The Convergence Newsletter

From Newsplex at the University of South Carolina

Vol. II No. 8 (March 2, 2005)


Commenting on Convergence

By Holly Fisher, Editor, The Convergence Newsletter


When I was studying print journalism at Ohio University in the mid-1990s, no one mentioned convergence. My classmates and I saw a rigid divide between us print students and those broadcast majors. We worked on the daily student newspaper and they did the daily TV newscast—our media paths didn’t cross.


Now just a few years later, journalism schools are rethinking their training. Rather than teaching print students only about writing, many colleges and universities are teaching those print students how to take photographs and create a video clip for the Web. Throughout much of my early career, I worked with news photographers but when I took a job at a weekly paper and was handed a camera, I really wished I’d had some training in how to not chop off the tops of people’s heads.


That cross-platform training is what Missouri University is launching this fall. The Missouri School of Journalism is adding a convergence sequence for undergraduates, and even Master of Arts students will be able to focus on convergence if they choose. Students will receive in-depth study in one of the “traditional” media, yet they will gain a wide range of experience and study in convergence and working on multiple media platforms.


And a high school in Columbia, South Carolina, USA, is exploring the benefits of convergence and learning how journalism students can work together to produce more news for their school. Read more about these programs in this issue.


I don’t have a crystal ball to tell me how journalism will change and what skills we will need even 10 years from now. But it never hurts to have at least a cursory understanding of all facets of the business. You never know when someone is going to hand you a camera.


Holly Fisher is working on a master’s of mass communication at the University of South Carolina. Contact her at



Feature Articles

Call for Papers and Showcase Presentations for 2005 Media Convergence Conference

Convergence Model to Emphasize Breadth AND Depth

Professor’s New Books Provide Context for Convergence

High School Journalism Program Embarks on Convergence

Newsplex News



Conference Information

Newsplex 2005 Summer Seminars Announced

Media Opportunities and Strategies for the Multiple Media Enterprise

Midwest Political Science Association 63rd Annual National Conference


Media Opportunities and Strategies for the Mobile, Broadband Generation

Cross-Platform Media Teams

Association of Journalism and Mass Communication Educators Conference



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


Call for Papers and Showcase Presentations

Conference on Media Convergence: Cooperation, Collisions and Change

Co-sponsored by Brigham Young University and University of South Carolina

October 13-15, 2005, Provo, Utah, USA


The media convergence trend has impacted virtually all areas of media, from ownership and regulation to the practice of journalism and the training of communication professionals. As this trend spreads, there is an increasing need to explore the next generation of convergence, including theoretical conceptions of convergence, next-generation convergent media practices, and cutting-edge techniques for convergent media. 


Now in its fourth year, the purpose of this annual conference is to provide a scholarly forum for the presentation of theory, research and practice related to media convergence. Projects addressing virtually any area of media convergence may be submitted, with special consideration offered for theoretically-based submissions and case studies of organizational issues related to media convergence. A showcase of convergent media practices will run concurrent with the academic conference. With author approval, selected submissions will be considered for publication in a future book to be edited by the conference co-chairs.


For the paper competition, faculty and graduate students are invited to submit in one or more of three categories:

* Completed papers

* Proposals or abstracts of papers in progress

* Proposals for panels

The top three complete papers by graduate students will be recognized with cash awards of $300, $200, and $100.


For the Showcase of Convergent Media Process and Practices, faculty and graduate students are invited to submit in one or more of four categories:

* Hands-on demonstrations of digital media and information projects or practices

* PowerPoint, video, or other multimedia presentations of digital media projects or practices

* Software demonstrations

* Case studies (poster format with demonstration)


Submissions may address practical, theoretical, phenomenological, critical and/or empirical approaches to digital media and information technologies. All submissions will be reviewed by a jury that will consider: 1) relevance to the conference theme, 2) the quality of the contribution and 3) overall contribution to the field. 


The conference is co-sponsored by the Department of Communications at Brigham Young University, the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies at the University of South Carolina, and Newsplex, an advanced micro-newsroom training and research facility dedicated to news presentation techniques emerging from the convergence of print, broadcast and online media. Newsplex is a joint project of the USC and Ifra. The conference will take place in Provo, Utah, nestled at the base of the scenic Rocky Mountains, 40 miles south of Salt Lake City.


Papers, proposals, abstracts, and panel proposals should be addressed to:

Augie Grant, Conference Co-Chair

Media Convergence Conference

School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Carolina Coliseum

University of South Carolina

Columbia, SC  29208



Submission guidelines:

* Electronic submissions (Word or RTF attachments) are encouraged (send to

* Paper copies may be submitted: three paper copies of the submission should be mailed.

* A detachable cover page should be included with the title of the paper or panel and authors’ names, addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses. 

* Showcase proposals must include a brief description of the project or demonstration, a list of equipment needed to conduct the demonstration, names of the presenter(s), and contact information (e-mail, telephone number, and address).

* Submission deadline (postmark) is June 15, 2005.  All submissions will be jury-reviewed with notification to authors and panel organizers on or before July 31, 2005.


For registration and further information about this academic conference or the showcase, visit the conference Web site at



Convergence Model to Emphasize Breadth AND Depth


By Mike McKean, associate professor, Missouri School of Journalism, Columbia, Missouri, USA


This fall the Missouri School of Journalism at Missouri University will launch its first new major in more than 50 years, adding convergence to advertising, broadcast news, magazine, news-editorial and photojournalism. My job will be to supervise faculty and students as we learn how to “do convergence” on the job.


The journalism school faculty embraced the notion of a separate sequence more than a year ago, but with a clear directive: make sure students receive in-depth training in at least one “traditional” medium as well as the breadth of experience that comes from working in teams on multiple media platforms.


The curriculum hammered out in consultation with administrators, a diverse faculty and nervous newsroom managers (faculty supervise student journalists at the Columbia Missourian, KOMU-TV and KBIA-FM) aims to do just that. Second-year undergraduates who opt for the convergence sequence will begin with basic skills training in radio, TV and online production, newspaper writing and photography. They will also sign up for a one-hour course in the fundamentals of advertising, marketing and public relations, especially as they apply to converged media operations.


Students will then take three core convergence courses. The first focuses on reporting.  The second teaches editing and management. The third is a capstone that assigns teams to work on in-depth projects for our newsrooms or prototypes of new journalistic forms and products.


At the same time, we will require students to take at least six hours of coursework from their choice of “concentrations” developed by the existing sequences in areas such as investigative reporting, magazine design, photo editing or TV newscast producing. With six elective hours also at their disposal, they can gain even more experience in a single medium or use those credits for further exploration.


Students admitted into our Master of Arts program will have the option of choosing a graduate convergence model.


Last February, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation gave Missouri $31 million to create a center for the advanced study of journalism and its role in democratic societies. Construction will be complete in the fall of 2007 and the Reynolds Journalism Institute will become the convergence sequence’s new home. Students, faculty and visiting professionals will work in the Futures Lab, an experimental newsroom and testing facility modeled in part on the Ifra Newsplex in Columbia, S.C. The Reynolds grant also provides funds to hire additional convergence faculty.


Until then, the new sequence will share lab and classroom space with our broadcast news colleagues and borrow heavily on the time and talents of existing faculty.


The convergence launch comes at a time when Missouri is already deeply involved in transforming its curriculum as a charter member of Apple Computer’s Digital Campus initiative. A year ago, we purchased wireless laptops for all our faculty in anticipation of requiring laptops for all undergrads beginning next fall. Since that time, instructors have experimented with new ways of teaching that will directly impact the convergence sequence.


One experiment involves a freshman “movie” competition that allows first-year students to teach themselves the basics of digital media with minimal faculty supervision by using Apple’s iLife software along with loaner laptops and mini-DV cameras (see As you might expect, the quality of entries in the first-ever “JFIG Challenge” varied. But many exhibited a surprisingly sophisticated understanding of visual literacy for students with no college-level journalism training. The competition was limited to pre-journalism freshmen living in dorms and taking classes together. 


A second new initiative puts these digital media skills to use in a more traditional journalistic context. Selected teachers in our entry-level news writing class also give out laptops and cameras. Some students use them to record their interviews with digital video so the instructor can evaluate body language, rapport with the source and whether the student asks the right questions at the right time. Others produce Web-based stories that include stills, audio, video, links and, of course, the written word (see


As each new student comes to campus with a wireless laptop, we’ll merge these experimental courses into the heart of the school’s curriculum. This, we believe, will allow our faculty to focus less on the ever-changing technical aspects of convergence and spend more time exploring new forms of storytelling that can re-energize American journalism.


Mike McKean can be reached at



Editor’s note: Dr. Stephen Quinn is a former professor at Ball State University in Indiana, USA. He returned to Australia in December 2004. He is publishing three new books about convergence.


Professor’s New Books Provide Context for Convergence


By Dr. Stephen Quinn, professor of communication studies, University of Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia


During the summer of 2004, I wrote Convergent Journalism (New York: Peter Lang) to try to provide an international context for convergence because convergence is truly a worldwide phenomenon. The United States may be a world leader in many ways, especially technological innovation, but it does not lead the world in this area. The most exciting developments are in Southeast Asia, South America, parts of Western Europe and particularly Scandinavia.


Juan Antonio Giner runs the influential Innovations International consulting group that publishes the annual Innovations in Newspapers report. Early in 2001 Giner reported that about 100 newspaper companies around the world were on their way to full multimedia integration. Four years later, Ifra, which serves the publishing industry worldwide, estimated that 560 publishers around the world had a “declared and major emphasis” on gathering and delivering news in a converged way. “The number of unannounced experimenters could be many times that,” the respected industry journal newspaper techniques declared.


The book is not about corporate convergence, where big companies merge because of the mutual benefits of amalgamation. Probably the best known of these was the $165 billion AOL-Time Warner merger announced in January 2000. It was touted as convergence because analysts and executives saw advantages in combining Time Warner’s content with AOL’s networks. Media analyst Gordon Pitts noted that AOL wanted a guaranteed supply of “content”—entertainment, news, sports and information—for its Internet portal, and AOL chief executive Steve Case wanted to consolidate his company’s high stock price by merging with a company with more tangible assets. The book is also not about technological convergence—the much-discussed and almost mythical box that will allow people to watch television, access the Internet, shop from home and make available a host of other possibilities.


Convergent Journalism describes the reasons that convergence is happening, discusses the business models behind it, offers case studies from around the world, and considers the ways that journalists and editorial managers are adapting their work methods to accommodate this innovation.


Larry Pryor of the University of Southern California, USA, described convergence as what takes place in the newsroom as the editorial staffs “work together to produce multiple products for multiple platforms to reach a mass audience with interactive content on a 24/7 basis.” Anything less “is not journalism convergence, in my view,” he said. I agree. Convergent Journalism argues that converged news coverage should be driven by the significance of the event. That is, the importance of the story dictates the level of coverage, and influences the size of the team involved and the depth and breadth of the reporting. In a converged newsroom, multimedia assignment editors decide on the most appropriate media for telling the story. A major city fire may require a team of still photographers, video-journalists, online specialists, and reporters. A routine press conference may need only one reporter.


Conversations on Convergence (New York: Peter Lang) grew out of a chat over coffee with my publisher, Damon Zucca. He suggested that people would be interested in the content of the interviews I conducted while writing Convergent Journalism. Conversations on Convergence consists of the transcripts of 16 interviews conducted as research for the earlier book, plus an overview of convergence.


The final book goes by the working title of An Introduction to Convergence (Boston: Focal Press). Dr. Vince Filak, a colleague at Ball State, and I are assembling a collection of contributions by Ball State faculty to describe the practical aspects of convergence. The chapters will cover such topics as: the multimedia assignment editor and producer, broadcast writing and speaking, writing for the Web, digital video photography, multimedia advertising, and multimedia public relations.


For more information on these books, contact Dr. Stephen Quinn at



High School Journalism Program Embarks on Convergence


By Lynn Washington, director of the Convergence Media Program, Richland Northeast High School, Columbia, South Carolina, USA


When I think back a year and a half ago to the first time that I took my media journalism students out to Ifra Newsplex at the University of South Carolina and was introduced to the concept of convergent journalism, the question pops into my mind—why didn’t someone develop this idea earlier?


I was impressed with the facilities but more taken with the reorganization of news gathering in the convergence model. I immediately thought—why not apply this idea to high school news? 


In high school you have the yearbook people collecting photos and information for the annual production; you have the newspaper students gathering much of the same information; and in many schools you have the third layer, media journalism students, again after the same information. This organization is inefficient and duplicates the process.


I came back to school and began talking to the people I knew needed to buy into this change: the principal, assistant principal for curriculum, the newspaper and yearbook sponsors, the media specialists, an art teacher, and the district instructional technology staff. The plans that began to develop I would label today as cooperative journalism—not convergence. 


The need at Richland Northeast High School was to offer a program that went beyond journalism and involved students from a wide variety of backgrounds, skills, and talents. The strong writers had always been attracted to print, broadcast or annual journalism. Media journalism students, in particular, were challenged to think visually and not depend just on the written word. These areas, however, still attract the same type of student.


Richland Northeast needed a program that offered more than the idea of convergence journalism. This new concept needed to incorporate a greater variety of students: one that would appeal to a diverse group of young people, typical of a large suburban high school. The program needed to find a niche for Web page designers, graphic artists, photographers, video editors, and information managers in addition to the traditional journalism students. These non-traditional journalism students would come from a broad variety of academic levels, enriching the program with their skills and talents.


A brief proposal to begin this change became a part of our district’s ImPACT grant proposal to the federal government. With some funds and support, the program began to develop. The next step was professional development training at Newsplex for some Richland Northeast faculty and staff that probably would be a part of the program. This was the point where the concept really began to take shape and the idea of convergence developed. This school year has provided an excellent opportunity to explore the convergence model before fully incorporating the program next year.


The major change will be to put together all the news gathering operations in one central location. Using several student news flow managers, the other students from all areas will be organized into news gathering groups. Each group will have a news gatherer, photojournalist, and videographer. The news gatherer will collect the information and post it to the server reserved for this program. The photographer will post several high-quality photos and the student who shot the video will upload several 10-second video clips. This demands all students, regardless of their area of specialization, become multiskilled journalists. Each student must know how to shoot quality digital photos and video and have the skills to complete a basic newspaper, video or Web assignment. 


This organization will allow the students to archive all the information for retrieval later and build a collection of data for use in news reports on the Web, morning news show, and the newspaper or photos for the yearbook. Students doing a sports summary at the end of the year will not have to revisit every coach to collect team records—it will be on the server. The potential opportunities for all these students working together are endless, and the information they will make available to the school as a whole is incredible.


The greatest opportunity, however, that this organization will give us is the immediacy of news on the school Web page. The students will be using a software program called Visual Communicator to post stories daily or weekly to the Web. This program will incorporate the information collected with photos, video interviews and clips, and graphics into their packages. 


This year we have put the students together from the three areas of journalism to cover major school wide activities like homecoming and spirit week. These same students are now learning Visual Communicator and beginning to prepare Web stories. Before school is out, we will be putting it all together and seeing how it works. 


I have learned several things already—management of the students, the collection and posting of the information and the production of the Web stories will produce the greatest challenges. In addition, balancing the convergence activities and maintaining our outstanding traditional publications could result in conflicts. It is, however, a challenge that I think will be worth all the headaches that it brings.  I do not expect the job to be easy, but I believe that the rewards for the students will be worth it.



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


By Randy Covington, Ifra Newsplex director


The spring of 2005 is a busy one in the Ifra Newsplex at the University of South Carolina. Journalists from all over the world are coming to this newsroom of the future to learn about and experiment with advanced news handling techniques.


In February, top executives from Radio Free Europe, which is based in Prague, journeyed to Columbia, South Carolina, to learn about convergence and discuss the agency's future. Also in February, students and faculty from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, USA, spent a week training in Newsplex. The visit was made possible by Amalgamated Publishers Inc., an advertising consortium for African-American newspapers in the United States.


In March, Impresa, a large Portuguese media house, will have 13 representatives training in Newsplex.  Impresa owns newspapers, magazines and the SIC television network. Also in March, a group of German journalists will visit the facility through a program sponsored by RIAS.


One of the more innovative projects in Newsplex this spring involves a coverage team made up of five USC students and five professionals who work for Media General in Florence, South Carolina, including three from the Morning News and one each from WBTW TV and Media General Interactive. 

They are training together and as a team will cover—across media—Biker Week, which brings an estimated 40,000 Harley Davidson riders to Myrtle Beach each May.


Newsplex is jointly operated by the University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications and Ifra, an international newspaper consortium based in Darmstadt, Germany.



Newsplex at the University of South Carolina Web site:


For information about our Academic Affiliates, visit






Newsplex Summer Seminar Series

College of Mass Communication and Information Studies

Columbia, South Carolina, USA


The College of Mass Communications and Information Studies at the University of South Carolina is pleased to announce the 2005 Newsplex Summer Seminars. Three seminars will be conducted in May and June, exploring Teaching and Research in Convergent Media, Web Publishing for Convergent Media and Video Boot Camp for Academics (Backpack Journalism).  Attendees may choose to attend, one, two or all three seminars. 


Who is eligible?

Any college or university faculty member who teaches courses in journalism (print, broadcast, or online). 


Seminar #1:  Teaching and Research in Convergent Media, May 16-20, 2005


This week-long seminar on Teaching and Research in Convergent Media is designed to provide college faculty with advanced training in converged media operations and journalistic practices that they can they 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.


Seminar #2:  Web Publishing for Convergent Media, May 23-27, 2005


This week-long seminar is designed to train faculty in the conceptual and practical dimensions of Web publishing. The emphasis in the seminar is on training faculty in the use of software tools used to create a Web presence in a converged newsroom. Participants will then apply these skills in a series of exercises designed to provide the foundation for comprehensive Web publishing that includes traditional text and graphics along with video, animation, and interactive content elements. All enrollees completing the program will receive a Newsplex training certificate.


Seminar #3:  Video Boot Camp for Academics, June 6-10, 2005


Video Boot Camp for Academics is a week-long seminar designed to provide college faculty with advanced training in backpack journalism with an emphasis on shooting and editing video. Participants will learn and practice skills in the acquisition and editing of video through lectures, hands on practice and field exercises. In addition, participants will be exposed to relevant research in the field as well as an overview of managing a converged newsroom. All enrollees completing the program will receive a Newsplex training certificate.


Tuition:  $750 without hotel/$1,250 with hotel (single occupancy). Discounts are available for individuals attending two or three of the 2005 Newsplex Summer Seminars ($1,400 for two and $2,100 for all three).

Tuition for the five-day seminar series includes all seminars, books, materials, etc. related to training, as well as local transportation from the host hotel, lunches and dinner. Participants are responsible for their own transportation to and from Columbia.


For more information:

More information, including preliminary schedules for each week-long seminar and online registration, is available at For more information, e-mail:, or call (803) 777-4464


Note:  Enrollment for each of the five-day sessions is limited to the first 10 registrants!



Media Opportunities and Strategies for the Multiple Media Enterprise

March 22-25

Dallas, Texas, USA


This event, sponsored by the American Press Institute, focuses on how to create and sell innovative content and information services for connected, multiple-media audiences.



Midwest Political Science Association 63rd Annual National Conference

April 7-11

Chicago Palmer House Hilton Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, USA


This conference will include a section on Mass Media and Political Communication, featuring panels and papers about the nature, origin and impact of mediated messages. The Midwest Political Science Association is a national association of researchers with an interest in politics and policy. The MPSA was founded in 1939 and publishes one of the top journals in the discipline, the American Journal of Political Science ( ), as well as hosting a national conference with over 3,000 presenters on about 600 different panels.




April 18-20

Las Vegas Hilton, Nevada, USA


Attend the premier conference and exhibition for radio, television and online news.



Media Opportunities and Strategies for the Mobile, Broadband Generation

April 26-29

Las Angeles, California, USA


How to create and sell innovative content and innovation services for mobile audiences.



Cross-Platform Media Teams

June 21-24

Reston, Virginia, USA


Sponsored by the American Press Institute, this workshop focuses on strategic thinking for a multi-platform world. Covers content, revenue and convergence for online-offline teams, departments and companies.



Association of Journalism and Mass Communication Educators Conference

Aug. 10-13

San Antonio, Texas, USA


The call for convention research papers is April 1. Call for paper divisions include advertising, theory, critical and cultural studies, history, international communication, law, magazine, mass communication and society, media ethics, media management and economics, minorities and communication, newspaper, public relations, radio-television, scholastic journalism, visual communication, civic journalism, community journalism, religion and media. 





New Books on Convergence: Publishing a book about convergence? The Convergence Newsletter regularly publishes information about new and upcoming books on convergent journalism. Send your submissions to



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


The Convergence Newsletter is Copyright © 2005 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 provides an editorially neutral forum for discussion of the theoretical and professional meaning of media convergence. We welcome 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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