The Convergence Newsletter
From Newsplex at the University of South Carolina

Vol. 1 No. 10 (May 5, 2004)

Exploring the Meaning of Media Convergence
The purpose of this newsletter is to provide an editorially neutral forum for discussion of the theoretical and professional meaning of media convergence.

We welcome articles on any topic directly related to media convergence, including academic research or information about convergence experiences in your newsroom. We also welcome information about conferences, publications and related links.

Holly Fisher

Feature Articles:

New roles in converged newsrooms

Getting Iraq War News: Were Younger Audiences Bored with the News or Bored with the News Media?

Newsplex News

Conference Information:
Editor & Publisher and Mediaweek's 2004 Interactive Media Conference & Trade Show

Newsplex Summer Seminars

Partnership for Online and Beyond: Strategic Thinking for a Multiplatform World

Convergence: The Tour

Convergence for Teams: Visions & Values in Action

Digital Revolution Conference (call for papers/presentations)

Lack of Unions Makes Florida the Convergence State


---------------Feature Articles
New roles in converged newsrooms
Editor’s Note: In this issue we continue our series looking at the four new roles in a converged newsroom. Last month, The Convergence Newsletter looked at the role the storybuilder has in a newsroom: supervising all aspects of an individual story, coordinating the reporters, photographers, and other personnel assigned to a story in the gathering of information and the distribution of the stories produced across media. This month, we look at the function of the news resourcer. Upcoming issues of The Convergence Newsletter will profile the newsflow manager and the multiskilled journalist.


The most important characteristic of these new roles is that they do not necessarily reflect individuals or specific positions in a newsroom. Rather, each of the four represents a new set of responsibilities and activities in a newsroom. In Newsplex training, individuals are assigned to each role, but, in newsrooms, the roles may overlap across individuals or may be split, with two or more people combining to serve the role.


As you read these articles, please keep in mind that there may be other emerging roles that also should be profiled. If you have identified any other new roles, please let us know so that we can address those in a future edition.

News resourcer is key information chief

By Geoff LoCicero, Ifra Newsplex News Resourcer

Charles Bierbauer, dean of USC’s College of Mass Communications and Information Studies, likes to call the position the “news sorcerer.” It’s an apt description for a journalist who is supposed to be able to conjure information from the ether, or over an Ethernet. Officially, it’s news resourcer, one of four new positions envisioned by Kerry J. Northrup, director of the Ifra Newsplex at USC, for converged newsrooms that are providing content in multiple media.


In short – this is the nut graph for those more comfortable in print, or the 30-second sound bite if you prefer broadcast – the news resourcer and news resourcing staff are journalists who specialize in information skills, not unlike a journalist with expertise as a graphic artist or photographer. It’s the best of journalism – writing, editing, news judgment – combined with the best of librarianship and information management – super searching, technology, training and content/knowledge organization and infrastructure.


As news operations increasingly adopt the role of 24/7 information providers they need a better system to further information management, accessibility, sharing, archiving and retrieval. In short, they need a chief information officer, a no-brainer of a position for most savvy businesses. Of course, given mainstream media’s aversion to change, we may need to consider the title news enforcer in order to drag curmudgeonly journalists kicking and screaming into the 21st century.


The big picture for the news resourcer’s role is how best to deal with the wealth of information that news organizations deal with – internal archives of stories, photos, graphics, video and audio; content from fee-based databases such as Nexis, Dialog or Factiva, or from free databases that lurk in the “invisible” Web not indexed by search engines; the vastness of the general Web, not to mention credibility questions about much of its content; wire service feeds; live news content gathered locally; and the finished products, whether newspaper, TV/radio broadcast, Web site or SMS message.


A second tier of information to consider would be documents, records, faxes, press releases, messages and similar content. In a truly converged news operation, with bureaus, mobile units and journalists constantly on the go, wouldn’t it be efficient to prioritize and digitize such information to increase resource-sharing and accessibility?


Looking beyond the materials and content that make up the news organization’s information, the news resourcer would want to consider his company’s knowledge. How do you find out the valuable knowledge – about, for example, the organization, how to cover a beat, the beat’s background – that resides in people’s heads? What could these journalists share with others? What will be lost when they leave? What are the many work processes, tasks and procedures that go on each day in order to get the news to the consumer? Are there standards for efficiency and consistency? What happens when one of the two employees who know how to perform Task A goes on vacation and the other one calls in sick? What happens when these tasks and procedures of a traditional news operation triple as it becomes a converged news operation? All this valuable knowledge is lost when it’s not recognized, valued, captured and disseminated.


A news resourcer must also be a technology liaison for the converged newsroom. Remember all the audio and video now filling the archives? Remember all the new tasks and procedures? Whether the stereotype of the tech-impaired journalist is accurate or not, it’s clear that as the necessity of technology increases, and as it continues to change, the newsroom will need support. And the most effective day-to-day support will not necessarily come from the IT department, despite its good intentions. When teaching new software, hardware or other equipment, journalists are often the best trainers for other journalists because they understand their needs and perspectives.


Aside from the management and technology issues, you might say the news resourcer’s journalistic function is the information beat. Like a good reference librarian, the news resourcer can track down the right piece of information in a timely fashion, primarily through the news operation’s own archives, various databases, the Web and public/government records. On larger news staffs, departments such as business/finance, government/politics and education might have their own news resourcers who specialize in those areas. The information that a news resourcer can find will add depth and context to any report or story.


The key difference in the news resourcer concept and the role of news librarians in even the most progressive media companies is that the news resourcer is clearly a journalist, perceives himself or herself as such and is perceived by his or her colleagues as such. He or she is fully integrated into the newsroom, is proactive in driving the news, has sound news judgment and can write and edit for multiple media. The news resourcer also brings the ability to search and evaluate information like a skilled librarian or information specialist.


If this sounds like a knock against librarians, it’s not. In fact, it’s another example of that old line about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. It’s an epiphany about the value of news libraries and librarians, too often underutilized in the newsroom. Historically, this was true when news libraries were called the morgue, were tucked far away from the newsroom and operated strictly as service providers. Even today, though, many news librarians, even the best ones, struggle for status in the news management hierarchy, for integration and involvement into the newsroom and for pay parity.


While most librarians would probably agree they would like to be recognized, respected and better utilized, many still prefer to think of themselves as librarians and find the value in the distinction or specialization. They don’t want to be journalists. In fact, they believe that because journalists face such a demanding workload, it is unrealistic to expect them to develop the skills that many librarians have spent their whole careers learning. They believe they can work more effectively by playing to their strengths and supporting the information needs of the journalists. This position is certainly valid.


There is no perfect model for how best to develop an effective working relationship between the newsroom and the library. Most good newsrooms already have a staff with a mix of talents and skills. With the right support and newsroom structure, journalists can learn from and develop skills sets from librarians, and vice versa – if they choose. The key is for the news operation not to work in isolation but to find areas to integrate. In this respect, the news resourcer’s job description also includes being a demolition expert and an engineer: blowing up silos and building bridges.


Getting Iraq War News: Were Younger Audiences Bored with the News or Bored with the News Media?

By Dr. David Weinstock and Dr. Timothy Boudreau, Central Michigan University Journalism Department

Two Central Michigan University journalism researchers report that younger audiences are not bored with the news so much as they are bored with the news media.


In research they presented in the Communication Division of the annual conference of the Michigan Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, in Grand Rapids, Mich., in March, Drs. David Weinstock and Timothy Boudreau found that young people in their study expressed great interest in war news but were less interested in actually seeking it out and reading/watching/listening to it.


The outbreak of the Iraq War in spring 2003 presented a unique opportunity to study how young people read/listened to/watched the news media during what the authors thought would be a time of compelling news content. They thought, in light of the increased attention this content might generate, “What better time to ask a group of people who are normally less attentive to news what they liked and disliked about the media?”


In their sample of 244 college students at a medium-sized, public Midwestern university, expressed interest in war news was high (91%), but interest in seeking out war news (75%) and consuming all of what they found (24%) were both considerably lower. Interest in non-war news hovered at 38% and more than one in four subjects (29%) admitted to no interest in any news whatsoever.


Overall, 75% of their sample spent an hour or less seeking news the previous day. Most respondents (61%) rated television as the most informative medium, with considerably fewer choosing newspapers (21%) and the Web (17%). In one of the more interesting findings of this study, 60% of the subjects reported using other media while simultaneously accessing the news. Other media they reported using included playing computer or console games, listening to music, watching television and surfing the Web.


Some of the biggest news in this study was how thoroughly interest in the Web, as a news medium, tanked. A little less than a third of those who accessed the Web for war news reported reading only the blurbs on the top level of the Web site. While 60% clicked through to the full articles, only 40% actually read them; 53% said they only scanned second-level articles. More than half of those who read the articles (55%) read at least half of the article they accessed; 40% said they read less than half the article.


Another interesting finding was how their subjects “de-converged” Web news content by selecting more traditional visual media options. The vast majority of their subjects (89%) viewed still photography at online news sites; 87% read the captions under those photos. Only 32% clicked on video links and only 22% clicked on audio links.


One reason why the more interactive content on news sites was bypassed might be that on-campus high speed access was generally limited to computers in public places—labs and the library—where playing this kind of content might have disrupted those nearby.  Weinstock and Boudreau believe bandwidth issues will continue in the immediate future, even though overall speed will increase with the addition of cable modem access to off-campus housing, since cable modem access speeds tend to diminish as more people are added to local hubs.


The two researchers concluded that high interest in war news, low interest in non-war news that resulted in low news access and consumption means the younger audience’s disinterest lies more with the media and less with the content. For this reason then, content providers need to tailor their messages to a less traditional audience that will likely want to read and process less information and very likely be paying attention to other content forms while getting their news. 


To deal with this, they suggested the newspaper industry, for example, could add more visual content to their editions and reduce overall article length. They also suggested Web media might create video and audio offerings consisting of smaller, punchier, single-quote segments rather than larger, more comprehensive pieces. Web audio and video providers might also consider using buffered, auto-run video and audio content that is complementary rather than redundant with other news material within stories.


To request a complete copy of this paper, e-mail Dr. David Weinstock at

---------------Newsplex News

By Julie Nichols, Newsplex Projects Director

It’s pouring rain as I write this, but the weather has been fantastic in Columbia this month—warm with everything in bloom. Columbia is incredibly beautiful in spring, with white and pink dogwood, azaleas in every hue, and lavender wisteria all showing their colors at the same time.


So it’s perfect timing for the Newsplex to welcome our third group of trainees from the Guardian Media Group of the U.K. Participating in Ifra Newsplex roles training are journalists Christopher Brierley, Nicola Dowling, Colm Griffith, Paul Ogden, David Ottewell and Sebastian Ramsay from the Manchester Evening News, and Jonathan Barbuti from Manchester Online. Participants from the Guardian Media Group’s weekly newspapers are Richard Butt, editor of Metro, Amanda Leigh, editor of the Stockport Express and Claire Mooney, editor of the Rochdale Observer.  


Other visitors to the Newsplex in April have included Hans Månson, editor in chief of Sydsvenskan, a newspaper in Malmö, Sweden, and Dr. Daniel Stout, a faculty member at Brigham Young University in Utah. Two student groups also toured. 


Dean Byrd, director of distance learning for SCETV, accompanied faculty members Jay Coomes and Jim Liverett and 14 undergraduate students from Isothermal Community College in Spindale, N.C., on a tour of the facility. 


The Public Relations Student Society of America’s University of South Carolina and College of Charleston chapters also held a joint meeting in the Newsplex. Tom Klipstine, a faculty member in the USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications and about 30 PRSSA members welcomed special guest speaker Randi Gatto of Newsplex directorate member PR Newswire to the meeting.


Newsplex at the University of South Carolina Web site:

For information about our Academic Affiliates, visit

Editor & Publisher and Mediaweek's 2004 Interactive Media Conference & Trade Show
May 10-12, 2004
Hyatt Regency Atlanta on Peachtree Street.
Also part of the program, the 2004 EPpy Awards Luncheon will be May 12 at the Hyatt.


Newsplex Summer Seminars

Teaching & Researching in Convergent Media

May 16-20, 2004

Location: Newsplex, Columbia, S.C.

The College of Mass Communications and Information Studies at the University of South Carolina is offering funding to underwrite the cost of faculty attendance at the 2004 Newsplex Summer Seminars on Teaching and Research in Convergent Media. The cost of the five-day session has been reduced to $500 per person. This fee includes tuition, supplies, and lunches, but does not include hotel. Attendance is limited to 12 persons for each of the five-day sessions, and one space is still available.


These week-long seminars are designed to provide college faculty with advanced training in converged media operations and journalistic practices that they can adapt to their individual programs. Through an intensive set of seminars and hands-on workshops, participants will learn and practice skills essential to working in a converged media environment, as well as studying the process of teaching and conducting research in a converged media environment. All enrollees completing the program will receive a Newsplex training certificate. For more information, e-mail Augie Grant, Newsplex Academic Liaison, at To register online, visit the Newsplex academic Web site at


Partnership for Online and Beyond: Strategic Thinking for a Multiplatform World

Skip to navigationFor regional and local markets, May 18-21, 2004

Reston, Va.

This intense seminar gathers senior executives from both Web and traditional media operations to tackle the challenges and rewards of multi-platform and interdepartmental cooperation. It is designed to boost cross-company teamwork and sharing of the core knowledge and strategies required for building lasting multi-platform news operations. The team package price (includes tuition, 5 nights hotel, most meals for two people) is $6,600.


Convergence: The Tour

Oct. 19-22, 2004

Location: TBA

Visit three of the most fully converged multi-platform newsrooms in the world in this convergence tour hosted by the American Press Institute. Meet executives and rank-and-file staffers who “do” convergence, see firsthand what convergence is all about and learn what it takes to build a converged news operation. Attendees will gain a better understanding of the costs and benefits of the various convergence models and of the nuts and bolts of structuring a convergence partnership. Tuition is $2,100 or $1,890 if you register by the Aug. 19 early-bird deadline.


Convergence for Teams: Visions & Values in Action

Oct. 24-29, 2004

St. Petersburg, Fla.

A Poynter Institute program

Companies are eager to build and discover ways to share their journalism on television, radio, in newspapers and on the Web. But many fear they will damage their core values or water down their reputation for excellence. Converged newsrooms need a practical plan that will help them strengthen their journalism, maintain their standards and reach more people. You will see the plans and best practices of other converged newsroom around the country. As a team, you will evaluate your own convergence efforts and make specific plans to move forward and you will get feedback from your newsrooms about what is working and what needs work in your convergence plan. You also will explore the ethics and leadership issues that arise when newsrooms converge.


A Conference on The Digital Revolution: The Impact of Digital Media and Information Technologies (Call for papers)

Oct. 14-16, 2004

Location: University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C.

The purpose of this conference is to provide a scholarly examination of the attributes and implications of the digital revolution, including discussions of social influences, media practices, integrated information systems, cultural issues, legal implications, information needs and effects upon consumers. A showcase of convergent media practices will run concurrent with the academic conference. Paper submissions may address theoretical or practical examinations of digital photography, video, information archives, telephony, consumer electronics and information infrastructure.


Faculty and graduate students are invited to submit in one of three categories: completed papers, proposals or abstracts of papers in progress, or proposals for panels. Papers, proposals, abstracts, and panel proposals should be addressed to: Augie Grant, conference chair, Digital Revolution Conference, College of Mass Communications and Information Studies, Carolina Coliseum, Columbia, SC 29208 or via e-mail: For more information, see Submission deadline (postmark) is June 15, 2004. 


A Showcase of Digital Media and Information Projects and Practices (Call for presentations)

Oct. 14-16, 2004

Location: University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C.

The purpose of this showcase of digital media and information projects and practices is to provide a venue for scholars and professionals experimenting with digital media and information technologies to demonstrate their systems, processes, experiments and innovations. This showcase is the demonstration component of The Digital Revolution: The Impact of Digital Media and Information Technologies, an academic conference exploring practical, theoretical, phenomenological, critical and/or empirical approaches to digital media and information technologies. 


Faculty and graduate students are invited to submit in one or more of four categories: hands-on demonstrations of media and information projects and practices; PowerPoint, video or other multimedia presentations of digital media projects or practices; software demonstrations; or case studies (poster format with demonstration)


For registration and further information about the academic conference or this showcase, visit the conference Web site at Proposals and questions about the showcase should be submitted electronically to or mailed to: Augie Grant, Conference Chair, Digital Revolution Conference, College of Mass Communications and Information Studies, Carolina Coliseum, Columbia, SC  29208. Submission deadline (postmark) is June 15, 2004.


Lack of Unions Makes Florida the Convergence State

Source: Online Journalism Review

By Mark Glaser (April 7, 2004)

When I think of Florida, my mind wanders to scenes of orange groves, Spring Break partying at beaches, sprawling retirement communities, a space shuttle rocketing skyward, hung elections and the art deco of Miami Beach. But a converged newsroom? It’s becoming a mainstay from Orlando to Tampa to the “Space Coast” to Jacksonville, all locations were some degree of cooperation exists between print, broadcast and online media.


The American Press Institute’s handy Convergence Tracker confirms the trend, with eight listings of converged operations in Florida – nearly double the number in any other state (Texas has five). So it made sense that I would be heading to the University of Florida at Gainesville to speak at the third annual Symposium on Converged Journalism last week. The question on my mind was: Why Florida? Do journalists there grow multi-platform heads?


Anthony Moor, the editor at, summed up the answer: No unions. He gave me a brief history of how the power of unions slowed down convergence efforts at his former workplace, KRON-TV in San Francisco, as well as in Rochester, N.Y., where he worked at the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper site,


Linda Foley, the president of the Newspaper Guild, says that the Guild has no problem with the concept of convergence, except when it impinges on the rights of individual workers who might have to do more work for the same pay. She told me in a telephone interview that in converged operations such as Tampa's, print reporters must make a huge adjustment to meet 24/7 deadlines and to constantly rewrite stories.


Read the full story at


---------------Interesting Links
Convergence reports – Visit to read the latest reports and surveys from The Convergence Consulting Group. Recently released is the April 2004 edition of “The Battle for the North American Couch Potato: Bundling, Internet Access, TV, VOD, PVR, HDTV, ITV, Telephony, Portals, Games, Music.”


Web Tips – Visit the Poynter Institute online for information about how to use the Web as a reporting tool at Columns are written by Sreenath Sreenivasan, a professor at Columbia University who has a Tech Guru segment on ABC-7 in New York City, and by Jonathan Dube with


---------------Copyright and Redistribution

The Convergence Newsletter is Copyright © 2004 by the University of South Carolina, College of Mass Communications and Information Studies. All rights reserved.

The Convergence Newsletter is free and published by The Center for Mass Communications Research at the University of South Carolina, College of Mass Communications and Information Studies. It may be redistributed in any form – print or electronic – without edits or deletion of any content.

---------------Submission Guidelines/Deadline Schedule


The Convergence Newsletter welcomes articles of all sorts addressing the subject of convergence in journalism and media. We also accept news briefs, calls for papers and conference announcements. Our audience is both academics and professionals, and the publication style is APA 7th edition. Feature articles should be 750 to 1,500 words; other articles should be 250 to 750 words; announcements and conference submissions should be 200 words. All articles should be submitted to The Convergence Newsletter Editor at Please include your name, affiliation and contact information with your submission.


The Convergence Newsletter is published the first week of each month (except January). Articles should be submitted at least 10 days prior to the publication date. Any questions should be sent to

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