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Learning Through Transmedia Storytelling in the Micro-context of Samara
University, Russia
E. Agrikova, Russia
The fact that journalism has come to a new stage of development should be reflected
in the journalists’ education. One of the main method of the new stage, convergent
journalism, is transmedia storytelling that can be implemented into the bachelor’s
education. In the paper the comparative analysis of traditional and transmedia
journalistic works was made, and the possible ways of using techniques of
transmedia storytelling in the course of study were proposed. The article can be
useful for journalists, mass media specialists and educators who work with
21st century is the time when journalism comes to a new stage of development
called convergent. The common ground for journalistic convergence is the blurring
of the limits between different media –professional skills, formats and production
strategies (e.g., Dupagne and Garrison, 2006; Silcock and Keith, 2006). In other
words, it is the combination of verbal and non-verbal communication. The founder
of the term «convergent journalism», Henry Jenkins said that there are three main
concepts that shape this phenomenon – the flow of the content across multiple
media platforms; the cooperation between multiple media industries and the
migratory behaviour of media audiences who will go anywhere in search of the
kinds of entertainment experiences they want [2, p. 17]. One of the methods where
all of these specific features can be taken into consideration is transmedia
The main sphere where convergent journalism can exist is the Internet. Furthermore,
nowadays the Internet becomes one of the principal means of getting information.
According to statistics, the amount of Russian Internet-media has grown from 6220
to 9,5 thousand since 2011. The usage of Inernet-media increased by 61%. Since
2005 the amount of online-media registration increased by 482%. These facts prove
that journalism's main field of work becomes the Internet [3]. Now let's get a view
of transmedia storytelling and the skills that are neccessary for creating it.
Transmedia storytelling is a specific form of narration that unfolds through different
forms of languages (verbal, iconic, etc.) and means of media (videos, photos and
pictures, etc). The main feature of it is that the story is not repeated in all forms of
narration, but contribute to the construction of it. Henry Jenkins produced the core
concepts of transmedia storytelling that are world-building, seriality, subjectivity,
performance, spreadability and drillability, continuity and multiplicity, immersion
and extractability.
World-building stands for participatory culture – the changing of roles of consumers
who interact with the producers. Now consumers prefer to seek out new information
and absorb it in their own way, which is possible today due to the interlinked nature
of the Internet. Seriality means that the creator of the story should always search for
new media platforms and new development of the information given. Subjectivity
focuses on consumers experiencing different perspective blends. Performance
inspires readers to produce and perform their own storytelling that can invigorate
scenario innovation of the story. With the use of spreadability and drillability the
creator can report stories faster to the larger public. Continuity and multiplicity help
to unfold the story in separate lines and across the diversed media. Immersion and
extractability provide the reader's dipping into the story [2, p.23].
Journalists have always hoped to be not only educational, but also powerfully
resonant and interesting to their public. By implementing the techniques of
transmedia storytelling to journalism, journalists can combine the power of newand old-media tools and interpersonal networks to engage the public better.
Moreover, according to the journalist Kevin Moloney nowadays the most important
professional journalistic obligation is “to tell the most complete story possible. For
example, by providing drillable stories journalists encourage the reader to find more
complete contextual information and the inevitable multiple perspectives on any
story.” [4] This could be done with the help of transmedia storytelling.
There were several precedents in journalism of making such transmedia stories. The
first one was made by New York Times on the Web in 1996. Photo editor Fred
Ritchin and French photojournalist Gilles Peress produced an interactive photo
essay that would allow the reader to drill deeper into the story to see beyond
traditional presentation. The result, “Bosnia: Uncertain Paths to Peace,” was
multilinear, multimedia and interlinked with contextual information [5]. With the
help of hyperlinks the reader can disclose the content by his/her own scenario.
Another transmedia project was also done by New York Times in 2012. The name
of this story “Snow Fall. The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” became institution and
was awarded Pulitzer Prize [6]. This was an investigation by a journalist John
Brench about a snowbreak in the park Tunnel Creek in Australia. This transmedia
project is much more interactive due to the technologies which have come with the
digital age, but the principles remain the same. The following examples show that
those stories which are of investigative nature lend well to the transmedia approach.
But it can also be news stories where a larger project might report on longstanding
The differences between traditional journalistic piece of work and a transmedia one
can be observed in the following table:
Traditional journalistic
Transmedia journalistic
Breadth regulated by a genre Broadness
(newspaper article, TV report, Drilling for more details and
go information by both consumer
deeper without using other and journalist
means of media
Sticking to genre according to Intergrated genres
Genre distinction
the mass media (article in a
broadcast news, etc.)
information + entertainment)
Nature of
Journalist creates everything Co-creation (journalist and the
by him/herself
Journalistic work aimed at Production of content (text,
producing one kind of product
Unity of
Multiplicity of pieces that can Interrelation of all pieces of
not be connected to each other content
pieces of work
This table shows that working with the transmedia storytelling requires specific
skills. Let’s find out which of them are necessary for journalists who want to
succeed in contemporary reality of journalism.
Taking into consideration Jenkins’ seven principles and the diversity of production
we single out the following skills:
- combination of text, video, audio, images in one product;
- administrating multimedia content and adaptating the material for
miscellaneous media resources;
- creation of the advanced, multidementional informational framework with the
help of different means of media and hypertext links (web-portal, social
networking, story-guided user-generated content);
- making the right composition of transmedia narratives;
- imbedding the audience in the story and making them the co-creators;
- creation of interstitial microstories which after combining unfold the whole
Some educators propose that transmedia storytelling can be used not only by
journalists, but also by school and university students. Laura Flemming says that
transmedia learning is the application of storytelling techniques combined with the
use of multiple platforms to create an immersive learning landscape which enables
multivarious entry and exit points for learning and teaching. Transmedia pedagogy
uses technology in an integrated way that allows learners and content to flow
seamlessly across media platforms. Education across multiple media allows for
great continuity in learning. Every piece of the puzzle works to engage the learner.
Transmedia techniques, when responsibly and effectively applied in an educational
context, immerse students in their own learning and, as a happy corollary, advance
media literacy education for all [7, p.370].
Speaking about the exercises and activities that are aimed at developing the
following skills, the main type of exercises should be those, which are of integrative
nature. For example, exercises aimed at integrating text into video, audio and vice
versa, making materials for different information-bearer channels (web-site, blogs,
social nets), making short stories or even essays that can be developed further to
complete the story. Another effective method to teach how-to use transmedia
storytelling is to create a project or an essay with the help of the Internet and
different media platforms such as Google, YouTube, Infogram, Instagram and other
social nets.
The whole educative process of the following skills can be implied into a project. In
the micro-context of Samara University the students of different majors (History
and Journalism) are currently working on a transmedia project called “Samara for
International Guests”.
Samara is a large city where a lot of international projects and forums are held. The
upcoming World Cup – 2018, active affluence of foreign students and specialists
from abroad mean that Samara becomes attractive for foreigners. These conditions
impose occurrence of a well-developed, informational-communicative space with
the educative and entertaining aims. The transmedia project “Samara For
International Guests” can contribute to the development of such space. The main
objective is to tell the story of Samara Region in an interactive form so that the
target audience will not only learn a lot of new, but also will participate in the
conversation. The students develop their foreign language competence preparing the
materials in English. Moreover, they learn how to develop the story through
multiple platforms using their logic and abstract thinking. Writing literacy (both
academic and colloquial) is also a very important part in making out this project.
In conclusion, the stage where the development of nowadays journalism is, requires
a lot of new, up-to-date skills. The model of multi-skilling journalist who can
produce and publish all forms of mass media is acute. Transmedia storytelling is a
very complex and labyrinthine phenomenon that should be examined and analyzed
further. But the realias claim journalists to create it if they want to succeed in this
brisk paced, competitive sphere. The development of mentioned skills helps wouldbe journalists keep track of modern tendencies.
Dupagne M., Garrison B. The meaning and influence of convergence /Journalism
Studies. 2006. Vol. 7, No. 2. Jenkins H. Convergence Culture. Where Old and New Media Collide. New York,
2008. Pletz T. Media in Russia in 2016. Data Analysis for the last 25 years. [Electronic
source] // MediaDigger. 2016. URL: (accessed date: 18.07.2016). Moloney K. Building Transmedia Journalism [Electronic source] // Transmedia
Journalism. 2014. URL: http://transmedi- (accessed date: 18.07.2016). Peress G. Bosnia: Uncertain Paths to Peace [Electronic source] // New York Times.
1996. URL: http://www.pix- (accessed date: 18.07.2016).
Brench J. Snowfall. Avalanche at Tunnel Creek [Electronic source] // Ibid. 2012.
URL: jects/2012/snow-fall/#/?part=tunnel-creek
(accessed date: 18.07.2016).
Fleming L. Expanding learning opportunities with transmedia practices: Inanimate
Alice as an Exemplar // Journal of Media Literacy Education. 2013. No 5. Р. 370–
Please check the Creative Methodology for the Classroom course at Pilgrims website.
Please check the English Improvement course at Pilgrims website.
Please check the Teaching Advanced Students course at Pilgrims website.
Please check the Practical Uses of Technology in the Classroom course at Pilgrims website.