The Convergence Newsletter

-- From Newsplex at the University of South Carolina

Vol. 1 No. 4 (8 October 2003)



In this Issue - Feature Articles

     And They Said It Would Give You a Brain Tumor

     Babylonian Captivity

     Newsplex News



    AEJMC Regional Meeting: Southeast Colloquium

    2003 Interactive Media Forum: Identity and Cultures in Cyberspace

    Beyond the Printed Word (World Electronic Publishing Conference)

    PNC Conference "Cultural Heritage in the Digital Age"

    4th International Summit on Newsrooms

    Online News Association Conference

    Broadcast Education Association

    The Michigan Academy Of Science, Arts, & Letters



    New Distance Learning Site

    Moving Images on E-Paper

    Northwestern Launches Web Site for Media Industry News

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     Copyright and Redistribution

     Subscribe/Unsubscribe Information





And They Said It Would Give You a Brain Tumor


Augie Grant, Ph.D.


The process of studying the diffusion of new media has consistently been aided by entrepreneurs eager to create and exploit new opportunities. Countless new media have been introduced over the last century, with some (such as the Internet) gaining a fast foothold, some (such as radio) repeatedly reinventing themselves, some (such as videotape) enjoying brief success before being supplanted by new innovations, some unqualified successes (such as television) and some outright failures (too many to list…).


This cycle was brought to mind last week in examining academic research into convergent media. Almost all such studies focus exclusively on newspapers, television, radio, and the Internet, primarily because these are the media that are implicated in today's convergent newsrooms. It may be time, however, for academic researchers to bring another new medium into the mix.


Cell phones may be the next important delivery medium for news. Two important developments support this attention. First, cell phones are proliferating around the globe, with penetration well past 50 percent in a wide range of industrialized countries. Second, the technology built into the next generation of cell phones will give these small devices the capability to deliver text, audio, video, and graphics—the same elements that make up news in today's converged newsrooms.


The similarities, however, will stop with these elements, as the social, technological, and organizational construction of cellular telephones promises a medium that will be as different from today's news media as the Internet differed from news media 10 years ago.


From a social perspective, the cellular telephone occupies a much more personal space for the user. Home phone numbers are usually public, but cell phone numbers are private. Cell phone conversations are usually private as well. (Or at least those of us in earshot usually wish they were.) Delivery of news over cellular telephones has to be designed with this context in mind.


From a technological perspective, cellular telephones can do things that other media can't. The increasing memory and processing power of cell phones will allow news services to "broadcast" news to all subscribers simultaneously, with the news being stored in telephones for retrieval at the convenience of the user. On the other hand, the increasingly small size of cell phones will prevent their use for detailed text, privileging headlines, perhaps coupled with audio and video.


From an organizational perspective, the cellular telephone industry is dominated by billion-dollar companies interested in maximizing revenues from cell phone use. These companies will eagerly embrace (and fund development of!) news services that promise to deliver a profit, but they will just as quickly drop these services if the numbers don't justify the expense. There may be a little room for independent entrepreneurs in this space, but their efforts will most likely be dwarfed by those of the mammoth cellular telephone companies.


It is important to address the delivery of news over cellular telephones now because the opportunities are still in their infancy, allowing scholars to research and define baselines that will contribute to our understanding of this emerging "mass" medium (should it thus emerge). Such study also allows a contrast for today's studies of converged newsrooms, helping to provide context for the study of convergence in general.


Perhaps more importantly, the opportunities for industry funding of research into delivery of news via cellular telephone is significantly greater than from other industries. As academics, we have a unique opportunity to not only garner support for our research but to help the industry in shaping this emerging news medium.


Futurists have recognized the potential for news delivery over mobile phones. We should now be ready to work with the industry to move these visions to reality, using all we have learned about consumer behavior, news production, and converged media processes to help create a new medium that is unique in its ability to deliver any type of content any time and anywhere.


Grant is a Visiting Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications and also serves as the Academic Liaison for Newsplex.


Babylonian Captivity


Tyler Jones


Editor's Note: The following is a summary of a paper presented at the 2002 AEJMC convention by Dr. B. William Silcock and Susan Keith of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University entitled "Translating the Tower of Babel."


So often in the study and theoretical advancement of the term "convergent media," practitioners and academics alike fail to step back and look at the big picture. Much of the research and speculation is too focused with theory and long-term assessment rather than the basic cultural and psychological differences that may arise in a convergent newsroom between print and television journalists.


In the Keith and Silcock paper, much of the emphasis shifts to the cultural problems with integrating the two newsrooms, mainly in terms of language, staffing issues, and newsroom environments.


For the purposes of their study, Keith and Silcock contained their research to the spheres of print and broadcast for content and the lengthy existence of the two media. Their research suggests that much of the cultural conflicts that exists between the two segments of the mass media are at heart stereotypical and communication obstacles.


For instance, much of the jargon used by newspaper management, such as "budget" and "editor," have a completely different meaning when applied to broadcast media. Also, Keith and Silcock state that the business of television requires a much more fast paced lifestyle that is centered on ratings, which can be calculated daily, and a competitive marketplace while print media may not have competition within their market share at all. This not only affects the content of the journalist's production, but also the behavioral patterns of the staff.


The sound of the newsroom reflects a prime example of this belief as well as the stereotypes held by one genre of media toward the other. Keith and Silcock report that when several newsrooms where converged, many print reporters complained of the noise created by their more audible counterparts. In terms of stereotypes, both sides shared a genuine inability to refrain from pigeonholing either as "tweed jacket wearing pipe smokers" on the print side and "short attention spanned, Hollywood types" on the broadcast side.


Their work styles and routines also conformed to this pattern of thinking. Most print reporters were "lone ranger types," while broadcast reporters have a constant teamwork relationship with camera operators, producers, anchors, and editing technicians.


In terms of overcoming these obstacles, the research showed that while both sides possessed a general misunderstanding of the other field's language and customs, both reported that their job made them malleable, and adopting new vocabulary was not an insurmountable obstacle. To close, Keith and Silcock present interesting insights and practical solutions to the everyday problems that arise from the cultural conflicts inherent in the converged newsroom.


Jones is a graduate student at the University of South Carolina and Editor of the Convergence Newsletter





Newsplex Fall Conference, November 6-8, 2003


The rapidly evolving media landscape is producing new patterns of media use that are having profound implications for the competitive media landscape, the daily operation of media organizations, and our understanding of the theoretical forces that underlie media use. The purpose of this conference is to provide a scholarly forum for understanding these evolving patterns of media use from a variety of perspectives, from the theoretical to the practical.


Presentations will address many areas of media practice, including advertising, journalism, broadcasting, information studies, library sciences, and public relations.


This Conference is part of USC's annual conference series exploring media convergence. The conference will also include sessions targeted at or featuring media managers and other professionals involved in the day-to-day production of media content.


Conference registration materials will be available after August 15 on our website:


For a copy of the flier listing all upcoming Newsplex academic offerings, please e-mail Newsplex Academic Coordinator Augie Grant at






AEJMC Regional Meeting: Southeast Colloquium

Media Convergence

March 4-6, 2004

University of South Florida

Tampa, Florida


Media Convergence will be the theme of the 2004 Southeast Colloquium, hosted by the University of South Florida School of Mass Communications on March 4 to March 6.


Gil Thelen, Executive Editor and Senior Vice President of The Tampa Tribune will give the keynote speech. In addition, Media General will host an open reception, giving attendees an opportunity to tour the NewsCenter, the first and largest convergence news operation in the world.


Dr. Marie Flanagan, chair of the host committee, has also arranged discounted hotel rates and compiled a web site for the colloquium:


The call for papers is November 28.



2003 Interactive Media Forum: Identity & Cultures in Cyberspace

October 27-28, 2003

Marcum Conference Center

Miami University, Oxford, Ohio


Join us for a widely diverse array of research that pushes the bounds

of interactivity into the spheres of human interaction and creativity.

At a basic level, we'll attempt to understand how people are creating,

communicating, learning, and interacting on the Internet. Beyond that,

we'll branch into more theoretical discussion on the premise of the

Internet as a virtual society with unique and characteristic cultures.


The conferences features keynote speakers Dr. Michael Heim of Heim

Seminars and Dr. H. Lewis Ulman of The Ohio State University.


Speaker topics featured in the conference will include the following:

- "Race and Gender in the Far Corners of Cyberspace"

- "These bodies are FREE, so get one NOW!": Advertising and Branding    in Virtual Worlds"

- "Using Interactive Technology to Preserve Culture"

- "Constructing Empowerment through Democratic Discourse: Cultures and

Identities of Women's Communities Online"

- "'Total Information Awareness' as a Slogan for the Left: Towards an

Open Source World"


For more information and to register, see our web site at


Sponsored by the Center for Interactive Media Studies, Miami

University. Questions? Contact conference coordinator, Christine Starkey, at or 513.529.1637.



Beyond the Printed Word: The World of Electronic Publishing Conference

October 30-31 Rome, Italy

For information:



PNC Conference: "Cultural Heritage and Collaboration in the Digital Age"

       November 7, 2003



Issues discussed include digital museums, multimedia representations of culture, multimedia visualization, and digital resources for teaching and research.


Contact: Emma Liao

    Pacific Neighborhood Consortium

    High Performance Computing Centre

    Taipei, Taiwan

    Phone: 011-886-2-2789-9380

    Fax: 011-886-2-2783-6444




4th International Summit on Newsrooms



"Expanding Convergence"

Ifra Newsplex at the University of South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.A.

5-6 Nov. 2003


News organizations are beginning to take notice of the kind of news content and functionality that today's news consumers require, and are implementing strategies to deliver on consumer demands. By analyzing users' news consumption behavior and explicit responses, news companies have learned that their readers, viewers, listeners and surfers want more interactivity, more multimedia content, more choices in news and time-shifting, and more opportunities to multitask.


Summit4 will focus on how news companies are responding to what users want, and about strategies to shift from a media-focused organization to a user-focused company. Case studies and academic research will explain the opportunities and challenges associated with the shift in focus.


For additional information, visit:



Online News Association Conference


Chicago and Evanston, Illinois, U.S.A.

14-15 Nov. 2003


This conference will bring together hundreds of online journalists for two days of professional networking and focused discussion of issues critical to the digital news industry


A banquet and presentation of the 4th Annual Online Journalism Awards will culminate the ONA conference. The awards will be presented to reporters, editors, photographers, designers, producers and news outlets that have demonstrated excellence in online journalism in the past year. Attendees will have the opportunity to question award honorees during the annual "Best of the Best" program.


For additional information, visit:



Broadcast Education Association


49th Annual Convention & Exhibition

2nd Annual Festival of Media Arts

Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.

16-18 April 2004


The BEA2004 Convention theme is Bold Vision, Fresh Thinking: Untangling

Media's Gordian Knot. The theme lends itself well to examining new

approaches to the vexing issues of media's intricate societal entanglements. Each panel should strive to seriously think about, challenge, and/or discuss the issues that arise from emerging technologies, changing regulatory policies and increasing media consolidation-and to do so in daring and innovative ways. The theme is intended as a focus for the convention, but does not imply that convention sessions must conform.


For additional information, visit:



The Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, & Letters


Grand Valley State University

Pew Campus

Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.

5-6 March 2004


The Academy is pleased next year to meet at Grand Valley State University, an institutional member of the organization since the Academy's incorporation in 1969. GVSU last hosted the Academy in 1999.


Dennis L. Wignall, Ph.D., Saginaw Valley State University, chairs the

Communication section.


Call for papers is November 6, 2003.


For additional information, visit:





New Multimedia Reporting Distance-Learning Site

The Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California,
Berkeley, has launched a multimedia reporting distance-learning Web
site. The site was put together as part of a project funded by the John
S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The project included four multimedia reporting workshops for mid-career
journalists sponsored by the Western Knight Center for Specialized
Journalism, which were held at UC Berkeley and the University of
Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication. Fifty-four
journalists from organizations -- including CNN, NPR, the Philadelphia
Inquirer, the Lawrence Journal-World, the Tampa Tribune, the San Jose
Mercury News and the Roanoke Times --attended the workshops.

The distance-learning site was designed to be used by two groups:
*journalists who participated in the workshops as a tool to train
others in their news organizations or refresh the skills they picked up
in the workshop.
*journalists who are unable to attend the workshops, but who want to
begin to learn how to do multimedia reporting.

The distance-learning site is at The accompanying story
example is at

Jane Ellen Stevens
Multimedia journalist
Instructor, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism



Scientists at Philips Research in Eindhoven, Netherlands, are developing a
new generation of "electronic paper" that would allow high-definition,
moving images to be displayed on a wafer-thin foldable screen. The images
could be overwritten each day, using a process called electrowetting, "The
reflectivity and contrast of our system approach those of paper. In
addition, we demonstrate a color concept which is intrinsically four times
brighter than reflective liquid-crystal displays and twice as bright as
other emerging technologies." (NewsScan/Reuters/Forbes 24 Sep 2003)


Northwestern Launches Web Site for Media Industry News


The Media Management Center at Northwestern University is launching with a grant from Knight. The site provides media management news from more than 1,000 media-related companies. News flows onto the site from more than 700 news sources.




For information about our Academic Affiliates, visit:


Newsplex at the University of South Carolina Web Site:





The Convergence Newsletter is Copyright © 2003 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.





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