The Convergence Newsletter

From Newsplex at the University of South Carolina

Vol. II No. 11 (June 1, 2005)


Commenting on Convergence


By Jordan Storm, editor of The Convergence Newsletter


When I received the news that I would be taking over as editor of The Convergence Newsletter, I started to drop the “c” word into conversations with professors, colleagues and friends.  Although the mention of media convergence excited many, sparking long and animated conversations, others quickly dismissed it.  One person said, “Convergence is nothing new.  It’s just a buzzword.” 


This got me thinking.  What exactly are the dimensions of convergence and why do we study it?  In the August 2003 issue of The Convergence Newsletter, Daily, Demo and Spillman (2003) define convergence as “the level at which partners have a shared assignment/editor’s desk and the story is developed by team members who use the strengths of each medium to best tell the story (e.g., a multimedia project that contains in-depth text for print and Web, still photos and video, audio, graphics, searchable databases and other interactive elements).”  In the February 2005 issue of The Convergence Newsletter Fisher defined convergence as “integration,” or “news organizations working together to create a story across multiple platforms.”


While I believe both of these are good, operational definitions of convergence, I feel that our understanding of convergence should not be constrained by tight parameters of meaning.  To date, media practitioners and academics have identified many dimensions and applications of convergence; what I find exciting is that they are continuing to do so - that convergence is not a static entity.  In particular, I believe one important facet of convergence is its ability to involve the public in news-making and reporting processes. 


After reading through the past issues of The Convergence Newsletter, it becomes clear that convergence is in many ways an enabler or gate-opener to the public.  Blogs offer audience members the ability to act as journalists or news media practitioners.  In this way, the audience, or public, also become gatekeepers of information.


Other, perhaps more conventional media outlets such as local and national print and broadcast companies are soliciting more audience feedback.  Many are also welcoming and posting the public’s text and visual content on their respective Web sites (check out Kent Rickard’s piece on Blufton Today,  In these ways, convergence has enabled the public to choose content that satisfies their needs and wants.  Often these choices reflect a wider variety of issues, which makes for a better media product.


Jan Schaffer, J-Lab executive director, says what is happening is a “convergence of content creators—professional and amateur” (The Convergence Newsletter, April 2005). 


I believe the “convergence of content creators” will revolutionize the future of media outlets.  New content creators have the ability to bring a wider variety of story ideas and issues to the table.  They also have the opportunity to act as the voice of the people, which will in turn reflect broader racial, class and gender content and sources, something that has eluded many media outlets to date.  However, my predictions are as of yet unfounded.  It remains to be seen what the future of convergence is – the only thing that is known is that convergence is the future. 


I look forward to exploring this future with you throughout the next 11 issues of The Convergence Newsletter.  I welcome any suggestions, questions and/or comments on the content, or future content, of the newsletter. 


Jordan Storm is working towards a Master's of Arts degree at the University of South Carolina. Contact her at .



Feature Articles

Unions and Convergence

BEA Enters Second 50 Years Riding Convergence Shockwave

Newsplex, Media General Team Up to Cover Biker Week



Conference Information

Call for Papers and Showcase Presentations: Conference on Media Convergence

Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Convention

Society of Professional Journalists Convention & National Journalism Conference

BEA2006: Convergence Shockwave



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


Unions and Convergence


By Carmen Maye, J.D., an attorney with the South Carolina law firm of Baker, Ravenel & Bender, L.L.P.


Discussions of “convergent journalism” or “new media” usually involve issues related to the uses (and abuses) of technology or how the “new media world” will affect traditional journalism.  Less often discussed, but lurking as potential concerns, are the legal issues raised by convergence including laws regulating anti-trust and intellectual property.  One of these potential issues—the law of contracts related to labor unions—forms the basis for this article.


A focus on “who, what, when, where and why” is nothing new to journalism.  However, in a converged newsroom, those elements take on additional importance when the workforce is at least partly unionized.  For example, if the some employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, who can be assigned what tasks?  When can they be asked to do them?  When do “shared-work” assignments common in converged newsrooms exceed the labor contract?  More important, do unions and union considerations impact “good journalism” and the journalistic decision-making process?


In a converged newsroom, it is conceivable that union considerations could influence—either directly or indirectly—editorial and coverage decisions and ultimately impact the final news product to a greater degree than in a traditional newsroom.


Although to date little has been published on this topic, one commentator has observed that non-union newsrooms are more likely to be “open, flexible and collaborative.”  It stands to reason that characteristics such as “open,” “flexible” and “collaborative” have heightened value in a converged environment.  And most would agree that organizations whose workforces are at least partly unionized are—in theory, at least—inherently less flexible than non-union organizations because of conditions imposed by collective bargaining agreements.


Does this mean unions and convergence are incompatible?  Not necessarily.   But the potential impact of labor contracts cannot be ignored.  Consider, for example, the current labor contract between the Baltimore Sun and Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild.  An appendix to the contract contains a letter of understanding related to “shared work” assignments.  The letter notes that “during the negotiations for the new agreement, concerns were raised by Guild members that the Company might create ‘shared work’ arrangements that would result, for example, in reporters writing advertising copy.”  The letter essentially assures that bargaining unit employees who participate in “shared work” projects will not be asked to undertake work that exceeds the “family of skills” they normally use, and that newsroom employees will not be required to “perform work which, in the judgment of newsroom management, would be inconsistent with journalism ethics.”


The contract itself gives the publisher some flexibility in assigning or reassigning work previously assigned to Guild-covered employees.  And the letter of understanding clearly contemplates a “shared-work” environment such as that on which convergence depends.  But the letter also expressly limits management’s ability to ask employees to wear multiple professional hats—a restriction that could be incompatible with convergence.


How to define an employee’s normal “family of skills” could present dilemmas both for assignment editors striving for true convergence and for employees who do not want to weaken the collective bargaining agreement.  A print-news reporter who is happy as a clam in front of a keyboard but who clams up in front of a camera may reject on-camera reporting as not in his or her “family of skills,” even though, in management’s eyes, both require research, interviewing, writing and communicating a story.


If a cluster of employees resists shared work because it is not within their “family of skills,” might certain stories have to go uncovered?  Might other stories get short shrift?  If additional employees or resources are consistently required to fill the gaps, does that defeat the purpose of convergence?


Anthony Moor, editor of, has experienced convergence from both the union and non-union sides.  In an April 2004 article in the USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review, Mark Glaser reported Moor’s observation that unions can be an impediment to convergence because members often have reasonable fears about change.  But, Moor notes, non-union employees often are equally reluctant to change.  “We don’t have unions [at], but we still have to be careful about what we ask our staff to do, because if they don’t buy in to change, it won’t happen.”


As with many endeavors that bring change, the solution could lie in realistic expectations and in honest, straightforward communication about those expectations.  After all, underlying organized labors’ traditional focus on salary, benefits, work hours and conditions is the desire to provide covered employees with some degree of certainty.


It may be that for convergence purposes, providing employees—union or non-union—with the training they need to become comfortable with an extended “family of skills” and with time to adjust to new “shared work” expectations will enable converged news-gathering organizations to worry more about “good journalism” and less about who does it.



BEA Enters Second 50 Years Riding Convergence Shockwave


By Mary T. Rogus, BEA2006 Convention Program Chair and Assistant Professor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University


The Broadcast Education Association begins its second half-century of service to educators, students and industry professionals at a time of what has been described as epochal change.  New technology has tended to lead the way in media development, but right now technology is only one ripple in a tidal wave.  From industry structure to regulation, from audiences to delivery systems, every aspect of media is undergoing a revolution.  Clearly one of the major battlefronts in this revolution is convergence, in many cases following from major media consolidation.


Here are some facts from the 2004 State of the News Media Report:

*In newspapers, 22 companies represented 70 percent of the daily circulation (73 percent on Sunday), according to data from Editor and Publisher.

*In radio, the top 20 companies operate more than 20 percent of all the radio stations in the country; one company, Clear Channel, operates stations in 191 of the 289 Arbitron-rated markets.

*In local television, the 10 biggest companies own 30 percent of all television stations reaching 85 percent of all U.S. television households.

*Online, traffic as measured in aggregate by Nielsen and other ratings monitors shows more than half of the 20 most popular news Web sites are owned by one of the 20 biggest media companies (2004 State of the News Media,  


In addition to audience reach, consolidation is even more evident when one considers media revenue.  The following chart shows revenue distribution among the top 100 media companies for 2003 (, “Top 100 Media Companies”):


How does that consolidation translate to convergence?   Looking at 2003 revenue numbers the following chart shows the cross media ownership among the Top 10 companies in each medium:



 Crossownership of Top 10 Media Companies























Basically what the above table says is that at least one of the top 10 companies in each medium is also a top 10 in at least one other medium.  In addition if you look at the top five media companies overall—they each receive a substantial portion of their revenue from print, broadcast and/or cable, and online (, “Top 100 Media Companies”).  It goes without saying that these companies don’t operate their various media ventures in isolation—they converge operations at all levels to maximize resources and minimize costs. 


Convergence is not just happening within companies—in fact, the greatest level of convergence in news and information content and promotion is through cross-media partnerships among outlets with different owners.  According to the 2004 State of the Media report nearly 80-percent of local television stations have at least one cross-media partnership with a newspaper or radio station and 60-percent of daily newspapers are partnered with radio and/or TV stations.  This doesn’t even include the number of media outlets which also have an online presence, and as the chart below shows, only 15% of the news online sites are NOT owned and operated by one of the top 100 media companies—so that means upwards of 80-percent of news online sites are likely tied to some other medium.

                 File written by Adobe Photoshop® 5.2

Percent of Online Journalism Sites Owned by Top 100 Media Companies

source:  2004 State of the News Media


But as media companies consolidate and converge, questions of technology standards, diversity of voices in content, regulation, economics and management abound.  Right now there are multiple models of media convergence and very few outlets such as Newsplex and this newsletter for reflection or research on which work or what even defines success.  This vacuum of information creates an opportunity for discussion and research that would serve the industry as well as the academy at this time when media convergence faces a crossroads.  It creates an opportunity for those of us molding future industry leaders to have a say in which direction that crossroads leads and how these questions are answered.


BEA2006, “Convergence Shockwave:  Change, Challenge and Opportunity” hopes to join the programs coming out of Newsplex in providing a forum for that discussion and research.  Our 51st Convention, Exhibition and Festival of the Media Arts will be April 27-29, 2006 in Las Vegas, following the RTNDA/NAB conventions (otherwise known as the “World’s Largest Electronics Show”), but the deadlines for program proposals start this summer.  The deadline for panel proposals is Friday, Aug. 5, 2005 and the deadline for research papers is Friday, Dec. 2, 2005.  Information on submissions and proposal forms are available at  If you have any questions, please contact Mary T. Rogus, BEA2006 Convention Program Chair, Ohio University, or 740-593-2606.  Bring your interest and expertise in convergence to Las Vegas and help us harness the energy of change, not be stampeded over by it.



Newsplex, Media General Team Up to Cover Biker Week


By Randy Covington, Ifra Newsplex director


Myrtle Beach, S.C., is known for its sun, sand and in mid-May, motorcycles.  The annual Biker Week celebration brings an estimated 300,000 motorcyclists to the resort.  For participants, it is an opportunity to roar around helmetless in beautiful weather, buy motorcycle parts and souvenirs and generally have a good time.  For news organizations, covering the celebration can be a lot less fun.


Biker Week is big.  Not only are there a lot of participants, but the events are spread out over a large geographic area.  The story has several dimensions.  Much of it is featurish.  But two years ago, 15 participants died.  Plus the NAACP has gone to court to challenge a Biker Week traffic plan they view as discriminatory.


To cover Biker Week 2005, Media General, which operates the Morning News in Florence, S.C., WBTW TV in Florence as well as Media General Interactive, turned to Newsplex.  A group of Florence professionals went through six days of Newsplex training with five students from the University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications.  Then they joined forces to report on the 2005 Biker Week events across media.


The students blogged, shot video and stills, created slide shows and wrote newspaper stories.  The professionals also worked across media, as their schedules and deadlines allowed.  The result is a rich, multiple media experience that you can see at:


Traffic was strong for the Biker Week Web site.  Early reports indicate more than 80,000 page views for the site.  The reviews are also positive.  "We gave our news consumers numerous choices on ways to get content and it resulted in increased coverage in print and on the Web," said Harry Logan, regional editor of the Morning News.  "We hope we learn from this so that we can work closer with our Web site and television partners in the future on both projects and breaking news."





Call for Papers and Showcase Presentations

Conference on Media Convergence: Cooperation, Collisions and Change

Co-sponsored by Bringham Young University and the University of South Carolina

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

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 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.


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



Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Convention

Aug. 10-13, 2005

San Antonio, Texas, USA


The AEJMC keynote session will feature Alejandro Junco de la Vega, who heads the newspaper group Reforma in Mexico.  It publishes three papers: Reforma in Mexico City, Mural in Guadalajara, and El Norte in Monterrey.  The AEJMC plenary will focus on media literacy, and whether it has a place in journalism/mass communication education.  Special speaker will be Dr. James Potter of the University of California at Santa Barbara.  Several pre-convention workshops will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 9.



Society of Professional Journalists Convention & National Journalism Conference

Oct. 16-18, 2005

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA


The Society of Professional Journalists’ National Convention offers members and the journalism community an opportunity to reflect on the industry and to engage in thought-provoking, stimulating and hands-on training.  Reporters, editors, educators, and students from across the U.S. and several foreign nations will make this event a top priority.



Broadcast Education Association

Convergence Shockwave:  Change, Challenge and Opportunity

April 27-29, 2006

Las Vegas, USA


The BEA2006 Conference aims to create a forum for discussion and research on the issues that face media convergence today.  The deadline for panel proposals is August 5, 2005, and the deadline for research papers is December 2, 2005. 





New Textbooks Focus on Convergence


==Janet Kolodzy’s book, The Urge to Converge: Journalism in a Multiple Media World will be published   by Rowman and Littlefield in Spring, 2006.  Janet Kolodzy is an assistant professor of journalism at Emerson College.


The Urge to Converge: Journalism in a Multiple Media World provides an introduction to the basic mindset and the skills set journalists need to navigate the ever-changing news landscape of the 21st Century. It explains convergence as an emerging strategy to confront the new consumer age of journalism in which the audience is gaining new control in determining how, when and where they get news. It provides ways to understand this new strategy by noting the different ways a variety of news organizations are trying to implement it, and it examines basic reporting and producing skills needed for the development of the convergence-oriented journalist. Sprinkled throughout the book are examples and insights from practitioners working a wide range of convergence-oriented newsrooms such as ESPN,, Christian Science Monitor, Lawrence Journal-World, Ohio News Network, ChicagoLand TV, among others.  It also looks at how “citizen journalism,” and news for kids may hint at the future of convergence.


==In October 2005, the fifth edition of Modern News Editing will be published by Blackwell Publishing.  The textbook, written by Mark D. Ludwig and Gene Gilmore, has reworked Gilmore’s classic text to integrate editing for online and print publications.  The book also includes a CD-ROM filled with classroom exercises that practice the concepts taught throughout the book.


Mark D. Ludwig is an assistant professor in the Communications Studies Department at California State University, Sacramento.  Gene Gilmore, the author of the first four editions of Modern Newspaper Editing, started his journalism teaching career at Syracuse University and spent more than 20 years at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.


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




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