University of Aveiro ARTE & COMUNICATION DEPARTMENT 2008 NEW MEDIA, CONVERGENCE AND TV STORYTELLING FORMULAS (FROM CLASSICAL TELEVISION STORYTELLING TO NEW MEDIA VIDEO SCENARIOS) PhD Program in ICPD – Joint Org. Universities of Aveiro and Porto Department of Communication and Art - University of Aveiro Luís Miguel da Cruz Pato email@example.com ABSTRACT Today, we can conclude that the digitization o content production and diffusion has eased secular media processes. Nowadays, it’s considered that technological convergence; business and media convergence are the main issues responsible for this reality. Through the revision of the literature that was done for this article we’ve seen that there has been done a considerable investigation about the effects of convergence on news production and on issues that regard the technological aspects. Nevertheless, on what is related to television program storytelling and converged new media distribution practically nothing has been done. On this paper we will observe that classical broadcast television realities are being integrated into blurred digital environments – direct result of the ongoing convergent realities. Here, we’ll see that because of the ongoing participatory culture – an aspect that characterizes today’s audiences, converged media networks are being created in a rate that has never seen in history. Here we’ll observe that their contents are still based in ancestral storytelling formulas The present paper intends to argue and observe the new convergent resulted challenges that affect television and its reality in the web’s multi-platform environments. We will also observe all the sub sequential business realities that are a direct result of this reality. So, as an endnote we can conclude that the issues that the issues that we’re going to observe in the present paper are based on the following aspects: the existence of changes in converged realities and the eventual changes in television storytelling formulas for the web. Key Words: Convergence, Television, New Media, Classical Storytelling, Platforms, Active Audiences, , Genre, Transmedia 1 – INTRODUCTION Nowadays, though media convergence, we can observe that new converged media realities have been created. Because of the control over content that audiences have, today’s publics can enhance their communication possibilities. Thus accomplishing satisfaction for their participatory media habits. But, why does this happen? Through “Convergence” or as a result of this reality, technical developments have resulted in affordable “on-the-shelf equipment” (Nilsson, Olsson, 2001: 34). Due to this fact, nowadays, it’s believed that anyone has the ability to produce contents. Regarding University of Aveiro ARTE & COMUNICATION DEPARTMENT 2008 this issue, we could almost say that: “we all have portable television stations and TV production companies in our back-packs and pockets”1. When we look at the control over media realities in the current panorama we can conclude that because of the current cultural convergence reality: “media production is diverging and including contents that result from a participatory culture (Jenkins, 2006: 2). However, besides the worry of the inclusion of this new reality in media contents; today, we can observe an ongoing redefining process of relationships with audiences (Pavlik, 2001: 125,126). When we look at modern media realities, and regard all the changes that happened over the past decades we could conclude that because of the blending (direct result of the various convergence processes) there might exist an idea of anarchy (Bolin, 2007: 242). However, “today’s networks are decentralized, but they are not uncontrollable” (Lessig, 1999). With the convergence of broadcasting television and new media realities we can observe that there’s a there’s a combination of: “internet access, interactivity, broadcast in one appliance” (Cooke, 2005: 25). The convergence of media process fundaments a system where the appropriation of one medium by the other is possible (Ibid., 2005: 25). So, we can conclude that the “boundaries of media platforms are easier to cross” (Nillson, Olsson, 2001: 58). However, and regarding these aspects that come from the constant merging process that characterizes the “Convergence era”, the main research issues we would like to address in the present paper are: How are broadcast television programs being adapted to new media realities? What television storytelling formulas are currently being adapted in these realities? How is the participatory culture affecting this medium’s reality? And as a final question: “Being television a business based issue, what are the main changes that this medium is achieving in the convergence era? 2 – CLASSICAL TELEVISION STORYTELLING FORMULAS FROM PAST TO THE CONVERGENT NEW MEDIA REALITIES In the beginning of his chapter: “Designing Genres for New Media: Social Economic, and Political Contexts”, Philip Agre criticizes the: “portrayals of a digital future are too often monolithic: everything will be digital everyone will be wired, all media will converge in to one” (Ibid., 1998: 69). Regarding this issue, we could remember the black box fallacy because: “there will never be: “one black-box controlling the media” (Jenkins, 2001: 93). When, we think about the television industries and movies we mustn’t forget that, besides the entire technological development and adjacent business panorama, the University of Aveiro ARTE & COMUNICATION DEPARTMENT 2008 basic fact is that: it’s all based in the storytelling and genre (type) (Creeber, 2001: 1-3)2. However, what is storytelling? Aristotle tells us that the story is told in the following division of the plot and its actors: “recognisance, development and conclusion” (Ibid., 1998:37). Ken Dancyger defines this chronological issue in television reality as a representation of the: “Dramatic Arc” (Ibid., 2003: 238)3. Nevertheless, when we talk about the “categorization” of TV genre we can observe that these issues are considered this way because of the intended commercial consumption (Neele appud., Creeber, 2001: 3). Regarding this categorization4, on an empirical point of view we can observe that there’s: “a direct invitation for the audience to identify itself with the actions portrayed by the main actor” (Dancyger, 2003: 238). When we talk about the storytelling that happens in television and in cinema, we mustn’t forget that these issues are based on the narrative formula: “The Hero’s Journey”.5∗ Regarding this issue we can see James Joyce’s term: “Monomyth” (Ibid., 1947). In this theory, basically, al storytelling events share one common link that glues the whole plot: “the Hero” (Campbell, 2004)6. By considering today’s television reality we can see that there’s a belief that this medium’s content is still mainly traditional (linear). Here, according to some authors, (Eco, appud., Livingstone, 1999), (Dancyger, 2003), (Condry, 1989), (Meadows, 2002) with linear contents there’s an idea of comfort that come from the conformation of expectations that respond to the public’s desires. “The structural path is a single straight line” (Miller, 2004: 13). Still regarding this topic, we can also observe that besides the “hero”, historically, this type of narrative has other forms of transporting “the audience through the dramatic arc” (Dancyger, Rush, 2006: 155-156). Regarding this aspect, Bill Nichols tells us that the figure: “Narrator” is crucial. This author defines his actions as: “third-person observing (…) a formal way of telling stories” (Ibid., 2001: 91)7. We can say that with this type of storytelling we have: “a goal directed reality”! However, how do linear narratives work in new media environments? Here, we mustn’t forget that in Internet mediated realities we have multitask issue concentrated in a multidisciplinary nature (Erdal, 2007). When we talk about the convergence of new media realities and television, we can observe that there’s a direct usage of content from broadcast emissions in today’s internet TV realities. Here, if we look at media realities like: “Youtube”, it’s possible to observe that it simply works as a repository of decades of visual contents – a “creative archive” (Anderson, 2007: 15). Gillmour considers that the re-usage of contents is due to existence of: “lack of time”. Here, demands that come from audiences that aren’t easily satisfied and because technologies and knowledge permits the public University of Aveiro ARTE & COMUNICATION DEPARTMENT 2008 to have an active role in the current media scenarios (Ibid., 2004: 147). These participatory demands are the direct result of the convergent realities (Jenkins, 2006: 35). But, why re-use analogue contents? Simpson and Greenfied tell us that besides the accomplishment of these immediate demands, this way there’s always: “something to see” (Ibid., 2007: 201). So, we can conclude that the: television storytelling formulas that are currently being used in new media realities are still linear formatted because it’s just simply more comfortable (Aarseth, appud., Ryan, 2004: 362). 3 – PARTICIPATORY CULTURE AND NEW MEDIA TELEVISION PROGRAMS SOLUTIONS NOW THE PUBLIC IS THE RIGHT HAND OF THE TV STORTELLER When we think about today’s television audiences, we see that authors like: Dan Tapscott, (Net Generation), Alvin Tofler (Pro-sumer) and more recently Mark Prensky’s (Digital Native)8 have used a series of slogans to define today’s convergent participative culture. Today, “the audience has the means and the knowledge to become an active participant in the creation process” – costumers are now contributors and vice-versa (Willis, Bowman, 2002). The existence of web realities like: Youtube - mean that the: “public is getting involved” (Bastos, 2005). So, we can understand why Deuze considers that: “their role in today’s media is fundamental” (Ibid., 2004: 140). This author considers that the solution might pass through an attitude of “telling with and not telling to” (Deuze, 2007)! We could also call this reality: “Collaborative Television” (Carver, White, 2003: 201). Regarding this remark we could look at the example of “CurrentTV”. Here, in this Al Gore project, it is the public that has an active role in the decision taking process and in the editorial questions. Its grid is consisted with the result that come from a viewer created content reality (Romani, Kuklinski, 2007: 65-66). So, we can observe that these environments are not for: “passive entertainment” (Murray, 1997:162). The idea of a “take-over by interactive realities” can be considered the obvious future of television (Chroniapoulos, 2004). Today, because of this participatory desire we have a process where television is being reinvented. “Between blogs, links and BitTorrent downloads, hundreds of thousands of people watch clips online rather than on TV” – we’re reinventing television (Goetz, 2005). So, we can conclude that today, it has become: “almost impossible for a channel to increase its distribution the old way” (Zalaznick, appud., Hansell: 2006). However, besides all these aspects, when we think about the relationship between old media and new media, we can observe that there’s a “Remediation Process”. Here one reality remediates the other, and vice-versa (Bolter, Grusin, appud., Krumsvik, 2008). Besides these changes due to the participatory public’s demands, this medium hasn’t University of Aveiro ARTE & COMUNICATION DEPARTMENT 2008 changed its understandings of the public because its struggle for dominance is still based on analogue experience – it’s safer this way (Siapera, appud., Erdal., 2007). To characterize this scenario of convergent frameworks between new media and old media, Fagerjord defines this as: “Rhetorical Convergence”. (Ibid., 2003). 4. TRANSMEDIA AND CONGLEMRATE TELEVISION MEDIA REALITIES Before, when we observed in this paper that there exists the re-usage of television contents and languages in new media realities, we could say that these business solutions are sold by media companies that are organized as: “conglomerates” (Shatz, 2008). Here, we’re talking about media realities (companies) that own a great number of other small companies (preferably with other media specifications). In Portugal – like in the rest of the world – we have several of these realities: “RTP”, “Impreza”, “MediaCapital”. Today, in the United States there exist’s eight huge conglomerates: “ Walt Disney”, “Time-Warner”, “Viacom”, “NBC - Universal”, “News Corparation”, “Yahoo”, “Microsoft” and “Google”9. We could almost say that it’s a business haven. Francisco Cádima calls this the “multiplex issue” here we have a privileged platform for: multi-platform content (Ibid., 2006: 138). “The Wachowskis built a playground where other artists could experiment and fans could explore” (Jenkins, 2006: 113). This definition may be the most accurate form to describe a “Transmedia” reality and intention**. Here we have a media reality that Janet Murray defined as: “Cyberdrama”. Here, this author considered that this content will “encompass many forms and styles but essentially it will be a single distinctive entity” (Ibid., 2000: 271). Nowadays, Jenkins considers that this reality is simply media that can be dispersed across different platforms (Ibid., 2007:)! It has the migratory behaviour of media audiences who would go almost everywhere in search of entertainment experiences (Jenkins, appud., Wolf, 2007: 299). 5 - CONCLUSION We are still changing the future through the past. Today, we can see that there is a convergent attitude that is happening on a worldwide scale. It has shared television production realities that are still using ancestral storytelling habits. We’ve seen that this issue is due to ancestral comfort issues and business realties. We’ve seen that the participatory culture is giving us the unique opportunity to participate, develop cross-media business realities and interact with our digital surrounding mediascape. Thus becoming active role-players. So, as an endnote, we can conclude that convergence and its media developments are the future but it’s a reality that’s just starting to take shape. University of Aveiro ARTE & COMUNICATION DEPARTMENT 2008 6 – REFERENCES Agre, P., (1998), Designing Genres for New Media: Social, Economic and Political Contexts, in: Jones, S., (1998), Cybersociety 2.0, Thousand Oaks,UK. Bastos, H., (2005), Ciberjornalismo e Narrativa Hipermédia. 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University of Aveiro ARTE & COMUNICATION DEPARTMENT 2008 Prensky, M., (2001), Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, MCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 5, Oct. Available at: http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf. Ryan, M., L., (2004), Narrative Across Media, University of Nebraska Ed. Nebraska USA. Ryan, M. (2005). Beyond Myth and Metaphor – The Case of Narrative in Digital Media. Em: http://www.gamestudies.org/0101/ryan/. Schatz, T. (2008), Sony, Spider-Man, and Conglomerate Hollywood. Available on-line at: http://flowtv.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/tom_schatz.pdf. Simpson, W., Greenfield, H., (2007) IPTV and Internet Vídeo, Oxford – UK, Focal Press. Wolf, M., (2007), The Video Game Explosion: A History from Pong to Playstation and Beyond, Greenwood, USA. Sites: Henry Jenkins homepage: http://www.henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html. Images: * Image – 1 - Hero’s Journey Scheme 5 1 Known Environment 2 4 Un4k nown Environment 3 University of Aveiro ARTE & COMUNICATION DEPARTMENT 2008 ** Image – 2 – Transmedial Play: Cognitive and cross-platform narrative (Source: http://www.narrativedesign.org/2008/05/transmedial-play-the-aim-of-na.html) Endnotes: 1 Nilsson, A., Nuldén, U., Olsson, D., (2001), Mobile Media: The Convergence of Media and Mobile Communications, In: Convergence The Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. 2 Classically speaking and when we talk about “genre” (type) we can observe that it’s based on the aspects: “Tragedy”(Imitation of higher social classes – has time limit), Comedy (Imitation of lower social Classes) and Epic (Imitation of higher Hellenic Social classes – doesn’t have a time limit) (Butcher, n/d). 3 “Dramatic Arc” – is an aspect is referred to the three-act narrative. 4 Here, we can see that in practical terms there’s a categorization of a stories in formats. Comedy, Epic, News, Soap Operas, Action - Are some of the groupings for the productions of television and cinema. 5 It’s considered a basic and fundamental storytelling “tool” for today’s cinema and television programs (Campbell, 2004). Here, we can observe that this storytelling phenomena ordeals through the following stages: 1 – A man (Hero) is Born in special conditions; 2 – The Hero receives a calling to live an adventure in a unknown environment; a) – He leaves his known environment and has helpers and amulets; b) - There’s a need to overcome various tests; 3 – Lives the Final Battle – Climax – that he normally wins; 4 – After his battle he feels the need to return home; a) – Elixir – blessing that’s achieved; b) – He’s a different man – blessed; 5 – The returns home crowned with glory and triumphant 6 We can also observe this aspect in religion. The story of: Christ, Buda, Mohammad, Ala, Abraham and Moses all share the same common element - one Hero and his adventure. 7 Regarding this issue, we can also observe that Narrator portrays its role in the following realities: 1 - Narrator as an Observer – here his mission in the story is to let the public accompany him in a mission (it can be a person, a place or a idea); 2 – Narrator as an Investigator – e investigates with a purpose (understand a notion or a person’s reality); 3 – Narrator as a Guide – as the show goes on, we can observe that the Narrator has the intention to observe, understand and explain; 4 – Narrator as a Teaser – here there’s a specific purpose in the program. The nature of the narration can be objective or ironic. (Dancyger, 2003: 346-352). 8 Digital Native is someone that was born with current digital technologies. Here, we can see that a person that was born before the emergence of these technologies are considered: “Digital Immigrants” (Prensky, 2001). 9 And then there were eight – from GE NBC to Google – Youtube. Available at: Columbia Journalism Review – Free Press.