Reading Reaction Week 13
In our Grant and Wilkinson text, Tony DeMars discusses news convergence in smaller media markets. Up until this point, we have mainly discussed the convergence of larger markets and media groups (think Disney and its ownership of movie studios, local market television stations, the ABC television network, ABC radio networks, and local market radio stations). Interestingly enough, reports show that media conglomerates lost billions attempting to position themselves to incorporate technological convergence with the Internet (DeMars, 2009). A statement made by David Geffen, cofounder of the DreamWorks movie studio, caught my attention… “Convergence may be the most expensive word in history” (Landler & Fabricant, 2002, p. 1). I find this to be an intriguing thought because in our studies I have formed the opinion that the cost of ignoring necessary convergence would be much greater. Isn’t that why we’re focusing on convergence in the first place? In a world where money talks, is it any wonder that convergence is the hottest ticket for the communication industry?
Tony DeMars gives us two factors that stand out in the convincing of news managers to engage in convergence activities (DeMars, 2009). The first of the two factors is the increased competition within the local news markets (DeMars, 2009). Competition is inevitable in any field. In my opinion, it’s what keeps fields fresh and innovative. It’s what forces companies to constantly recreate old ideas and traditions into new and exciting ways of doing things. Without the driving force of competition, I think the news industry would be much less inclined to accept the idea of convergence. Subsequently, the news industry would most certainly become lack luster to say the least.
The second of the two factors is an extension of the changing dynamics of new technology within the field (DeMars, 2009). This new dynamic is a direct component of the change that is taking place within many of our fields. The demand of the public for new presentation styles and interesting new graphics is an example of the necessity of convergence. Nowadays, it takes a presentation of news that is able to incorporate all of these new technologies in order to keep the audience’s attention.
In an evaluation of how well journalists were adapting to convergence, the vast majority indicated that they were positively influenced by the convergence of their newsrooms (DeMars, 2009). Most of the journalists said they believed the quality of their work and the quality of their produced material had improved either somewhat or had greatly improved. As we talked about in previous chapters, I believe one of the most vital components of this equation is the managers of these convergence projects. If the managers do a good job during transition, the sense of unity and the benefits of their team work can be a wonderful combination. So how is it that the effects of these convergences are easily recognizable and yet the concept of convergence is still somewhat questioned and still not universally accepted?
In chapter 13 of the Grant and Wilkinson text, Susan Keith and B. William Silcock share ideas for future research in media convergence. Keith and Silcock conducted interview-based research on the journalists at two of the most highly publicized convergence partnerships (Keith & Silcock, 2009). The research consisted of personal interviews with actual staff members of the converged newsrooms. The study revealed the struggle of print media journalists to learn the broadcast media jargon and slang used to describe daily activities around their newsroom. And likewise, broadcast media journalists had to learn new things about their newsroom and the language they used. Gil Thelen, the former publisher for The Tampa Tribune said, “…However, in the grander scheme of convergence… language confusion was not ‘deep and profound’; it was ‘more operational’” (Keith & Silcock, 2009, p. 223). I think the most important thing for new graduates is that they are cross-trained to work in several areas of journalism in order to increase their usefulness in the field.
Keith and Silcock go on to say that, “These findings about the structure and economics of partnerships suggest several opportunities for future research that might fill gaps in our understanding of convergence.” (Keith & Silcock, 2009, p. 225) I think this is an important piece of the convergence puzzle. I don’t think there has been enough in-depth research from the perspective of a journalist in the process of convergence in a newsroom. Further research into the cultural differences of newsrooms might make for better understanding and thus, better communication between converging newsrooms. Better communication and more understanding would promote a smooth transition between the two or more converging newsrooms. Again, I really think cross-training is the key in all of this. I think the most important thing for new graduates is that they are cross-trained to work in several areas of journalism in order to increase their potential advancement in the field. Cross-training will increase understanding and tolerance of different types of media, which in turn would make the convergence process flow more smoothly.
DeMars, T. (2009). News Convergence Arrangements in Smaller Media Markets. In A. E. Grant, & J. S. Wilkinson, Understanding Media Convergence: The State of the Field (pp. 204-219). New York: Oxford University Press.
Keith, S., & Silcock, B. W. (2009). Beyond the “Tower of Babel”: Ideas for Future Research in Media Convergence. In A. E. Grant, & J. S. Wilkinson, Understanding Media Convergence: The State of the Field (pp. 221- 233). New York: Oxford University Press.
Landler, M., & Fabricant, G. (2002, August 4). A tortoise, many hares and a web of convergence. The New York Times, C1.