The Convergence Newsletter

From Newsplex at the University of South Carolina

Vol. II No. 2 (Aug. 4, 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


Students blog Democratic Convention; receive rave reviews

Conference offers moblog training

Researchers prepare to publish books on convergence

Newsplex names new director

Newsplex News


Conference Information


Digital Revolution Conference

Society of Professional Journalists National Convention

National Federation of Press Women National Convention

Convergence: The Tour

Convergence for Teams: Visions & Values in Action

Fall College Media Convention




Checklist for building the ideal news Web site



---------------Feature Articles

Students blog Democratic Convention, receive rave reviews


By Holly Fisher, Editor, The Convergence Newsletter, and University of South Carolina graduate student


The Democratic National Convention gave journalists a chance to try blogging in a big way. But rather than just reporting what the politicians said, one moblog in particular, provided some out-of-the box coverage.


The Newsplex/Cingular Wireless Election Connection was produced by U.S. journalism students, University of South Carolina faculty and Newsplex staff. Cingular provided the Motorola V-400 camera-equipped mobile phones and provided the enhanced moblog site. The URL for the coverage is, and the coverage will be accessible through the end of August when the coverage of the Republican National Convention will be added.


The site has hundreds of photos, captions and short stories covering the many political speeches and protests as well as the reaction of Boston residents, the convention’s impact on local business and efforts to register the city’s homeless population to vote. The postings are innovative, offering news and perspectives most major news outlets didn’t cover.


The student reporters came from around the country: The University of South Carolina sent undergraduate journalism school students Kent Babb, Adam Beam, Allyson Bird and Mary Pinckney Waters; Emerson College sent Drake Lucas and Diana Schoberg; and Northeastern University sent journalism master’s degree students Amy Harding and Becky Venne.


The Wireless Election Connection attracted attention for its original coverage. Technorati CEO and contributor Dave L. Sifry called the project “one of the surprise hits of the weblog coverage here at the convention.”


Even The National Business Review of New Zealand posted images from the Wireless Election Connection site. Lost Remote TV Weblog posted a blurb, quoting Randy Covington, the newly appointed Newsplex director who was working with the students in Boston: “As I watched the networks this morning, they were flogging the same three or four stories. Thanks to our mobility, we are generating more stories and posting them with the immediacy of broadcast."


Not only did the project garner local and national exposure, it gave college journalism students an incredible reporting experience. They covered the convention from every conceivable angle. The moblog has more than 400 posts. Most are quick photos snapped with a camera phone and accompanied by a one- or two-sentence caption. The site also features slightly longer essays, giving the reporters a chance to expand on the day’s news.


Editing, organizing and generally fleshing out the moblog back in the Newsplex were University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications faculty members Doug Fisher, who served as the newsflow editor, and Ernie Wiggins, the chief story builder, as well as Newsplex resident newsresourcer, Geoff LoCicero. Scott Farrand and Marc Rapport, also on the USC journalism school faculty, served as storybuilders, as did USC journalism school doctorate student Bryan Murley.


Also assisting on the newsresourcing team were Sally Cumberland, Patricia Donovan, Kevin Eaves, Ann Harenda, Elizabeth Hipp, Doug McGuirt, Juli McLaurin, Erin Phipps, Jessica Sifford and Jordan Storm, all participants in Camp Carolina, a summer boot camp for incoming USC journalism school master’s program students. Overseeing the technology for the project was Kerry Northrup, on loan from his new duties as director of publications for Ifra. Julie Nichols, Ifra Newsplex projects director, provided behind-the-scenes coverage.


Everyone worked together to bring a fresh perspective to this major news event. While traditional convention coverage—political speeches, security concerns and protests—was part of the weblog, other less traditional stories made the convention seen more interesting and gave it a human touch.


Reporters interviewed Boston residents about the convention and their opinion of John Kerry as their home state senator. They interviewed delegates from around the country, including those from South Carolina, while also talking with Boston residents and business owners to find that many residents left the city for the week.


One particularly poignant series focused on the homeless in Boston. Next to a photo of a man sleeping on a park bench not far from the FleetCenter was the headline “Homeless in Boston don’t go away for convention.” The student reporters spoke to some of the city’s homeless and the article included links to information on National Homeless Voter Registration Week Sept. 26 to Oct. 2 and links to national statistics on the homeless population.


Journalist Amy Harding also spent a great deal of time following 13-year-old Kristen Turner who won the Democratic National Committee’s Gavel in the Future Essay Contest for her work “I’m Not Too Young.” Kristen banged the gavel to signify the beginning of the convention.


A new group of students from Columbia University and the University of California-Berkeley will be heading to New York City to cover the Republication National Convention Aug. 30 through Sept. 2 for the Wireless Election Connection at


>>Coming next month: Be sure to check out the September issue of The Convergence Newsletter for more coverage of the Wireless Election Connection’s work at the Republican National Convention and hear from the moblog journalists about their experiences, what worked and what didn’t.



Conference offers moblog training


By Dr. Augie Grant, Executive Editor, The Convergence Newsletter, and Associate Professor, College of Mass Communications and Information Studies, University of South Carolina


The Digital Revolution: The Impact of Digital Medial and Information Technologies conference is coming up Oct. 14-16 in Columbia, South Carolina, USA. Hosted by the University of South Carolina, the conference will feature discussions of social influences, media practices, integrated information systems, cultural issues, legal implications, information needs and effects upon consumers.


As an added bonus, conference planners have added a special feature to this year’s conference: Thursday morning, Oct. 14, there will be a mini-Newsplex training session beginning at 8:30 a.m., including an overview of “roles training” in convergence media and the process of creating multimedia moblogs.


Those participating in the training will create and maintain a moblog for the conference, using the Newsplex tools. There is no charge for the training, but registration is limited to the first 15 people who confirm they will be attending the training. To register or for more information, e-mail Augie Grant at


An abbreviated schedule for the conference follows. For a complete listing of conference presenters, visit


The Digital Revolution:

The Impact of Digital Media and Information Technologies


Thursday, October 14—Ifra Newsplex at the University of South Carolina

8:30      Newsplex Moblog Training (Free seminar; limited to 15 attendees.)

1:30      Welcome and Conference Overview

1:45      Showcase Session #1:  Classroom Innovations

3:00      Showcase Session #2:  Innovations outside the box

4:30      Showcase Session #3:  Tools for Innovation:  Hardware and Software


Friday, October 15, 2004, Clarion Townhouse Hotel

9:00      Industry Adaptations to Digital Technology

10:30    Audience Analysis and Consumer Behavior in the Digital Era

Noon     Lunch and Conference Keynote Speaker

1:30      Small Media; Big Impacts

3:00      Legal and Regulatory Issues

4:30      Organizational Challenges

7:00      Reception


Saturday, October 16, 2004  Clarion Townhouse Hotel

8:30      Critical Perspectives on Convergent Media

9:45      Media Without Borders! Practical Advice for Designing an Introductory Skills Course for a Convergence Curriculum. 

11:15    Lessons from Newsplex

12:30    Conference Adjournment



Researchers prepare to publish books on convergence


Convergence has found a place in our newsrooms and classrooms, but that doesn’t mean all journalists, student and educators have it all figured out. But more and more books about convergence are popping up to help explain the phenomenon—from books on applying convergence to your newsroom to textbooks for students eager to learn about converged newsrooms.


The Convergence Newsletter, this month, highlights just some of the many books covering the topic of convergence. If you are aware of other books about convergence, please share them so we can publish information in future newsletters. Send your suggestions to


===Deb Halpern Wenger from Virginia Commonwealth University and Ken Killebrew from the University of South Florida are writing a textbook for McGraw-Hill that approaches convergence primarily from the broadcast perspective.  This textbook, scheduled for release in late spring 2005, includes the fundamentals of writing for broadcast, but it also includes chapters on multiplatform story planning, print-to-broadcast writing, broadcast-to-print writing and a chapter on writing for the Web. 


The idea is that many schools and texts focus on the fundamentals of print journalism—and then throw in a few mentions about broadcast and the Web.  This book starts with the premise that broadcast journalism is also a worthy starting point, and that students or journalists already well versed in print might find it a helpful text for broadening their journalism skills. The text will describe several models for convergence with the understanding that every newsroom adapts the models to fit its own unique situation.


It also will have access to a Web site that will include periodic updates for several sections of the text that refer to issues that are constantly evolving, such as FCC regulations. But the book is not all academic; it will feature profiles from converged journalists who are in the trenches, doing this work every day.


===The Broadcast News Process (7th edition by James Redmond, Fred Shook, Dan Lattimore and Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann) is a beginning text for students interested in working in the electronic news media. The book focuses primarily on the writing and reporting techniques necessary for journalists working in the electronic news media industry.


The book also addresses legal and ethical issues as well as offers several assignments, review questions and critical thinking questions for each chapter. The 7th edition will also feature a CD-ROM that includes actual broadcast news reports, video interviews with professionals in the business and scholars of the electronic news media. The book is published by Morton Publishing in Denver, CO, and will be available fall 2005.


===Rachele Kanigel, an assistant professor of journalism at San Francisco State University, is writing The Student Newspaper Survival Guide, a handbook for college journalists, for Blackwell Publishing. The book will offer advice on all aspects of student newspaper publishing from reporting and editing to photojournalism to page and Web design to business management and ad sales.


Kanigel is planning to devote a section of the book to convergence and will interview students and media advisers from colleges and universities with convergent news operations. (Converged student publications that are willing to share what they've learned can contact her at


"While convergence is a big buzzword in journalism education, few student publications are actually putting it into practice," Kanigel says. "I want to show examples of cutting-edge convergence at the college level so that students at other schools can see just what can be done using readily available technology."


===From newsrooms to sales departments to Internet sites and converged "information platforms," the business of information has changed and continues to change dramatically. In Managing Media Convergence: Pathways to Journalistic Cooperation, author Kenneth Killebrew, assistant professor and director of graduate studies in the School of Mass Communications at the University of South Florida, Tampa, examines media management from a fresh perspective, exploring how to best manage creative people in times of change.


This new addition to Blackwell Publishing's Media and Technology series discusses the role of the journalist/broadcaster and other creative people charged with providing information in newly emerging cross-platform environments of converged media. By investigating creativity—coupled with notions of power, convergence, the changing work environment and traditional management methods—Managing Media Convergence unravels the dilemma of how to retain highly creative people. The necessary skill sets to achieve in a converged media world—of those who would manage and those who would be managed—are clarified and contrasted against traditional organizational approaches. Managerial expediency, efficiency, and effectiveness are considered through discussions of best practices and case studies.


With the bottom-line focus of today's media management on increasing profits and cash flow, Managing Media Convergence shows how workers and managers can successfully meet the challenges of the new media workplace.


This paperback text is now available for backorder.



Newsplex names new director


By Holly Fisher, Editor, The Convergence Newsletter, and University of South Carolina graduate student


Randy Covington has been highly involved in the training at Ifra Newsplex, a multimedia journalism training facility at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina, USA. Now he’s taking that involvement to a new level as he assumes the position of Newsplex director.


Covington, a former television news director in Columbia, Philadelphia, Boston and Houston has been with the University of South Carolina since 2001 serving as the director of advancement in the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies. Newsplex, the university’s news laboratory, offers multimedia training for journalists from around the world. USC has provided seminars for journalism faculty at Newsplex as well as courses and programs for USC students.


“This is a really an exciting time to be working in new media,” Covington says. “Newspapers are losing readership and television is losing viewers while consumption of new media is exploding.”


Covington started his career in the print industry but spent most of it working in television. Although he believes his visual communication background is helpful in convergence training, Covington says he no longer considers himself a “TV journalist.”


He says the labels of “print” and “broadcast” are outdated. “For forward-thinking organizations, video, sound, slide shows should be—and quite frankly, are—part of what they do everyday,” Covington says.


“I watched how TV news expanded and matured into a strong journalistic medium, and I see the same thing happening in new media,” he adds. “If I were a young person coming out of school, this [new media] is where I would want to be.”


Covington will remain an assistant professor at USC and says his highest priority is bringing Ifra, Newsplex and the university together, noting that all three are more successful when they converge.


He plans to involve the university in more Newsplex training. New media training will add a dimension to the School of Journalism & Mass Communications’ continuing education.


Covington’s second goal as the new Newsplex director is to increase the range of training at Newsplex, particularly domestic training. Already the spring academic seminars have been expanded to four sessions for 2005, compared to one this year. Covington also envisions hosting some shorter training sessions for local and regional journalists.


The goal is to make this not something just for major newspapers or large media companies, he says.


Shortly after the announcement of his promotion, Covington expressed his excitement over taking the reins at Newsplex.


“Convergence is a reality. Most Americans, each day, derive their news and information from a wide variety of sources,” he says. “This is an opportunity to be in a facility like Newsplex. It’s a cutting edge facility where we’re trying to figure out how news consumers of the future can best be served.”


Covington succeeds Kerry Northrup, a USC alumnus, who was responsible for creating Newsplex and bringing it to South Carolina. Northrup is taking on new responsibilities as Ifra Director Editorial with the European-headquartered press consortium. 



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


By Julie Nichols, Ifra Newsplex Projects Director


Distinguished Visitor—The Newsplex welcomed Seth Cropsey, director of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), to Columbia at a reception July 22. Under the supervision of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the IBB provides the administrative and engineering support for U.S. government-funded non-military international broadcast services.  Broadcast elements include the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Sawa, Radio and TV Martí (Office of Cuba Broadcasting), and WORLDNET Television and Film Service. In addition, the IBB provides engineering and program support to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia. Cropsey was a guest of the Columbia World Affairs Council, and the reception was sponsored by local newspaper The Columbia Star.


Newsplex at the University of South Carolina Web site:


For information about our Academic Affiliates, visit






A Conference on The Digital Revolution: The Impact of Digital Media and Information Technologies

Oct. 14-16, 2004

Location: University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA

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 presentations will address theoretical and practical examinations of digital photography, video, information archives, telephony, consumer electronics and information infrastructure.



A Showcase of Digital Media and Information Projects and Practices

Oct. 14-16, 2004

Location: University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA

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.



Society of Professional Journalists National Convention

Sept. 9-11

New York City, New York, USA

Convergence 101 is one of the sessions presented as part of a pre-convention training program Convergence 101 will look at ways to ground convergence in good journalism and how to plan a multimedia story. The full convention also will have sessions on convergence, including blogging tools and a look at the best convergence models in journalism.



National Federation of Press Women National Convention

Sept. 9-11, 2004

Lexington, Kentucky, USA

Convergence will be one of the topics covered during the National Federation of Press Women’s national convention next month. Other topics to be addressed include freedom of information, freelancing, interviewing, photojournalism and career development.



Convergence: The Tour

Oct. 19-22, 2004

Location: Sarasota, Tampa, Melbourne—Florida, USA

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, Florida, USA

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.



Fall College Media Convention

Nov. 4-7, 2004

Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Convergence and online journalism are just two of the many topics that will be addressed at the Fall College Media Convention, sponsored by the College Media Advisors.





Checklist for building the ideal news Web site

Source: Editor & Publisher (

By Steve Outing (July 20, 2004)


If I was CEO of the online-news world (instead of a lowly industry pundit), most news Web sites would look different than they do today.


That's not to say that there aren't some excellent news sites out there. It's just that none (that I'm aware of) bring all the elements together to create the ideal specimen.


Here's a list of ideas for how news sites could do things differently. Some of these notions are mine (based on years of covering this industry as a journalist, researcher and occasional consultant); others come from top consultants and academics who I've enlisted in this advice-fest. (I avoided asking people who currently manage or work at online-news operations; this column is about ideas that are out of the current industry mainstream.)


Read the full story at



---------------Interesting Links


Getting out the blog – The Democratic National Convention ended last week and the Republications are gearing up for their gathering in New York City at the end of the month. “Vote” doesn’t seem to be the four-letter word of the conventions; instead “blog” is the buzz. From Dave Berry to MTV to the Associated Press, blogging is a new perspective to the traditional conventions. Even our own University of South Carolina and Ifra Newsplex are on the blogging bandwagon (see above story). has a list of journalists who blogged the Democratic Convention at



Is blogging journalism? – That’s just one of the meaty questions found at With the tagline “practical issues and real solutions for working editors,” this blog tackles some interesting issues—readership, staff changes, convergence and weekly supplements.



---------------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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