MED4105: Journalism, PR and the Media: How has shifts towards convergence-based journalism shaped the way Damon Hill and Lewis Hamilton are covered in BBC and Sky’s F1 coverage?

.Object of Study

I have decided with my object of study to use the theory of convergence to investigate into how Damon Hill and Lewis Hamilton are covered in the BBC and Sky’s F1 coverage respectively. I will analyse how both texts utilise other convergence-based theories to enhance my analysis of how Hill and Hamilton are covered in a journalism context.

Kolodzy (2006) defines convergence as the coming together of two or more things. Discussing this in a news media context, the definition of convergence becomes difficult to explain. This is prevalent in televised sports as the convergence of journalistic content involves journalists working in different media to come together and create content for various audiences.

Constructing my research question, I had several ideas which were either too broad or too specialised. Since I wanted to focus on convergence, I rewrote my research questions to ensure that it fitted in with my object of study.

I came to a conclusion in which my research question was on “How has shifts towards convergence-based journalism shaped the way Damon Hill and Lewis Hamilton are covered in BBC and Sky’s F1 coverage?” This would allow me to get the maximum out of my chosen methodology and findings.

Using the research question I have constructed, this would enable me to look at how convergence is used in more depth, which would allow me to explore how the BBC and Sky use elements from video games and online in a postmodern context in their F1 coverage.

Literature Review

Postmodernism has had many different terms over the years, it’s widely considered to be as old as modernism (Anderson, 1998). However, postmodernism has been explained by some people in different ways, making it unclear of what the theory actually means.

Jameson (1990) argues that the problem with postmodernism is that its fundamental characteristics are described, exists or if the concept has any use aesthetically or politically. Jameson is justifying the use of the theory, referring to it as ‘high or classical modernism’, which the temptation resembles a ‘family resemblance’. Therefore, I believe he makes a point about the problems of postmodernism and how there are different general positions of the theory (antimodern, propostmodern, structuralism and Marxism), which have all very unique stances such as Wolfe, which aims to discredit shoddiness and superficiality of a postmodernist style with camp humour.

Convergence journalism is similar to postmodernism, but it has a completely different definition, particularly in news media. Convergence is where two or more things (media) come together, but if you’re discussing it in a news context, it becomes tricky to explain what actual mediums are coming together (Kolodzy, 2006).

In this current news media environment where audiences are becoming more fragmented and traditional mediums such broadcast and news are declining to online platforms. However, with the rise of the ‘interactive digital television’ (ITV) in the 90’s, it was endowed as the ‘killer application’ that would have far-reaching effects on society and paved greater emphasis on empowerment (Curran, 2010). What does this explain about the current news media environment today? How has the current advances in modern technology impacted the way traditional mediums such as The Sun and BBC News deliver content to new audiences?

Gamification is a completely different theory compared to postmodernism and convergence. Its definition is the use of game thinking and mechanics to enhance non-game contexts such as in this context online and television news (Graham, 2012).

One of the things to consider with gamification is ‘Why people play?’ Is it to master a skill, distress after a long day at work, have fun or socialise with friends? Considering this is in a news context, the theory has some similarities to postmodernism due to its simulation elements, which overlap together without origin or reality, a hyperreal (Baudrillard, 1988). However, what makes gamification different is it strives to turn simple user ID accounts into active players that help the developers understand their good and bad points (Cunningham & Zichermann, 2011). For example, with the Sky Sports app, if audiences aren’t being turned from consumers to players, then the feedback section is there to improve the whole experience for new and existing players.

Utilising these theories will have their limitations because the content I can access is limited to YouTube and live broadcasts. This means I would not have a clear perspective of comparing how Damon Hill and Lewis Hamilton are covered, which would make applying these theories difficult in when I come to analysing my main findings.

Methodology

Looking into different methodologies, I found that a rhetorical analysis was my preferred methodology over content analysis. This would help me to maximise my findings for my comparative analysis of both texts.

Justifying my use of rhetorical analysis is that I’m focusing on convergence and how it’s shaped the way Damon Hill and Lewis Hamilton are covered in the BBC and Sky’s coverage respectively. Kolodzy (2006) explains the use of cross-promotion (now cross-media) and how that raises certain issues such as diversity, independence and control, which raises questions on how the BBC and Sky cover both drivers.

With content analysis, this would limit the scope of how I would interpret my findings whilst using a comparative analysis. Content places emphasis on samples and recognisable categories for media output (Long & Wall, 2012), which would limit my interpretation of what I’ve found as it’s focused on gathering audience data.

Explaining what rhetorical analysis is as a methodology, it’s defined by its two terms, rhetoric and language. Rhetoric is how language is constructed and manipulated to a particular purpose. Language is the basic material out of a single instance of communication being created from words and phrases (Long & Wall, 2012).

Issue(s) of Debate

Looking into the broader issues of debate, one of the most important issues is convergence and how it plays a role in how Damon Hill was covered in BBC’s coverage in 1996 to today with Lewis Hamilton with Sky in 2015. With the emergence of multimedia in news in the 90’s, this has challenged what was considered to be once separate, but equal notion of news (Kolodzy, 2006).

With F1 coverage now on Sky, we’re seeing forms of media such as traditional and online being converged. However, convergence journalism relies on similarities in values and goals, which is a relatively new area with studying sports journalism in media studies, particularly F1 (Kolodzy, 2006).  It’s how modern journalists use that foundation regardless of how audiences consume news, which would make it difficult for me to find reliable data.

When the BBC covered F1 in 1996, Bourdieu’s (2005) conception of power is held by those who have economic and cultural capital. So the power is circulated across and within different fields of influence (politics, journalism) (Phillips, 2009). For example, there’s a postmodern approach towards how Damon Hill was covered in that year, compared to Lewis Hamilton today on Sky.

With using a rhetorical analysis for both texts, this would enable me to analyse and challenge how convergence has shaped the way that Damon Hill and Lewis Hamilton were covered on the BBC and Sky. However, there are limitations with using a rhetorical analysis because it’s very subjective, which would mean it can be open to other forms of interpretation from media scholars. As it’s an original piece, there’s questions over the reliability of sources. For example, the Telegraph’s coverage of the HSBC bank scandal (2015), where the broadsheet didn’t cover the scandal, leading to the resignation of Peter Oborne.

Main Findings

In terms of watching the BBC’s and Sky’s coverage of F1 and how Damon Hill and Lewis Hamilton play their part in both broadcasts, I found some stark differences between both broadcasters in how they cover both drivers respectively.

Since there is a seventeen year gap between the BBC’s coverage from 1996, which had a ‘low budget’ feel compared with Sky Sports in 2015 with their ‘big fight’ approach to covering the sport. In the late 90s, F1 was seen by millions of viewers on the BBC at a time where new media was a novelty back then.

Since the late 70’s, F1 was broadcast for the large majority on the BBC where there was a large majority of viewers who watched the Grand Prix delayed or live. Kolodzy (2013) explains that news media outlets pay little attention to what’s growing, which is similar to what’s happening with F1 with the rights being split between the BBC and Sky. Younger audiences are rejecting traditional forms of watching sport via subscription for online.

Whilst it was accepted that F1 fans would watch a 2 hour race in 1996, today there’s fewer young people that watch F1. This is due to younger audiences rejecting traditional forms of news media such as print and broadcast television and replacing it with subscription free online services (Kolodzy, 2013).

Back then with the BBC in 1996 when Damon Hill was challenging for the World Championship with Williams, there was massive interest in the traditional print and broadcast media for a British world champion. However, the interest seventeen years ago isn’t fading away, how the content was distributed at the time was very different with the advent of four channels and print media (Kolodzy, 2013).

How the commentary worked in 1996 was there was hardly any social media platforms, which meant audiences passively believed what was taking place on-track. Using narrative discourse, which Chatman (1978) explains is a communicative mission. This goes from a sending position (the implied author) to the receiving position (the implied reader). Similarly, this is how audiences react when F1 is on their television screens (Carr, 2006).

The dominating voice of Murray Walker guides you through the race as he gave viewers regular information about the circuit (Suzuka, Japan) and keeping them updated during the duration of the race. His use of cliché’s and alliteration such as “Unless I’m very much mistaken” were popular with fans alike as audiences were watching and listening to the Grand Prix.

However, the reader who is consuming the text has no interaction due to the fact that the way the communication is shaped is by the authors and not the readers to interact with the results that are happening during the duration of the race (Carr, 2006).

Gamification wasn’t even considered a concept in 1996, but loyalty and consumerism has had a long and varied history with the advent of urban centres in the 19th century (Cunningham & Zichermann, 2011). Fans who watched the sport in the 80’s will have a huge amount of loyalty with watching F1 through traditional and new news mediums. A major flaw with loyalty is if F1 fans who consumed F1 twenty years ago, they would not be as loyal following the sport today with how it’s changing and evolving.

Whilst on the other hand with how Lewis Hamilton shapes Sky Sports’ F1 coverage in 2015, the coverage has evolved over the last seventeen years with the way F1 is covered, not only on TV, but on other media. This is because of how F1 content is shifted from traditional print and broadcast media to online. Dwyer (2010) questions how new information and communication technologies in the 21st century are leading to the splintering of civil discourse of public sphere information.

With the BBC’s coverage of F1 in 1996 being centred on Damon Hill’s World Championship fight with his Williams team mate Jacques Villeneuve. Sky’s coverage focuses on Mercedes’ driver Lewis Hamilton as the current double World Champion and how F1 evolved seventeen years later as a mass televised sport.

Looking at this from a postmodernist point-of-view, there have been two great versions of media analysis. For instance, with the BBC’s F1 coverage in 1996, audience interaction was undeveloped compared to Sky’s current coverage with Lewis Hamilton. Marshall McLuhan’s explanation of how electronic media inaugurates with planetary communications, which leads into the postmodern mental effect of new technologies (Baudrillard, 1988). This is often the case with media being converged and implemented into modern-day televised sports coverage.

Online has become commonplace for consumers to share information pictures and video to people across the world, which is what’s happening with Sky’s F1 coverage (Kolodzy, 2013). Fans of the sport want instant, up-to-date news across the F1 world. This has led to the ‘gamification of news media’ and feedback plays a significant role to ensuring Sky are using feedback from their audiences (similar to Chatman’s model) to inform their progress of where they are with their ‘multi-platform’ coverage (Cunningham & Zichermann, 2011).

Compared with the BBC’s coverage in 1996, Sky’s coverage converges traditional media and fuses photography, video and text together in their articles on their website. The postmodernity of delivering news has gone from waiting for a televised news bulletin in the evening to having the news come to you (Kolodzy, 2013). When the story broke out this week about Hamilton signing an extended contract with the Mercedes team he’s currently racing for. The choice of words “expects long-awaited new Mercedes contract” uses a metonym to create intrigue towards readers that Lewis will sign the contract at the Monaco Grand Prix next weekend.

Having eye-catching headlines such as “Lewis Hamilton stars alongside Thierry Henry”, readers from both sports (football and F1) would be compelled to read on through the entire article (Kolodzy, 2013). Importantly, having searchable headlines in the modern age of media is crucial for audiences to find the stories they want to engage and share with their friends and family.

Conclusion

Whilst investigating my findings on how Damon Hill and Lewis Hamilton shape the BBC and Sky’s coverage of F1, this helped me to find theoretical frameworks that link together with my research question on convergence-based journalism.

I explored how convergence plays a greater role in televised sport due to ‘audience fragmentation’ and how it’s being misinterpreted and misrepresented (Kolodzy, 2006). Investigating the BBC’s coverage in 1996, there was little emphasis on convergence-based journalism compared to 2015 with Sky’s F1 coverage. Sky fuses text, video, animation and graphics together, changing how news content is being delivered to audiences (Kolodzy, 2013).

Using a rhetorical analysis methodology, this helped me to explore how convergence and ‘gamification’ are used to change our F1 viewing habits (similar to Chatman’s model). Therefore, it’s rewarding players from simple user IDs into active consumers that actively follow F1 on a daily basis (Cunningham & Zichermann, 2011).

From the results I have found in this report, which has helped me to explore convergence and how postmodernity shapes the way in which Damon Hill and Lewis Hamilton are covered in the BBC and Sky’s F1 coverage respectively, past and present. However, F1 coverage is constantly changing, using a rhetorical analysis limited me in interpreting my findings, which is due to using a comparative analysis for a past and contemporary text. Accessibility of content did affect how I could fully analyse the text, meaning this report, while in a new subject will be open to other forms of interpretation.

Bibliography

References used

Academic texts used

  1. Anderson, P. (1998) The Origins of Postmodernity, London: Verso Books.
  2. Baudrillard, J. (1988), in Poster, M. (ed.) Jean Baudrillard: Selected Writings. United States: Stanford University Press, ‘Chapter 7: Simulacra and Simulations’, pp 166–167.
  3. Carr, D. (2006), in Carr, D., Buckingham, D., Burn, A., and Schott, G. Computer Games: Text, Narrative and Play. United Kingdom: Polity Press. ‘Chapter 3: Games and Narrative’, pp 30-45.
  4. Chatman, S. (1978) Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. United States: Cornell University Press.
  5. Cunningham, C. and Zichermann, G (2011), in Cunningham, C. and Zichermann, G. (eds.) Gamification by design: implementing game mechanics in web and mobile apps. United States: O’Reilly Media, Inc, USA, ‘Chapter 2: Player Motivation: Why People Play’, p20.
  6. Cunningham, C. and Zichermann, G. (2011), in Cunningham, C. and Zichermann, G. (eds.) Gamification by design: implementing game mechanics in web and mobile apps. United States: O’Reilly Media, Inc, USA, ‘Chapter 5: Game Mechanics and Dynamics in Greater Depth’, pp 77–78.
  7. Cunningham, C. and Zichermann, G. (2011) in Cunningham, C. and Zichermann, G. (eds.) Gamification by design: implementing game mechanics in web and mobile apps. United States: O’Reilly Media, Inc, USA, ‘Chapter 8: Tutorial: Using an instant gamification platform’, pp. 142–143.
  8. Curran, J. (2009), in Fenton, N. (ed.) New Media, Old News: Journalism and Democracy in the Digital Age. London: Sage Publications, ‘Part II: New Media and Democracy: Technology Foretold’, pp. 21–22.
  9. Dwyer, T. (2009), in Dwyer, T. (ed.) Media Convergence: Issues in Cultural and Media Studies. Maidenhead, Berkshire: Open University Press, ‘Chapter 2: Traditional Media Moves Online’, p65.
  10. Jameson, F, (1990) Postmodernism, or, The cultural logic of late capitalism. London: Verso Books, ‘Chapter 2: Theories of the Postmodern’, pp 55 –57.
  11. Kolodzy, J. (2006) ‘in Kolodzy, J. (ed.) Convergence journalism: writing and reporting across the news media. United States: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Part 1: Mindset: Chapter 1: Why Convergence? It’s the Consumer, Stupid’, pp 3–4.
  12. Kolodzy, J. (2006), in Kolodzy, J. (ed.) Convergence journalism: writing and reporting across the news media. United States: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, ‘Part I: Mindset: Chapter 3: Common Values, Common Goals’, pp 57–58.
  13. Kolodzy, J. (2013), in Kolodzy, J. (ed.) Practicing convergence journalism: an introduction to cross-media storytelling. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis, ‘Chapter 1: What’s Old Is New, What’s New is Old’, pp 1–2.
  14. Kolodzy, J. (2013), in Kolodzy, J. (ed.) Practicing convergence journalism: an introduction to cross-media storytelling. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis, ‘Chapter 9: The Multimedia Story: How to Help Audiences Get What They Want and Need’, pp 133, 135.
  15. Long, P. and Wall, T. (2012), in Long, P. and Wall, T. (eds.) Media Studies : Texts, Production, Context. 2nd Harlow: Pearson Education, ‘Part 1: Media Texts and meanings: Chapter 1: How do media make meanings?’, pp 33–34.
  16. Long, P. and Wall, T. (2012), in Long, P. and Wall, T. (eds.) Media Studies : Texts, Production, Context. 2nd Harlow: Pearson Education, ‘Part 1: Chapter 3: Media representations’, p122.
  17. Phillips, A. (2009), in Fenton, N. (ed.) New Media, Old News: Journalism and Democracy in the Digital Age. London: Sage Publications, ‘Part III: New Media and News in Practice: Chapter 5: Old Sources: News Bottles’, p88.

Electronic files used (journal articles, etc.)

  1. Graham, A. (2012), GAMIFICATION: WHERE’S THE FUN IN THAT?, Available from <http://ezproxy.bcu.ac.uk:2073/docview/1220997160?pq-origsite=summon>, pp. 47. (Accessed Tuesday 12th May 2015).
  2. Gill, P. (2015) Lewis Hamilton stars alongside Thierry Henry. Available from <http://www1.skysports.com/f1/news/12433/9846210/lewis-hamilton-stars-alongside-thierry-henry> (Accessed Friday 15th May 2015).
  3. Greenslade, R. (2015), HSBC and the Daily Telegraph: allegations that require answers. Available from <http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2015/feb/19/hsbc-and-the-daily-telegraph-allegations-that-require-answers> (Accessed Friday 15th May 2015).
  4. Sky (2015) Lewis Hamilton expects to sign new Mercedes contract by Monaco. Available from <http://www1.skysports.com/f1/news/24181/9846843/lewis-hamilton-expects-to-sign-new-mercedes-contract-by-monaco> (Accessed Friday 15th May 2015).

Moving Image Texts used

  1. Alboretto, J. (2014) F1 1996 GP16 JAPAN Suzuka Race BBC. Available from <http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x20ky2c_f1-1996-gp16-japan-suzuka-race-bbc_shortfilms> (Accessed Friday 15th May 2015).
  2. Sky (2015) Watch Spanish GP – Extended Highlights Online on Sky Go. Available from <http://go.sky.com/catchup/programme/content/videos/standard-videos/61aa29ec5433d410VgnVCM1000000b43150a____> (Accessed Friday 15th May 2015).

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