Talking “Convergence” in China

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.

Photo by Zach Wise
Photo by Zach Wise

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.

 

Craigfans_ZachPhotos
Photos by Zach Wise
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Field Report: New Orleans

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From the levee in the Holy Cross neighborhood of New Orleans, you get a great view of downtown across the Mississippi River. With photographer Roger Herr.

This past week, I continued work on a series of pieces I’m doing in New Orleans for the74million.org,  a news portal focused on education that will launch this Monday. (The 74 million refers to the number of children under the age of 18 in the USA.) Since so much of what I’ve been doing the past several years has been solo video journalism, it has been a while since I’ve had the luxury to work in the field with a correspondent, a photographer and a sound person.

Campbell Brown talks to Jamal Preston, a recent graduate of the Dr. King Charter School in New Orleans.
Campbell Brown talks to Jamal Preston, a recent graduate of the Dr. King Charter School in New Orleans.

I had the pleasure to work with former NBC and CNN reporter/anchor Campbell Brown, photographer Roger Herr, a former CNN colleague and Darryl Mitchell on sound. The last time Roger, Darryl and I worked together we got to stand on top of the head of George Washington on Mount Rushmore for a Discovery Channel show on Homeland Security.

I’ll tell you more about the New Orleans stories when they run in August.

Campbell Brown (third from left) with Jamar McKneely (far left), the CEO of InspireNOLA charter schools, and parents of children at the Andrew Wilson school in Broadmoor.
Campbell Brown (third from left) with Jamar McKneely (far left), the CEO of InspireNOLA charter schools, and parents of children at the Andrew Wilson school in Broadmoor.