Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Integrated or desintegrated use of text and video online

One of the main features of online news is multimedia. In past literature, multimedia is most of the times defined as the integration of text, audio, video and other modalities into one format.
However, when studying Flemish online news sites, we must conclude that video is seldom fully integrated into a news article. Indeed, many online news sites use video, but most of the times these video fragments are not integrated into a news article. There is not much more than a video-link integrated into the text-article. When clinking on the link, a new window opens and the video is played above the orginal test-based message. We suggest that this use of video is not an integrated or convergent use of different media but instead a divergent one.

Example 1 - example 2: In these articles, the focus is on the text. Alongside the article, there are some links. One of the links refers to a video and when clicked on this link, a new window opens and the video is played. This is a disintegrated use of video.
Sometimes, these videos are even presented in a seperated section on the website. In this case, the videos stand alone and are not even linked to the text message. This stand-alone character of video is reinforced by the covering title these videos get. In HLN.be, these stand-alone videos are stored under the "HLN-TV" section (as if this is a totally different news medium than the general web site), and on standaard.be these video are called "WebTV".
However, example 3 and example 4 demonstrate that an fully integrated use of text and video is possible. While looking at the video, it is still possible to read the text and to get the whole picture of the news item. VRTnieuws.net has been using this type of integrated news since the beginning of the site (even with integrated audio), but today I noticed that also HLN.be uses a fully integration of these two modalities (example 4). However, the way VRTNieuws.net integrates video into the text is in my opinion more ideal since HLN.be uses Youtube for playing the video.

As I will demonstrate and defend in upcoming articles and paper presentations, I suggest that the term multimedia is often not correct for describing one of the main features of online news media. I suggest that the integrated use of different modalities like text, video and audio into one news format (like vrtnieuws.net) should be called multimodality (a term often used in linguistics and semiotics), while the desintegrated use of different modalities (like webTV and HLN-TV) can be called multimedia, as in this case different online media are used (general website for the text and the videosites for the video fragments).
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