On July 18th, I gave a lecture at Jinan University for the school’s media leadership conference. They asked me to speak about “convergence journalism,” a subject I know a lot about, even though I’m not a big fan of the word “convergence.” I emphasized that in the digital world we live in, many ways of storytelling have converged, and any news organization can work in practically any medium — text, photos, audio, video and interactive — with relative ease. So, essentially, all journalism is convergence journalism. Instead of dwelling on converging media, I urged the audience to be smart about finding the right medium for the story, rather than trying to shoe-horn a story into any individual storytelling method.
To make this point, I use a poem by Dylan Thomas, which has been used and adapted across various platforms. By reading it, listening to it being read, and seeing people (including the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield) perform it, we see the strength of each of the mediums and can then think about how that translates to news stories.
One of my favorite quotes of Dylan Thomas — who was known for this lilting baritone and the flourish of his reading aloud from his own work and that of others — is this:
“The printed page is the place in which to examine the works of a poem, and the platform the place on which to give the poem the works.”
In modern news reporting, we have so many platforms on which to give the story the works.
I was joined at Jinan by my Medill colleagues Scott Anderson, Michael Deas and Zach Wise, who made this collage of photos of attendees who came to speak to me after my talk.