpected, and professional journalist can’t be always everywhere. So people thanks to an Internet connection began to help journalists sending information about what was happening close to them. In Egypt information was mostly censored then people started to tweet from Tharir Square to inform the world about their situation. Normal citizens became not only witnesses but journalists too thanks to their Participation.


“What if we click on the same link that, in theory, leads to the same article but end up reading very different texts?” This could be the next challenge for automated journalism as Evgeny Morozov presents in his article. Let’s start from the beginning: automated journalism is based on an artificial intelligent platform that transforms data into stories and insights. “Forbes” hired Narrative Science as automated journalism software and it seems to work, articles are not a mash up of data and statistics. Narrative Science is still working on its feature, but it worked for the presidential campaign in 2012 too when also social networks were used to gain information. What Morozov hypothesizes is an highly customized kind of journalism. As you choose to read a news you would be lead to a tailored article from a software that knows everything about you. This prospective is not as far as it seems.

We shouldn’t forget that nowadays all traditional newspapers own their online website which is always update to the more recent news. These websites offer different content from their paper brothers. Multimedia is another keyword: there are a lot of images, video, interviews, and a lot of space. Newspapers have a limited amount of space, article can’t be too long while the Internet permits to enlarge everything and to link everything.

We have seen many new form of journalism with different and interesting characteristics. They use technology and different platform, and they can be combined. Now, imagine to look for information about something has happened in your city: you can buy a newspaper and read the insights from a professional journalist with some comments too or switch on your television, but if you’re not satisfied you can digit a key word on Google and find a lot of blogs from citizen journalists or read another article from a different newspaper website. If you are still not happy with you’re research you can always check you’re Twitter news feed, maybe someone that you are following has witnessed the fact. But maybe you have received everything you need and want to know thanks to your customized mobile application.

I think that now it’s easy to understand my definition of Transmedia Journalism: different platforms, different media, different ways to tell the same story. You don’t need to choose one, you can combine them and obtain a better and more complete view of things.


[The image above is by Steve Garfield]