Transmedia Storytelling has potential to expand journalism’s reach, engagement

The roots of transmedia storytelling stem from the entertainment world. Its multimedia approach has the promise of expanding the sharability and engagement.

Definition

Transmedia Storytelling is a term coined by Henry Jenkins. (Henry Jenkins’ Blog) Essentially it’s the concept of telling a story through many different mediums – creating a ‘story world’ that reaches your audience on multiple platforms.

Sharability – Transmedia effectiveness is increased by the sharability of the content. The goal is to create a story world that users not only one to interact with themselves but that they want to share and experience with others.

Transmedia Case Study – True Blood

The HBO Series, True Blood, is a great example of transmedia storytelling. It is a show about a community in Louisiana where humans, vampires and other supernatural creatures coexist. Several different techniques are used to create the story world.

  • Prequel comic given out at ComicCon

  • Vending machines across the U.S. with ‘sold out’ for TruBlood – the fictional drink of vampires

  • Video game, jewelry line and dolls

  • Immortalize Yourself app that inserts you into a customized video

  • Video blogs written from the characters

Applying this Technique to Visual Journalism

The ultimate goal in journalism, particularly visual journalism is creating a clear story that your audience can relate to. Applying the techniques of transmedia offers new opportunities for the storyteller to deliver their message. A few examples:

  • When covering an event, have different people (aka characters) from the event write their own blog or record a short video vignette

  • Create a graphic that is interactive where the reader can input personal data to make the graphic relevant to themselves

Though transmedia storytelling has its roots in entertainment, its philosophy of finding the best way to tell the story can help journalists report stories that will resonate with their audience.

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