Transversality, Music and Journalism

3 May


Image: ‘A twitbird journalist’

Andrew Murphie defines the term ‘transversality’ as “a line that cuts across other lines, perhaps across entire fields – bringing the fields together in a new way, recreating fields as something else” (Murphie 2006) Originally used in mathematics, transversality is applied to media and focuses on the relationship between media frames.

According to Murphie, pretty much everything is framed a certain way impacting heavily on the way we perceive the world around us. In fact, we are all being framed without even knowing! What we think, feel or do is constantly being heavily influenced by the media’s powerful framings. Murphie gave us the example of the course reader as a media form that frames what we think/do in relation to the course. In order to illustrate this concept of transversality, I will be focusing on music as well as online news and journalism.

Firstly, we are all aware that the music industry is said to be dying as a result of copyright breaches and digital advancements. In this sense, it may seem as though the music industry is in fact diminishing, however advancements such as peer-to-peer sharing, iPod’s and download links are giving users various opportunities to access music. In this sense, music is in fact more alive than ever, linking listeners and producers in ways that were once not available. Traditionally, to listen to music we would go to a CD shop and purchase a CD. However, these new advancements, digitization and the shift of music to the web reveals how this traditional frame has been altered and shaped as a result of transversality. We now have a wide variety of different genres to choose from, artists are using the Internet to distribute and share their music and become known and listeners are accessing music by the click of their mouse. As consumers, we are being framed by peer-to-peer groups involved including LimeWire, Napster and Pirate Bay. The result? Music labels must now begin thinking transversally in order to continue selling records. 

The concept of transversality and the power of framing has also heavily influenced the journalism industry. Traditionally, we would access information and news through methods such as radio, newspapers, print journalism and television. Since the birth of the digital age, old mediums and digital media platforms have collaborated in attempt to mix these old frames with the new. Online news articles are perfect examples of this idea. When we view an online news article, we notice that most incorporate elements of traditional journalism such as print as well as digital elements such as video and imagery. The combination, and crossing of these two frames provides a basic demonstration of this concept of media transversality as journalists are now faced with a challenge against online users and bloggers.



 Murphie, Andrew (2006) ‘Editorial’ the Fibreculture Journal, 9 – accessed 20th April, 2012


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