Changes in technology have drastically changed the ways that society both creates and consumes news. This phenomenon is known as ‘convergent journalism’, which essentially refers to the way that news media is turning to multi-platform publishing, utilising methods such as print media, digital media and social media. In a world where over 3 billion people now have constant access to online news platforms through their smartphones, the move further towards convergent journalism is more important than ever.
While the phenomenon of convergent journalism has contributed to the emergence of ‘digital-native’ news platforms such as Buzzfeed, Mashable and refinery29, ‘legacy’ news organisations are also taking advantage of the new opportunities that convergent journalism provides. ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) News is one news service which has fully embraced the nature of convergent journalism, with social media, radio, online, TV and a smartphone app all contributing to their constant news stream. With the ability to constantly update this stream provided by its convergent media methods, its no surprise that the ABC is often one of the first to jump on breaking news stories, quickly sending out convergent journalistic content.
A prime example of this followed the death of Australian serial killer Ivan Milat on October 27th, with a feature story published to the ABC’s website within hours of his death. As far as utilising convergent media practices goes, this story goes above and beyond, primarily using visual imagery through photos and videos to immerse the reader within the story.
The story, whilst it is one that most of the Australian population has heard countless times before, is told from an alternative perspective than what would be considered the usual. Beginning with an account from the sister, Pam Mitchell, of one of his unconfirmed victims, the story then seamlessly transitions to the former NSW Police Commissioner Clive Small before finally transitioning to ABC reporter Phillipa McDonald’s experience of covering the killings. The transition between each of these perspectives is made seamless by the use of photographs, which remain stationary filling the screen, while the text scrolls past them, effectively splitting the story into the three parts whilst also blending the three different perspectives.
The presentation of the story is key to getting the story across, with all of the images as well as the black background working to provide the overall dark vibe that is necessary for a story of this nature. This ‘vibe’ is apparent right from the start, with the header of the web page presenting video footage from the perspective of a car driving down a dirt road at night.
It is important to note that all of the features mentioned above are only present when reading the story on a laptop or desktop computer, with all of the text and images remaining static when viewed on a smart phone or similar device.
this shows that while the ABC has made significant advancements in terms of a move towards more convergent journalism methods, there is still a way to go in order to ensure that the same experience can be provided to people getting their news on both computers and smartphones.
In terms of promoting the story, it was published to the ABC’s social media pages, including Facebook and Twitter, between 7 and 8am the morning after his death, just in time to attract the morning masses of people waking up and checking their social feeds.
Overall, the ABC has made a lot of progress in a media world which is embracing convergent journalistic methods more and more, as shown with the above example regarding the death of Ivan Milat.