Redefining Multimedia

Topics: New media, Multimedia, Electronic media Pages: 12 (4468 words) Published: February 28, 2013
Redefining Multimedia. The (Dis)Integrated Use of Multiple Media and Modalities in Convergent Journalism Abstract The combination and integration of multiple presentation formats like text, video, pictures and sounds is defined as multimedia. Together with other buzzwords like interactivity and hypertext, multimedia is one of the most studied online features in contemporary journalism studies. However, the concept of multimedia is too ambiguous to analyze contemporary journalism in an adequate manner. In this paper, we discuss the current definitions of multimedia and propose that multimodality, a concept used in linguistics and semiotics, better describes the integrated use of different forms of presentation. We make a distinction between the two concepts and demonstrate the complexity of online news realities where multiple modalities and multiple media are integrated or disintegrated. Based on a multimodal and multimedia analysis of an online news story, we illustrate the differences between modalities and media. We incite to take this difference into account when doing further research on online news. Eespecially when making the distinction between old and new media, formal and structural features are discussed. Scholars like Rafaeli (1988), Dahlgren (1996), Manovich (2001), Paulussen (2002), Deuze (2003) en Beyers (2006) describe online media based on main characteristics like modularity, digitalism, synchronism, automation, speed, etc. Three features mostly reoccur: multimedia, interactivity and hypertext. Moreover, these features are used when defining online journalism (see e.g. Deuze, 2001; Franklin, 2005) so that we can consider them as essential features of online news. Multimedia has become a buzzword thanks to the success of the internet and digital applications. Indeed, it is thanks to the digitization that an exceeding convergence between different media formats is possible. However, also non-digital media can combine different formats and sensory channels. Connolly and Phillips (2002, 169) state that also television (image and sounds), an oral presentation (voice and gestures) and even text set to music can be studied as multimedia given that they combine different media formats. It would be pointless to consider an audiovisual coverage on the internet as multimedia while the same coverage on the television screen is considered as non-multimedia or even as mono-media. The same is true in the case of an encyclopedia: where the combination of text and pictures online is called multimedia, few would consider a print encyclopedia as an example of multimedia, yet both applications are made up of the same sign system. Gambier and Gottlieb (2001) argue that in contemporary communication all channels are making use of different sensory systems and modes of communication and thus that all texts and messages are polysemiotic, not only the digital ones. They conclude that some kind of confusion between media (such as television and computer) and codes (such as verbal and visual codes) exists. Instead of making a distinction between the combined use of media on the one hand and the combined use of sign systems on the other hand, one uses the concept of multimedia for every online application even without questioning whether they are multiple media or multiple sign systems. Also Paulussen (2004) discusses the ambiguity of the concept of multimedia. He states that although web-tv is often labeled as a multimedia application, it is in fact nothing more than traditional television on the internet. Deuze (2001; 2003) uses a pragmatic definition in which he defines multimedia as the combination of multiple media formats and the coordinated delivery of content through different distribution channels. In this approach, multimedia stands for the combination of sign systems as well as the combination of media. If we elaborate on the other definitions of multimedia that are used in media or journalism studies, we must conclude...
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