Networked Journalism Education

The rise of the moving image

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This is my response to this month’s Carnival of Journalism question: ” “What is the role of online video in the newsroom of the future?

My speculation is that video will grow to be a dominant form of communication in the near future. Newsrooms will learn to use video along with the rest of us — through testing, experimentation and messing around. The role of video will naturally grow until it’s so natural we don’t even think about it.

I think this for two reasons:

First, I am pretty convinced that we are entering a new era of communication. My belief has been shaped in part by Mitchell Stephens in his 1998 book, The rise of the image the fall of the word, who argues that we are transitioning “from a culture dominated by the printed word to one dominated by moving images.”  In the preface he writes:

In the sixteenth century Rabelais exclaimed, “Printing…is now in use, so elegant and so correct, that better cannot be imagined….” Almost half a millennium has passed. My contention, simply stated, is that we are finally ready to imagine better, that once again we have come upon a form of communication powerful enough to help us fashion new understandings, stronger understandings.

This argument on behalf of video may discomfit my fellow print lovers. I have tried, however, to write with an appreciation for the grand accomplishments of the written and printed word and, therefore, for what it means to state that the moving image will surpass those accomplishments.

(Interestingly, like a snippet of lost video found on an old hard drive, an annotated conversation about Mitchell’s argument published in FEED mag is still available online.)

What this means to me is that we are in the throes of a much larger shift in communication than newsrooms can contain or manage. The transition is happening. Newsrooms will adapt or they will shrink, morph or disappear.

The second reason I believe this is that video is inherently more social than printed words, and social is where we are. My students read less and less; they love to watch video. They love to watch it in class where we can follow along at the same pace, laugh at the same places and transport ourselves — together — in ways that would be impossible in print. (Print can also transport us in ways that video can’t, but reading is essentially a solitary experience. My students crave connection and rarely allow themselves to experience solitariness.) Given that they are the future and they choose video, I think that’s our future, too.

Written by Donica

September 30th, 2011 at 7:36 pm

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