The Convergence Newsletter
-- From Newsplex at the University of South Carolina
Vol. 1 No. 6 (18 December 2003)
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. We also welcome information about conferences, publications and related links.
Please contact us for submission guidelines and a deadline schedule.
Tyler Jones, Editor
Using NewsPlex as a Teaching Tool
Software for Convergent Newsrooms
AEJMC Regional Meeting: Southeast Colloquium
Broadcast Education Association
The Michigan Academy Of Science, Arts, & Letters
Editor & Publisher and Mediaweek: Interactive Media
New Distance Learning Site
Moving Images on E-Paper
Northwestern Launches Web Site for Media Industry News
Copyright and Redistribution
***** FEATURE ARTICLES
NEWSPLEX AS A TEACHING TOOL
Tim Brown and Doug Fisher
While much of the conversation about convergence remains unsettled, recent research has shown a distinct shift among media managers so that multimedia skills are now seen as desirable among job candidates.
One recent study reported that "multimedia production" was the second-ranked skill among news professionals (non-management staff) and editors (Huang, et al., 2003). Another found that nearly a quarter of television news managers and just under two in 10 newspaper managers said they considered convergence skills very important when hiring (Criado & Kraeplin, 2003). When those who consider it moderately important are added, the proportion rose to about seven in 10 for both groups.
The other thread consistently woven throughout recent studies is the challenge of merging clashing values, routines, language and culture, or in Gil Thelen's oft-quoted words, "cultural resistance is the biggest hurdle for converging newsrooms" (2002). This begins in the classroom, where a few studies and anecdotal reports have shown fierce resistance among some students to venturing beyond their specialty, print or broadcast (Hammond, et al., 2000; Utsler, 2002).
Those reports have tended to come from senior-level capstone classes. To examine whether attitude change is possible if students worked together earlier in their academic careers, the authors, in summer 2003, brought together their print and broadcast classes. An earlier report in this newsletter (Vol. 1 No. 2) detailed the generally positive responses from having two beginning-level classes, one in broadcast reporting class and the other in print-oriented copy-editing, cooperate on a story using Newsplex, the multimedia newsroom run by the University of South Carolina and Ifra, the worldwide publishing research and training organization.
This report discusses experiences in the second phase, bringing beginning print and intermediate broadcast reporting classes together to work side–by–side in the field and in Newsplex on a second project. This one, on Columbia’s parks system, provided many different angles. The challenge for students was to define those and determine how they would fit into the discrete media forms of print and broadcast as well as a converged form for the Web.
The students met jointly five days before going to Newsplex to generate story angles and assign themselves to different stories. But though they were encouraged to trade e-mail addresses and phone numbers and to do some preparatory work, few arrived at Newsplex having done any. The instructors offered feedback on story ideas and suggestions for finding other resources, but the bulk of each day (Monday and Tuesday) was spent tracking down sources and interviews.
Near the end of the Tuesday session, both groups convened to discuss their stories and working relationships. Keeping with the class schedules, the print students had to have a first draft of their stories by the end of the day. The broadcast students did not have to complete their newscast until the end of the week but were expected to contribute to their print partners’ stories. Some did, though many broadcast students commented, in essence, that their print partner "told me that I didn't need to worry about it, and I really couldn't do anymore."
The students also were asked to complete an online survey. Of 18 students in the two classes, 13 completed the survey, a response rate of 72.2%.
Among the items, almost 85% of the print and broadcast reporters (6 print, 5 broadcast) agreed or strongly agreed that the Newsplex experience had helped them work with reporters from other media.
But when given the statement: "I would like to work more often with a reporter from another medium," support was significantly weaker: 57.2% (4) of the print reporters agreed or strongly agreed, while 14.3% (1) disagreed and 28.6% (2) had no opinion. Among broadcast students, 50% agreed or strongly agreed, while 33.3% (2) disagreed, and one offered no opinion.
A majority of both print and broadcast students said they wanted to take more multimedia courses.
There appears to be a clear difference in perception and practice. Students say they are willing to both work with reporters from other media, but in actual practice during this experiment there seemed to be very little cooperation. Some students did say they were able to work with their cross-media partners [“I really enjoyed working with someone else. We were able to share ideas and learn from the training that the other had.”], but most comments showed a disconnect between the two groups (“It was harder to work with a print student because they have different ideas about story writing whereas I was looking to see visuals as well as a humanizing story.”). The students seemed to want to work with one another but didn’t know how. The time pressures necessitated by a shorter summer session also were cited as a problem.
As a result, we have developed some conclusions and recommendations. Among those:
-- Allot more time for students to become acquainted: With a week to work together, and if they saw each other in other classes, they might be more amenable to stretching themselves and working with one another.
-- Develop a joint end product: With no joint project on which the students would be graded, their motivation for working together appeared lacking.
-- Use students of similar ability levels: The broadcast students had taken one reporting class, while this was the first such class for the print students. Even such a small relative difference appears to inhibit relationship building, and perhaps some misconceptions were reaffirmed.
Our attempt was to bring journalism
students together at that formative stage, when they would see the benefits
of working with other journalists irrespective of medium. This particular
experiment didn't produce the results we had hoped and expected, but it did
allow us to see what steps we can take in the future to help our students
become more aware of and adept in media different from their specialty.
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SOFTWARE FOR CONVERGENT NEWSROOMS
One of the questions I'm asked most frequently by schools and departments that are moving to a convergent journalism curriculum is what software they should be using. Most are disappointed when I tell them that I don't recommend a single piece of software because I haven't yet seen one that does it all at a cost that most universities can afford. Instead I recommend that they look at the functions that will be performed in their newsrooms and classrooms and select software that will allow content to flow from one medium to another.
My philosophy is that the software is not as important as the organization and physical structure of the converged newsroom. It is much more important to have people who are working on the same story working in proximity to each other than to have them using the same software, especially when the information can easily be translated from one piece of software to another. For some applications, such as photo and video editing, it is much more important to have software that is compatible with existing equipment and applications than to have an integrated suite that does everything.
The question came to light again in early December when I visited the University of Mississippi's Student Media Division, which is in the process of creating a converged facility for their student newspaper, FM radio station, television news broadcast, and Web site. They are dealing with the same technological issues faced by most programs attempting a convergent newsroom: multiple computer platforms, different software for print and broadcast, different software for student media vs. journalism classes, a limited budget, etc. My primary recommendation was that they needed to focus on the structure of the newsroom, along with organization and interpersonal issues rather than looking for one piece of software to do it all.
But, because the question keeps lingering, it may be time for me to reconsider whether any specific piece of new software will better serve in a convergent newsroom or classroom. As a first step, I'm asking you, as a reader of this newsletter, to let me know what packages you are using so that we can report back to you and other readers a comprehensive picture of the software that is in use today in convergent newsrooms.
To keep it simple, here is a short list of questions. Please paste these into an email message to me with brief responses: email@example.com. If you're using more than one package for an application, please list all that apply. If you have different solutions for classrooms and newsrooms, you can list them together or copy two sets of questions and answer them separately.
What software do you use in your newsroom (if any) for:
Editing print news stories:
Editing broadcast news stories:
Editing online news stories:
Web publishing program:
Print publishing program:
Informational graphics program:
Audio editing program:
Broadcast graphics program:
Are you satisfied with your solutions? (YES/NO)
If NO, what would you like to change?
What do you most want to know about the software in use in other programs?
What else can you share regarding the question of software in convergent media programs?
Do these answers represent a newsroom, classroom, or both?
What is the name of your school?
Who can I contact for more information? (Name and email address)
Thanks for participating! I'll compile the responses and report the results in the February issue of The Convergence Newsletter. If you have any other thoughts on this subject, or want to share a case study of software use in your operation, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org or call me: 803.777.4464.
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Happy Holidays from all the Newsplex staff—Kerry Northrup, Martha Stone, Geoff LoCicero and Julie Nichols. We’re winding up our first year in the Newsplex and looking forward to a 2004 jam-packed with horizon-expanding events. Stay-tuned to The Convergent Newsletter for information about all our training opportunities and happenings.
VISITORS – Two representatives from Newsplex Directorate member organizations received their first looks at the Newsplex in late November. António Torres Pereira, Director of IMPRESA (Portugal) visited during the Guardian Media Group’s recent training. IMPRESA will send a group of journalists to Columbia for Newsplex training in February 2004. Also visiting was Michael Aeria, Deputy Group Chief Editor of Newsplex Directorate member The Star of Malaysia on a fact-finding mission for The Star’s Board of Directors.
The Newsplex staff welcomed a number of visitors affiliated with academic institutions in the last several weeks. Robin Thornhill and Yarnick Rick Lamb from Howard University will be dropping by to see the facility today. Earlier this week Marsha Hoffman and Bruce Johnson of Shaughnessy Fickel and Scott Architects (Kansas City) visited to firm up ideas for the University of Missouri’s j-school renovation. The Newsplex hosted the South Carolina Broadcast Educators Awards Luncheon and Ceremony last month as well, with some 60 attendees from Benedict College, Furman University, Claflin University, Bob Jones University and Trident Technical College attending. Congratulations to all the award winners!
Other visits included a tour by the South Carolina Assistive Technology Committee, a group working to help individuals with disabilities access technology. Participants included Jeanette Guinn from the South Carolina Arts Commission, Kecia Greer and Catherine Buck Morgan from the South Carolina State Library, Gail Buckner and Dell Ford from the South Carolina Budget and Control Board CIO’s Office, Lyn Johnson of the South Carolina Association of Counties, Mark Hooper of the South Carolina Department of Transportation, Evelyn Evans of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine’s Assistive Technology Project, Tim Conroy of the South Carolina Department of Education’s Office of Exceptional Children, Wendy Mullin from the University of South Carolina’s Division of Computer Services, Janet Jendren of the South Carolina Assistive Technology Project, Sharon Bellwood from Greenville Technical College and Jim Blanton of ETV.
Finally, thanks to Patrick Nussbaum and Pierre Luyet of Radio Suisse Romande (Switzerland) for visiting in November as well.
2004 Calendar – Kerry and Martha are working on finalizing the Ifra Newsplex training schedule. Two seminars with registration open to all are currently planned. Backpack Journalism will be offered for the first time June 21-25, and the second installment of this year’s successful Adplexing Seminar will be held September 20-24. Watch this column and the Newsplex website www.newsplex.org for more details as they become available.
Julie Nichols is Projects Director for
Newsplex at the University of South Carolina
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***** CONFERENCE INFORMATION
AEJMC Regional Meeting: Southeast Colloquium
March 4-6, 2004
University of South 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: http://hometown.aol.com/flanagan960/colloquium/index.html
The call for papers deadline is November 28.
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
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
Call for papers is November 6, 2003.
For additional information, visit:
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Editor & Publisher and Mediaweek’s 2004 Interactive Media Conference
Scheduled for May 10-12, 2004 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta on Peachtree Street. Also included will be the 2004 EPPY Awards which will be presented on May 12, 2004 at a luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.
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.
Jane Ellen Stevens
Instructor, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
MOVING IMAGES ON NEW E-PAPER
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 www.MediaInfoCenter.org 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:
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COPYRIGHT AND REDISTRIBUTION
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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