Monday, August 01, 2005

Linear vs. nonlinear

An interesting New York Times article today on various video initiatives on the Web.

Others will take apart the business and programming aspects, etc. But from the standpoint of a journalist/editor/writer, I found this observation most interesting:

For Alisha Davis, who joined MTV two months ago to anchor its afternoon Web newscasts, the medium offers opportunities and challenges that traditional television does not. With no fixed time slot to fill, her afternoon Webcast can run anywhere from 10 minutes to 20 minutes, depending on the news of the day. (That's far more than the three minutes that the MTV network now devotes to its newscasts.)
While she still begins each newscast with an upbeat rundown of stories, Ms. Davis also understands that is not necessarily how Internet viewers will watch the show.
"On a linear broadcast, you can refer to something that happened before," she said. "We can't do that. We'll set up a show for people, but a lot of people will create their own show."
Now, none of that is particularly earthshaking, but it gets to a core competency we are not yet addressing fully in the classroom (though we do at Newsplex) -- how to better handle things in a rapidly emerging nonlinear world. Too much of what we teach is still based on the old linear model for lots of reasons (partly because education itself is set up, if you think about it, to be a very linear track).

We need to think hard about readjusting journalism education to acknowledge the changing environment.


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