The Convergence Newsletter
The Convergence Newsletter

From Newsplex at the University of South Carolina

Vol. X No. 1 (February 2013)

Understanding journalism's future vital for educators

By Chris Winker

As new technology continues to rapidly change the way people get news, educators are faced with a difficult task of preparing their students for the ever-changing media world. How can we teach young journalists going forward if we do not know what the future holds?

In this issue, Shixin Ivy Zhang and David Edwards of the University of Nottingham in Ningbo, China, attempt to better understand the future of journalism and how that will change the future of its education. They see the future of journalism education in three dimensions: depth, breadth, and diversity and speed. The importance of journalism education in relation to the profession's future is vital, and they call for the corresponding curriculum to address these new issues while not ignoring core journalistic values.

Respond to Zhang and Edwards' argument at The Convergence Newsletter blog and at the newsletter's Facebook or Google+ pages. View the full archive of newsletters at

The Convergence Newsletter provides a place to describe front-line issues for practitioners and for professors training a new generation of reporters and editors. We're always interested in those ideas or parts of research projects that are compelling but deserve fuller treatment beyond a journal article or that do not make an article's final cut.

Please e-mail articles or suggestions to us at


Quick Glance Calendar (Details)

Feb. 28-March 2: AEJMC Southeast Colloquium, Tampa, Fla.

March 21-23: Media and Civil Rights History Symposium, Columbia, S.C.

April 4-6: American Copy Editors Society, St. Louis

April 7: Research Symposium of the Broadcast Education Association, Las Vegas

April 19-20: The International Symposium on Online Journalism, Austin, Texas

June 17-19: International Symposium on Language and Communication, Izmir, Turkey

June 17-21: International Communication Association, London

Sept. 12-15: Newspapers and Community-Building Symposium, Phoenix

Sept. 26-28: American Journalism Historians Association National Convention, New Orleans

Oct. 24-26: Beyond Convergence: Mobile, Social, and Virtual Media, Las Vegas

Oct. 28-29: International Conference on Journalism and Mass Communications, Phuket, Thailand


Featured article

The Future of Journalism and Journalism Education
Dr. Shixin Ivy Zhang and Dr. David Edwards
University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China

As innovation in information systems pushes them toward convergence with the practice of journalism in unforeseen ways, we offer some ideas about what shape the future of journalism may take. We think this is a useful way to understand how the revolution in digital technology may shape journalism's future and what it means for journalism education.

There is no doubt the Internet and innovations in information systems and database design are bringing disruptive changes and challenges to journalism. As existing structures in news organizations break down and traditional news outlets struggle to adapt, we seem to be at a critical juncture. We use the metaphor of the "laboratory" or experimental arena in which new business models, journalism practices, and new digital news organizations are emerging and developing. And so we are seeing new and old media competing and co-existing in the struggle to survive or die. The key point that drives this ecological change is the liquidity of information that now flows across the boundaries with ever-greater ease.

We find it useful to envisage the future of journalism in three crucial dimensions brought about by the new fluidity of information flow – depth, breadth, and diversity and speed – in relation to news production and distribution, business models, and journalists.

Journalism's future is likely to be defined by multiple layering of interactions and rich news experiences. There will be more interaction between news producers and news audiences, between professional journalists and news audiences, and among the audiences themselves. This depth also implies rich experiences that news producers can offer to audiences. When it comes to news production and distribution, we can foresee the convergence or co-existence of old media and new media, what Fidler terms mediamorphisis [1]. Other terms we are familiar with are digital journalism, convergent journalism, and multimedia journalism [2]. Nearly all news organizations will produce multimedia and interactive content and distribute it via multiple platforms.

A key point is the news story is no longer an end product. It is a process with new information coming, new leads being provided by news consumers, and comments being made and posted by Web users. The key to convergent journalism is to use the most appropriate media, be it TV, radio, newspaper, website, or mobile device, to distribute news. Journalists need to produce distinctive and differentiated news stories, but more importantly, to engage the audience with an online news experience.

In the past, we said that content is the king. Today, experience is the king [3]. News producers need to make consumers dive into the subject, to see, hear, feel, and even play with the news.

It also involves personalization and customization. Today, many people use email to receive and read news, or they receive referrals to stories through social media. Like Amazon, news producers need to know consumers’ likes and dislikes and their consumption behaviors. News organizations still need to broadcast news to a collective audience, yet they also need to narrowcast news to cater to individual needs. In balancing broadcast and narrowcast, news producers must leverage professionally generated content with that from users to provide consumers with what they want as well as what they need.

Breadth encompasses news organizations' global strategies to reach the widest audiences. For publishers, especially newspaper publishers, the Internet has disrupted their distribution monopoly as the market has changed from supply driven to demand driven and distribution channels have gone from traditional door-to-door to multimedia.

They need to find and create new cost and revenue structures, reformulate content and marketing strategies to meet the demands of fragmented markets, and connect with audiences. Examples of such strategies include focusing on local and regional news, launching foreign language websites in emerging markets like China, establishing or enhancing brand, integrating with Facebook and Twitter, and using technologies to support different devices like the Kindle or iPad. These often involve making content more searchable and linkable for the "the attention economy" or "click economy."

Diversity and speed
Diversity means the emergence and development of new news genres such as citizen journalism; mobile, or Mojo, journalism; data journalism, etc. News will break out at unprecedented speed. CNN's slogan is that "when we know it, you know it."

However, audiences often already are learning about the news before the mainstream media know it. For example, reported that Twitter broke the news of Whitney Houston's death 27 minutes before the mainstream media did. Sohaib Athar, a resident in Pakistan, tweeted about helicopters hovering over Osama bin Laden's hideaway. [4]

Multiskilled journalists are needed to gather and produce multimedia content, and they need to be fluent across different media platforms. Although it is impossible to require journalists to excel in using every medium, they need to grasp the basics of different media. They also need to know how to interact, influence and maintain relationships with the online community via social media.

They also must have some ability to gather and use data to uncover and interpret news through so-called database journalism or data journalism. They play the role of interpreter more than just reporter or disseminator.

Journalism education plays a crucial role in the profession's future. Journalism schools train young people not only to make them employable after leaving school but also to enable young journalists to lead news organizations into engagement with people so those organizations can survive and develop.

This means the curriculum can't be focused on just teaching how to produce multimedia content; to use different devices and technologies such as coding, open source, HTML5, and Flash; to understand news business models; and to be a marketer. There must also be a focus on how to produce high quality, entrepreneurial journalism.

Classical professional journalistic skills such as fact-checking, finding reliable news sources, news writing skills, news interviewing skills, background research, and ethical issues are equally necessary and important. In the time of media undergoing unprecedented crisis of credibility and trust, the core of news making should remain unchanged to win back the public.

The formula for the future of journalism education will be:

technology/new tools + classic reporting + business models = future of journalism education.

The key is to promote students' critical thinking about the classic question: What does it mean to be a journalist in society?

[1] Fidler, R. (1997). Media morphisis: Understanding new media. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Pine Forge Press. (Return)

[2] Kawamoto, K. (2003). Digital journalism: Emerging media and the changing horizons of journalism. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield. Scott, B. (2005). A Contemporary History of Digital Journalism. Television New Media. Vol. 6 No. 1: 89-126. Quinn, S. (2005). Convergent journalism: The fundamental of multi-media reporting. New York: Peter Lang. Grant, A.E. & Wilkinson, J. (2008). Understanding media convergence: The state of the field. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Deuze, M. (2004). What is multimedia journalism? Journalism Studies. Vol. 5, Issue 2: 139-152. (Return)

[3] Finch, C. (2010). User Experience, Not Content, is King. Retrieved Feb. 8, 2013, from (Return)

[4] Himler, P. (2012). Whitney, Twitter & SONY's Tin Ear. Forbes. Retrieved Feb. 8, 2013, from Brenhous, H. (2011) Man Live-Tweets U.S. Raid on Osama bin Laden Without Knowing It. Time. Retrieved Feb. 8, 2013, from (Return)


Conferences, Training, and Calls for Papers (Return to top)

AEJMC Southeast Colloquium
University of South Florida, Tampa
Feb. 28-March 2


Media and Civil Rights History Symposium
University of South Carolina, Columbia
March 21-23


American Copy Editors Society
St. Louis
April 4-6


Research Symposium of the Broadcast Education Association
April 7
Las Vegas


The International Symposium on Online Journalism
April 19-20
University of Texas at Austin


International Symposium on Language and Communication
Izmir, Turkey
June 17-19


International Communication Association
June 17-21


Newspapers and Community-Building Symposium
Sept. 12-15


American Journalism Historians Association 32nd National Convention
New Orleans, La.
Sept. 26-28
Deadline to submit paper: May 15


Beyond Convergence: Mobile, Social, and Virtual Media
Las Vegas
Oct. 24-26
Deadline to submit paper: June 15


International Conference on Journalism and Mass Communications
Phuket, Thailand
Oct. 28-29


Publisher and Editorial Staff

The Convergence Newsletter is free and published by The College of Mass Communications and Information Studies at the University of South Carolina.

Executive Editor: Doug Fisher

Editor: Chris Winkler

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Submission Guidelines

The Convergence Newsletter provides an editorially neutral forum for discussion of the theoretical and professional meaning of media convergence in all forms including technological, organizational, operational, psychological, and sociological. We welcome articles of all sorts and encourage those addressing the subject in new ways and with new perspectives. We also accept news briefs, book reviews, calls for papers and conference announcements. Our audience is both academic and professional; the publication style is AP for copy and APA for citations.

Feature articles should be 750 to 1,200 words. Other articles and reviews should be 250 to 750 words; announcements and conference submissions should be no more than 200 words. Please send all articles to The Convergence Newsletter editor at along with your name, affiliation and contact information.The newsletter is published monthly except January and July. Please submit all articles by the 15th of the month to be considered for the next month's issue.

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