Is Multimodality A New Necessity For Journalists?

Could the use of social media become the new future of journalism or is it just another sign of the times? In order to keep up-to-date within the world of journalism, I challenged myself to experiment within multimodal storytelling. Alongside my blogging journey, I wanted to research why Instagram was such a crucial platform in becoming a successful journalist. Throughout this blog post, I will be sharing my experience of using Instagram to determine whether multimodality is the future of the journalistic field. Ultimately I wanted an answer to my question: what is the best way to utilise multimedia today as a journalist?

Within the digital age and the rise of social media, multimodality has become a new necessity for journalists. Multimedia and multimodality has developed over the last decade, and has overall modified society in relation to new media, technologies and journalism.

Multimodality creates new ways of reading and writing through social media. Multimodality is a way of coping with the changing times and keeping journalism relevant. “Literacy teaching and learning needs to change because the world is changing.” — Cope and Kalantzis 2000

What is multimodality?

Multimedia is content that uses a combination of different content forms such as text, audio, images, animations, video and interactive content. Within Kobie van Krieken’s article he describes a multimedia story as “the presentation of a news story package on a website using two or more media formats. Multimedia stories have potential to immerse the audience by offering an encompassing, distraction-free environment. Experiences of immersion can furthermore be elicited by the incorporation of interactive elements.”

“A modality, or, more explicitly, a modality of information representation, is a way of representing information in some medium.” — Bernsen and Dybkjaer 2009

“Multimodality involves the complex interweaving of word, image, gesture and movement, and sound, including speech. These can be combined in different ways and presented through a range of media.” — Bearne and Wolstencroft 2007

Image by NeonBrand on UnSplash

Why does multimodality matter?

We all know that the future of reading and writing is closely intertwined with the future of digital technologies and social media. Due to the significant rise of social media within the last decade, this has caused children and the upcoming generations to become familiar platforms online- right? As these children are aware of multimodal texts, it therefore becomes our responsibility to build on these experiences and knowledge to better their understanding and use multimodality effectively. Ultimately, supporting upcoming generations will enable society to successfully develop literacy skills for today and for the future.

Is Instagram worth the hype?

At part of my research into multimodality, I took to Instagram to show that multimodality is important and effective within the digital age.

The app that was launched in 2010, quickly became a global phenomenon. With over 1 billion users, the app allows users to upload media that can be edited with filters and organised by hashtags and geographical locations. Users can like and follow, of which these photos will end up on their personal feed.

As a practising journalist, I found Instagram very useful for breaking news information, as I followed numerous news accounts. I was able to share news posts on my stories, and create engagement through polls and highlights. When publishing a blog post on Medium, I was able to share my work through my Instagram feed and stories, which causing further engagement with my readers. Using the app’s multimodal features such as GIFs and emojis, I was able to make my stories very visual, aesthetically pleasing and engaging.

Screenshots of various news stories from my Instagram

When I had published a blog post and wanted to share through my story, I encountered only one problem. In order to include a swipe up link straight to my blog URL, I discovered you had to have at least 10,000 followers on your account. This would have been an extra feature that I could have used to engage with my readers, as it is a simple step for them to follow. Instead, I guided my followers to click the link in my bio, which would lead them straight to my blog.

So you may be wondering: why did I chose Instagram over other social media platforms? Well, my blogging journey has consisted of three social media platforms where I can engage with and share news. This has been through my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. However, I believe that Instagram is the most successful platform as it is the most interactive and includes the most multimodal features. Instagram is relevant today due to the rising industry of influencers, and I believed the majority of my readers would be using the app daily. Overall, Instagram offers multimodal stories as they include features like emojis, GIFs, polls, quizzes and more. I conducted a poll on my Twitter to find out where my followers found most of their news, and from the results below I consolidated that social media would be the best place to engage with readers. Out of all the social media platforms, I concluded that Instagram would be the most successful way of engagement due to my reasonings above.

Screenshot of a poll on my Twitter
Screenshots of my polls released on my Instagram and Twitter

So, after answering my question around the best way to utilise multimedia as a journalist, I have a question for you: have you considered multimodality as a form of storytelling?

Let me know your answers through my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In a time where we feel divided, lets get more connected.

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Eve Orrick

Bournemouth based blogger 💻 Straight-talker, Instagram-lover & high-heel-wearer. World’s most high maintenance. Instagram & Twitter @EveOrrickJ