Multimedia technologies in online quality media: The New York Times and Russia Beyond the Headlines

Milana A. Vinn

Scientific supervisor PhD, assoc. prof Kamilla R. Nigmatullina

Abstract: The article defines the concept of multimedia, mediated public, and new genres of multimedia journalism. The author identifies the results of multimedia elements analysis in pieces from The New York Times and Russia Beyond the Headlines, and strategies for their use.

In Russian

Today multimedia development strategy is important in traditional and new media. The New York Times 2014 internal report, which inadvertently hit the Internet, states in the paragraph “While at work no one has time for a strategy” that the development of technologies and new capabilities must always take place in the long-term planning of publications (6). Many Russian and foreign researchers have dedicated their work to the same issues. They all spoke about the relevance of studying the convergence of multimedia and media.

The purpose of multimedia content in mass media is about the efficiency and competitiveness of current online journalism as well as attracting new audiences. Multimedia technologies not only affect the presentation of information, its “package”, but also the content. The visual language is accessible to everyone: infographics clearly explains to a user the complex numerical data; “Timelines” are oriented in the time space of the narrative; Interactive maps organize a virtual tour that allows the user to explore the area; photo, video and audio evoke emotions, stimulating personal perception. At the same time, the availability of multimedia publications, their content and form, implies the universalization of quality media.

An important role in multimedia journalism is the function of interactivity, which increases the freedom of consumers to choose and change the information content.

In this regard, the very notion of an audience for online publications has undergone a transformation. Denis McQuail – professor at the University of Southampton in the UK – in his publications replaced the word “audience” with “mediated public”. In his interview to “Media Trends” he explained this change as follows: “Today, this approach is not possible for the audience as it is no longer a homogeneous social mass. People with various social statuses consume new media content. “Mediated public” – is a term that is not associated with a place in society and technology. Today we are given a huge communication opportunity that helps implement new technologies” (5).

The deepening of user’s interactive communication with the media content defines the strategic importance of multimedia technologies. The user’s reaction and needs dictate the “policy” of online media: user’s requests are taken into account in preparation of the content for publication, the user “estimates” the result of using interactive elements.

By multimedia journalism we mean a certain way of presenting journalistic work, media product, which is devoted to one topic, and combines multiple formats: photos, video, text, infographics, and interactive.

Despite the fact that the terminology concept of “multimedia journalism” is not yet settled, it has already been actively used in research practice, in particular in the works of G. Kachkaeva, L. Shesterkina, A. Kalmykov, E. Vartanova, Henry Jenkins.

Russia Beyond the Headlines is one of the leaders in multimedia content production among domestic (Russian) media. The permanent heading “Multimedia” ( offers publications by using different multimedia tools (photo galleries, timelines, infographics, interactive maps, and video) on different themes (nature, society, culture, history, facts and figures, and recipes).

The editor of Russia Beyond the Headlines’ media department Elena Potapova appreciates the department’s working results. However, it is recognized that in order to enter the competitive level of the world’s leading media the newsroom does not have enough staff (currently there are eight in the department) and quality library. In the expert survey the editor evaluated the effectiveness level of using multimedia technologies in Russian media – Kommersant and Meduza, as well as foreign publications BBC and The New York Times: in the video sphere our “guide” is, of course, The New York Times. This is one of the few media outlets with a printed version that is skillfully developing the direction of short documentary videos in the network. In fact, The New York Times is guiding standards in the Network of video (in format and promotion). BBC has also been called an innovator of media formats in web video.

The key point determining the efficiency of using multimedia elements is to evaluate the response of the audience. Interactive features enable to measure user’s response with “Like” and / or “Repost” in social media (depending on which function provides media, and some social media may broadcast your favorite entry). As the content analysis result of eight publications from Russia Beyond the Headlines the average number of text reposts has been calculated – 97.7 reposts to Facebook.

One of the most important criteria for ensuring the effectiveness of the multimedia article is the right choice of multimedia elements – choice, reasonable goals and objectives of the journalist, as well as the context of the published information. The study noted that the media element combined with text allows to simplify the perception of how information qualitatively affects the user’s demand.

The choice of technology is justified, according to Elena Potapova, “strengths” or profile of the context: “If we are talking about full of colorful pictures that add up to a story – it is photo-story (multimedia tool “gallery”). If at the forefront chain of events is the time (chronology), the more efficient is using the timeline. If visuals are inseparable from the text and make it a complete whole, it seems to be a “longread” (multimedia art). In addition, there is always a desire to try something new, expand the range of tools”.

Multimedia technologies have affected the genres of online journalism. It is almost impossible to find a classic report, an analytical article or news piece in quality online media now. Multimedia journalism marked the beginning of new genres: the multimedia article, feature, and infographics.

Multimedia story (article) – the journalistic piece, where the subject is disclosed through a variety of media platforms – text and audio-visuals, the unity that creates three-dimensional picture of the event (4).

Feature is a note that is different from the usual “news story” in a more artistic way including functions while information and entertainment (8).

As for the thematic variety of multimedia projects, Russia Beyond the Headlines and The New York Times use multimedia elements to illuminate a wide range of topics. We analyzed: publications from Russia Beyond the Headlines related to the topics Society, Economy, Science, Travel, History and Art; and publications from The New York Times related to Society, Travel, Investigation, Finance, Military Conflict, Sport and Cataclysm. Thematic analysis indicates that multimedia elements could be adapted to a variety of information events coverage.

The digital edition of The New York Times is one of the most popular news media network controllers with visits of 30 million people per month. The paper’s motto is “All the News That’s Fit to Print”, with the advent of the website The New York Times, this motto has been changed: “All the News That’s Fit to Click”.

The public editor of The New York Times, Margaret Sullivan in her column “Shaky Times, strong journalism” described the evolution of the digital edition: “You can feel the change within the The Times’s newsroom, where more and more emphasis is being placed on presenting the news on smartphones and tablets. That’s not always pleasant, but it’s necessary. The Times counts more digital subscribers now than print subscribers” (10).

The effectiveness of multimedia of The New York Times could be defined as the high. Eight multimedia articles from The New York Times were chosen for analysis, and the average number of likes for each multimedia piece equals 3864 likes. It is necessary to clarify that the digital version of The New York Times uses an interactive function “like”, while Russia Beyond the Headlines offers the feature “repost” to Facebook.

The study resulted in the following conclusions.

1. Multimedia technology affects not only the visualization of a story with the spectacular “packaging” and eye-catching, but also on the content itself.

2. Multimedia elements are not only illustrative, but also a valid information source. The evidence of this is the emergence of new genres of multimedia journalism – multimedia article, often referred to as “longread”, multimedia feature, and infographics.

3. With the advent of multimedia content in quality online mass media, it was possible to speak about the universalization of such media. Multimedia publications aimed at the general audience (not a narrow segment as quality publications), accessible and understandable to almost everyone, so we can speak of “mass character” quality online media and the emergence of a “mixed” type media.

Strategic use of multimedia elements in quality online media associated with other trends in the mass media sphere. First and foremost, it is “explanatory journalism” – the emergence of online media, which the aim to explain the information with the accessible presentation of news ( As well as the actual trend of broadcasting the content in a user-friendly way like mobile applications and media pages in social media.

Strategic use of multimedia technologies in quality online media – a revolutionary step in the development of journalism, which undoubtedly influenced all the stages in production and consumption of information.

However, the use of multimedia technologies is not the last stage in the development of modern journalism: rapid technological development and growing demands of the audience, respectively, in the coming decades will push mass media to conquer new, yet unpredictable, heights.


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Milana A. Vinn | 10 июля 2015