As a journalist turned academic, I often received e-mails from publishers with book suggestions. The other day one dropped into my inbox for a textbook called Principles of Convergent Journalism from Oxford University Press.
At first glance, it sounds like an ideal text for teaching students to work across media.
That is, until it talks about “repurposing both print and broadcast content for the internet”. There are two chapters devoted to discussing how to repurpose print and broadcast content for the internet.
Admittedly, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I find the discourse of repurposing content troubling. And this is not the textbook for tomorrow’s journalists that talks about repurposing. Here is an extract from Convergence Journalism by Janet Kolodzy, published in 2006:
Putting a newspaper story on a website or streaming a video report is another easy way to take advantage of convergence. It is like taking a square peg and sanding off the edges to fit into a round hole. Headlines and text are set up and laid out differently on a web page but they are still headlines and text. A video report does not get reshot or rewritten to fit the computer screen; it airs on a different medium but in the same way.
This is the wrong way to conceive of multimedia, multiplatform journalism. The idea of reusing content for the web is an attractive proposition for accountants, but not for those of us who have spent the last 10 years working online. A TV script makes for a poor online piece, just long-form print is not online journalism.
This fails to recognise that the the Internet is not print, it is not radio, it is not TV. It share some attributes with print and broadcast, but is a medium in its own right, with its own strengths and weaknesses.
This requires a shift in how journalists have approached stories, adopting a multimedia mindset from the get go.
It is time to stop talking about repurposing and instead to start a discussion on how to re-imagine journalism.