Sunday, September 28, 2008

Future media

About a week ago Bob Guccione, Jr. wrote an article in the Huffington Post predicting the future of media. Based on his experience he made four predictions.

The article writes:
1) Within two years, a major city daily will transform itself into a free paper. Home delivery will still require a paid subscription. The Sunday paper will continue to be sold and will morph into a hybrid of the best of a pleasurable Sunday-paper reading experience and a week-long events resource.

2) A cable channel will pass one or more of the Big Four broadcast networks in total viewership, chiefly because it makes better programs.

3) Google will lose significant market share, because viable competitors will create as good or better search engines and incentivize people to use them.

4) The Internet will not consume print, because it's not strong enough, it's not better, and it's too busy consuming itself.

I think the way technology is blending with traditional media there is a chance of dailies becoming free. The print media especially newspapers are extremely challenged by the new media. News on the go is becoming an increasing part of our lives. We no longer have to wait for the morning newspaper.

The print media is left with two choices – reform or downsize. Like Guccione mentioned at the end of the article, “The amount of choice will greatly raise the bar of quality and performance for competing media.”

About the Internet not consuming print, I think experts and researchers are still trying to figure out whether new media depends on traditional media or the other way round. But there seems to be a fair amount of control by bloggers making an uninhibited and free platform for themselves. Yet people like me who still believe and follow traditional media, will continue to subscribe. But I can't speak for millions.

Internet is experiencing and continues to go through a constant state of change and innovation. There is a strong likelihood of Google being replaced by bigger and better competitors. But competitors will need powerful tools to allure people because some habits are hard to break. And we have been googling away for years now.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Some award-winning students

The Online News Association announced its 2008 awards and the two winners happen to be journalism students. The work is exceptional and worthy of the award. And the amazing thing is that there is no recognizable difference between these two works and documentary/multimedia projects created by professionals.

Students of Universidad de los Andes created South of Here, a documentary multimedia project exploring lives of the people and communities residing in Argentina and Chile. On the face of it, the places are extremely beautiful and in the arms of nature but the locals are facing the harsh weather and unpredictable surroundings. Most natives have been away from civilization dealing with their existence. Yet the sense of tradition, sacrifice and warmth towards family and community. This is very evident in Last of the Yagánes and Family Matriarch.

With multiple dynamics and locations involved the students have done their leg work. It’s a very emotional compilation of humans settling in seclusion. Each of the 14 pieces compiled for the site tell a different story in a different style. The story telling is very compelling and at the same time there is an interesting combination of multimedia used to join each feature.

In some features there is a direct use of the native language supported with subtitles and that itself has helped in building the character. In other places there are voice artists speaking in the words of the characters. Overall the project looks like a feature film made with great time and effort.

The second winner, Closer to Home: A Daughter Becomes Caregiver by UNC-Chapel Hill is another documentary about a 55 year-old daughter (Elinor Salsman) trying to manage her home, husband and children and take care of her 90 something parents. The film gives a good insight on people taking care of aged parents (with the mother suffering from dementia) and though there is love and bonding, it still is a difficult commitment to manage two households.

The story telling is effortless. The creators have spent time in knowing their subjects showing key details of Salsman’s life and her struggle keeping up with everything. The film leaves you feeling for both Salsman and her parents. Though the parents have a big role in the film and the camera follows them through their daily activities there is very little communication from their side. With almost no interviews or dialogues from their side the spirit and communication between the couple and with their daughter has come through beautifully.

The film making and techniques are much simpler than South of Here. Both websites have made a wise choice of the use of multimedia elements like video, photography, natural sound and graphics and animation. As a student journalist it is very inspiring to watch work like this by other students.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

NYU Student Writes…

Mediashift, a weblog that tracks down popular and trend setting work from new media has posted a blog by, Alana Taylor, an NYU student. Taylor, an undergraduate journalism student gives an insider view into what she is dealing with.

In her class of 16, Taylor feels singled out. Just like any other Internet user she has embraced new media, but has a deeper involvement than her peers. She maintains her blog, uses twitter and also assists the social media department of a family programming company.

Taylor was hoping to use and enhance that knowledge in her NYU class. But her professor hasn’t reached the extremely web-savvy status. Infact the professor is still very far behind in the new media race.

The professor stresses that blog writing is not journalism. Taylor’s quotes, “What is so fascinating about the move from print to digital is the freedom to be your own publisher, editor, marketer, and brand. But, surprisingly, NYU does not offer the kinds of classes I want. It continues to focus its core requirements around learning how to work your way up the traditional journalism ladder.”

Taylor points out that there is a sense of struggle and rigidity involved for traditional journalists, like her professor, to make that shift into new media. It is the digital age and one cannot ignore that there is a parallel platform for writers and non-writers to make their presence felt.

As a journalism student, I find myself between a Taylor and her professor. I have a facebook account and blog but still the idea to be so out there and easily accessible to the world frightens me. I understand the importance of new media and its growing popularity but I do feel bad for declining popularity of newspapers.

Inspite of Taylor’s extensive mention on her professor’s closed mindedness towards new media, she deeply respects her as a writer. Here’s where Taylor needs to take a moment and think that you need strong journalistic training and experience to earn that name. Though Taylor has a better place in my multimedia class.

As channels for new and old media grow, it is getting more and more obvious that each medium (whether a blog or feature for a magazine) needs different set of writing skills. Each medium needs individual attention to training.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Podcasts are gaining popularity

This is Ruchi Naresh reporting for my blog coolwebeverywhere. Internet users are increasingly time-shifting their media consumption by downloading podcasts. Last week the Guardian UK wrote a story based on research by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The research says 19% of Internet users download podcasts to listen or view at a later date.

A similar study in August 2006 found that just 12% of Internet users had done this. A popular podcast directory suggests that the demand for podcasts has grown from 26000 to 43000 podcasts in last two years.

This gives journalists more opportunities to display creativity in podcasting. New multimedia streams are giving journalists more ways to communicate with the user. At the same time the user has a choice to watch and listen to his favorite programs at his convenient place and time.

Podcasting gives an advantage of not being confined to program timings and schedules.

Teaching is also evolving with technology. The Pew research says, “Some professors are experimenting with podcasts in other ways. They are producing their own podcasts or having their students respond to readings and lessons by creating podcasts rather than traditional papers.”

The research gives a good indication on the demographics. Young adults aged between 18 and 29 are the age group most likely to own MP3 players, with 61% owning gadgets of this kind. This just shows that concise writing formats and scripts have a responsibility to communicate more in less time.

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Friday, September 5, 2008