The power of the sound
“Websites are not using sound as effectively as they could”. This has been stated by Dr Olatz Larrea who, along with Dr Lluís Mas, has presented the study Use of sound and speech in the integrated journalism age, also in collaboration with Dr Emma Rodero, all from Universitat Pompeu Fabra. “Sound is non-intrusive, but multitasking, informative, flexible, creative, inexpensive and quick”, Larrea has assured.
According to their research, CNA (Catalan News Agency) and Vilaweb do not generally use sound as an informative resource, whereas CCMA (Catalan Corporation of Audio-visual Media), as it was born in a multimedia environment, combines different media platforms such as text, video and audio. The researchers consider that “an efficient journalism website should be based on both multimedia and hypermedia”. In this sense, Mas has added: “Image and movement in the web can be reinforced with sound”.
Following this idea, Larrea and Mas want to encourage the media “to move a step forward in order to potentiate and integrate sound resources in news reporting”. However, Mas laments the fact that “there is no other way to achieve this goal than having a well-equipped system”.
Gamification: motivational or manipulative?
“What happens when we gamify journalism?” This is the question that PhD researcher Raul Ferrer, from Karlstads Universitet (Sweden) has laid on the table. Gamification consists in the use of game thinking and mechanics in non-game contexts – like journalism – to engage users in solving problems and increase users’ contribution.
Ferrer has presented several examples of gamification in media organizations. The researcher has pointed out Al-Jazeera as one of the best current examples, as its goal is “to inform the readers who play at being journalists and consume different types of media”. On the contrary, Ferrer considers that The Times of India, which gives points to users for non-necessarily journalistic contributions, “is not interested in informing, but in attracting audience”. He has also been critical with Bleacher report, which pushes journalists to competition by giving them points for publishing more or receiving more comments. “This system makes journalists develop a commercial logic and this can be counter-productive”, he has alerted.
In this context, Ferrer has emphasized the tension between those who claim that gamification “engages, empowers and drives social changes by encouraging people”, and those who consider that it “distances games from art and turns them to marketing, exploitation and surveillance”.
Bing culture, a normalized phenomenon
Finally, researcher Paul Ionut Boca, from Universitatea Babes-Bolyai (Romania) has analysed the “radical changes” that TV series’ consumption has experimented with the advent of online streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. According to Boca, “limitations imposed by traditional media have determined the increase of online consumption”. This has lead to the so called binge media culture, which refers to the consumption of TV series’ seasons or several episodes in one single session.
As Boca has pointed out, this phenomenon is not new, but it has not been until the emergence of online services, “which are affordable and easy to use”, that it has spread globally and been a common pattern among users. “Thanks to the binge culture, old TV shows can gain new consumers that missed episodes or seasons when they were originally broadcasted”.
But this bing culture, which “has lost its negative connotation”, has some disadvantages for TV series critics. “The lack of synchronization between the narrative levels reached by consumers and the emergence of a new spoiler culture have given critics the difficult task of writing about an entire season of a show without revealing too much of the plot itself”, Boca has remarked.