The Convergence Newsletter

From Newsplex at the University of South Carolina

Vol. III No. 1 (July 7, 2005)

 

Commenting on Convergence

 

By Jordan Storm, editor of The Convergence Newsletter

 

It seems everyone is buzzing about convergence.  For the past four weeks, I have been working as a management intern at Morris Communications in Augusta, GA.  There, along with five other interns, I have had the pleasure of touring Morris’ media holdings and discussing media management principles with various department directors.  Without inquiring specifically about convergence, I have been amazed at the amount of times convergence has been discussed, debated and put into practice by these directors. 

 

While I will not detail my musings on Morris’ use of convergence now, I must share how excited I am about Morris’ use of convergence within their advertising departments.  Throughout most of the facilities I have toured, I have encountered exceptional communication between the different advertising sales departments.   One department director stated that while convergence does not always work as a business model, it should be used to streamline advertising sales across media publications and media platforms.

 

In this issue, Augie Grant at the University of South Carolina explores lessons journalists can learn from studying advertising and the Internet.  He states advertising that utilizes multimedia is not always as effective as simple text ads.  In his article, Grant identifies many of the issues that media companies, including Morris, are grappling with today, such as how to deliver information effectively and the ways in which effectiveness can be measured. 

 

Mindy McAdams at the University of Florida continues the discussion on multimedia and the Internet in her piece on Flash journalism.  McAdams book on the subject, Flash Journalism: How to Create Multimedia News Packages, was published in April 2005.   I believe it is fitting to feature Augie Grant and Mindy McAdam’s pieces in the same issue.  Their different takes on multimedia highlight just one of the many debates surrounding new media and convergence today. 

 

On an academic note, Shirley Staples Carter and Susanna Priest discuss the recent Research Leadership Summit, which was held in Columbia, S.C. earlier this year.  During the summit, academics from across the United States explored the role of journalism and mass communication research and scholarship in the academy.

 

As the first issue of the third volume of The Convergence Newsletter, this newsletter is packed with information.   As a reminder, our new e-mail format only gives you a bit of each of the articles—for the complete newsletter, it is important to click through to the whole newsletter using the link provided.

 

Jordan Storm is working towards a Master's of Arts degree at the University of South Carolina. Contact her at convergence-editor@mailbox.sc.edu.

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Feature Articles

Lessons for Journalists from Web Advertising

Flash Journalism

SJMC Hosts Research Leadership Summit at USC

Newsplex Convergence Summer Seminar Attendees Review their Experience

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Conference Information

Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Convention

Visual Edge: Visual Reporting

Adplexing: Cross-Media Advertising Tools & Techniques

Conference on Media Convergence: Cooperation, Collisions and Change

Society of Professional Journalists Convention & National Journalism Conference

Association for Women in Communications 2005 Professional Conference

Citizens Media Summit

2005 Online News Association Conference

BEA2006: Convergence Shockwave

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

 

Lessons for Journalists from Web Advertising

 

By Augie Grant, executive editor of The Convergence Newsletter and associate professor in the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies, University of South Carolina

 

The integration of the Internet as a distribution medium for news in traditional newspaper and television newsrooms offers some interesting new journalistic opportunities.  A few of these opportunities can be gleaned from analyzing how the Internet has been integrated into other areas of mass communication.  This article will focus specifically on Web advertising, exploring lessons that journalists can learn from studying advertising on the Internet.

 

The capability of the Internet to distribute any combination of audio, video, text, and graphics has led many to predict that multimedia advertising would dominate the Internet, but that prediction has not come to pass.  Rather, the most lucrative forms of advertising on the Internet are the simple text ads such as those that accompany search results on Google and Yahoo!.  Although I haven’t yet seen a systematic, authoritative study of the reasons why, possible reasons include the simplicity of the advertising, the subtlety of text ads (almost never drawing attention away from the content a person has gone to the Web to find), the micro-payment process that allows these ads to be used in very small campaigns, and the effectiveness—they only appear when a person is doing a search on targeted keywords, with the advertiser not paying unless a reader clicks on the ad to visit the sponsoring site.

 

The lesson from the success of text ads for converged journalists is that information delivered via plain text may be more effective for communicating news as well.  Plain text may be more readily absorbed by a user than a combination of visual elements with or without audio that requires additional clicks and attention.  The Internet is also used in a wide variety of environments, including offices and public places where audio or video might distract others or attract unwanted attention.  Also, as studies of media richness have taught us, a great deal of information can be communicated more clearly—and with less ambiguity—using plain text than through the use of richer media.  (Consider, for example, this “plain text” newsletter…)

 

As discussed above, one of the advantages that Web advertising has over most other forms of advertising is that Web ads offer instant and comprehensive measures of effectiveness, with advertisers being able to know exactly who saw what ads and what action they took as a result of seeing those messages.  The same technology can be used to inform editors and reporters regarding which stories were read, how much time was spent reading each page, and how effective headlines are, etc.  By knowing the specific stories read each day or week and how much time was spent with each one, an editor can, over time, do a better job of targeting content to the wants and needs of the news consumer.

 

This capability offers a fundamental challenge to the manner in which editorial judgments are made in a newsroom.  The manner in which editors exercise the power to dictate the stories that will appear in a newspaper or newscast, along with the order in which they appear, has been the most important issue in the editorial process.  Adding systematic, daily feedback from consumers to the editorial process will not be easy, and the manner in which this input should be used should be studied and debated, but there is no doubt that editors will be better served by knowing this information. 

 

An example of the utility of knowing exactly what content is read on a Web site is having a report on what stories from archives are being accessed every day.  Editors tuned to consumer interest in archival information will be better able to call for follow-up stories and updates to important stories.

 

One last lesson can be drawn from the practice of sites paying for cross-linking and referral traffic.  For example, Amazon.com enables anyone to place links to purchase relevant books on their Web sites, with Amazon sharing revenue from each purchase with the referring site.  Web sites providing news have the potential to engage in similar linking behavior, sharing content with other sites and earning additional opportunities for revenue from both advertising revenue-sharing and from link referral fees.

 

These three examples illustrate a few lessons that convergent journalists can draw from others who have integrated the Internet as a distribution medium for their messages.  Over time, these practices will become standard operating procedure in our newsrooms.  Until then, you are encouraged to send us a note whenever you identify other similar lessons that journalists can learn from other media practitioners so that we can share your observations through this newsletter.

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Flash Journalism

 

By Mindy McAdams, Knight Chair for Journalism Technologies and the Democratic Process and professor in the Department of Journalism at the University of Florida

 

Online media enable journalists to tell stories in new ways. Combine still photos with audio in a slideshow (a hybrid of traditional photojournalism and radio journalism), and you create a different, sometimes more intimate experience than video. With an interactive map, you allow the user to explore a story through key locations. Animated infographics explain causes and events by using time and motion, coupled with relevant text in chunks that users read at their own pace.

 

The best tool for creating these story forms today is Flash, a software application from Macromedia. Since 1999, journalists have used Flash to combine multiple media and add interactivity to online stories. So far, there is no better platform for authoring and delivering these stories. The Flash player is free, easy to download and install, and runs well in most Web browsers on Mac and Windows. Its installed base exceeds 90 percent of all computer users in Europe, Asia, and North America.

 

Not all Flash journalism is interactive. In some Flash story packages, the user simply watches while the content plays. Maybe the user can select from three or four segments; that’s slightly interactive. Maybe the user can pause the show or adjust the audio volume; that also is somewhat interactive. It is possible to make a Flash story package highly interactive, like a video game. Alternatively, a Flash package can be designed to communicate with a database, so that information entered by the user elicits a very individualized response.

 

One of the more interactive examples of Flash journalism is MSNBC’s The Big Picture, which incorporates user opinion polls and sometimes quizzes, within a slick interface that integrates video segments with supplementary text and Web links.

 

While a high level of interactivity might be incompatible with many journalistic stories, multimedia can enhance almost any story. The media forms we have to work with are text, audio, graphics, still photos and video. Any and all of these can be combined in a single seamless package. Graphics encompass the broadest variety of possibilities, from animations, maps and 3-D diagrams to custom interfaces.

 

Look for the World Cup and Tour de France packages produced by Agence France-Presse; these examples of database-driven Flash sports journalism demonstrate tremendous expertise in information design. For animated infographics, the Spanish dailies El Mundo and El País lead the world; The New York Times and USA Today also have excellent graphics.

 

To produce online graphics, a news organization needs top-notch artists who are also journalists. Often these are the people within the organization who embrace Flash journalism with the greatest enthusiasm. They may have no background or training in computer technology or programming, but if they have a strong desire to create animated infographics, they will plunge into learning Flash.

 

The other leaders in Flash journalism are typically photojournalists, who may even take up an audio recorder and begin gathering sound to accompany their photos after they catch the Flash journalism fever. You can find some of the best online photo slideshows at The Washington Post.

 

BOOK DATA:

Flash Journalism: How to Create Multimedia News Packages

By Mindy McAdams

Published by Focal Press in April 2005

ISBN: 0-240-80697-2

WEB SITE:

http://flashjournalism.com/

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SJMC Hosts Research Leadership Summit at USC

 

By Shirley Staples Carter, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina and Susanna Priest, director of research in the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies, University of South Carolina

 

The most common form of currency in a relationship between one unit or another in the academy is research, according to a stellar panel of presidents and vice presidents of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), one of the country’s leading professional associations for journalism and mass communications educators. The group was part of two research summits on April 28 and May 17, 2005, on the role of journalism and mass communication research and scholarship in the academy and its centrality to the research mission of the university. USC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications hosted the summits.

 

USC Provost Mark Becker joined the April panel of presidents and vice presidents of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication (ASJMC), an international organization of journalism and mass communication administrators. The panelists included ASJMC president Russ Shain, Dean of the College of Communications at Arkansas State University, and vice president Loren Ghiglione, Dean of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Shain shared his thoughts about a career working with faculty to achieve balance among research, teaching and service, while Ghiglione described non-traditional forms of research used by faculty and the challenges of combining the dual tracks.

 

Becker discussed his vision for research and the role of professional schools. He said he was familiar with the issues because he had a similar experience defining the role of research in the field of public health.

 

The May 17 panel included AEJMC president Mary Alice Shaver, Director, Nicholson School of Communication, University of Central Florida, president-elect Sharon Dunwoody,  Evjue-Bascom Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and vice president Wayne Wanta, professor, School of Journalism, University of Missouri.

 

Dunwoody said research dollars matter, as well as experiential involvement in the research process. She said the unit should decide the value of research to the unit, evaluate faculty members’ progress toward tenure, define professional scholarship within the unit if it has a dual track system (academic and professional) such as the University of South Carolina and promote internal awards. Shaver pointed out the importance of articulating issues germane to the professional school’s orientation, including how we differ from other disciplines particularly in our emphasis on skills courses.

 

She pointed out that the usual dichotomy between professionals and academics, theoretical versus applied research, should not be a difficult barrier to overcome.  Shaver also mentioned that like USC, journalism units should consider partnerships with disciplines outside the unit. Wanta echoed that sentiment, saying units should play to their strengths, incorporate the professionals with the researchers, ensure that the dual tracks communicate effectively with each other, and focus on interdisciplinary research when feasible. He also emphasized the importance of mentoring, involvement in the overall university culture and environment, and that journalism schools’ presence on their respective campuses should be pervasive.

 

Susanna Priest, director of research in the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies, closed each session with remarks on how all three of SJMC’s research themes (media and social values, health and science communication, and new media technologies) combine theoretical with applied dimensions.

 

Dean Charles Bierbauer moderated the first session; Shirley Staples Carter, SJMC Director, moderated the second summit. Carter inaugurated the summits in 2004, inviting the leadership of the two organizations headquartered in Columbia to discuss issues relevant to journalism and mass communication educators. Carter is a past president of ASJMC.

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Newsplex Convergence Summer Seminar Attendees Review Their Experience

 

Editor’s Note: Throughout the month of May, The College of Mass Communications and Information Studies at the University of South Carolina welcomed university and college faculty to its 2005 Newsplex Summer Seminars.  Two week-long sessions were held: Teaching and Research in Convergent Media and Web Publishing for Convergent Media. 

 

After meeting some of these attendees, I had the pleasure of asking them several questions.  Below are their answers:

 

Q: How have you, or how do you plan to utilize the skills and knowledge you gained at the seminar? 

 

A: I will be doing a presentation open to both students and faculty in September, sponsored by the College’s Teaching Center. 2) I will be traveling with two other professors to Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire in October for a site visit. This was recommended as a strong model by the Control Tower representative. 3) I am already purchasing InDesign, Visual Communicator, a digital camera, camera phones and another program called Final Draft. This is money allotted from the grant I got for convergent media. I also have $10,000 from the student activities budget with which to begin setting up the Convergent Media Student Center next year.

= Laurel Saiz, coordinator, Journalism Concentration, Onondaga Community College, Syracuse, NY

 

Q: How would you define convergence today?

A: Repurposing stories across media platforms. Thinking of a news story as a “slice of time,” and how one can best present it at that particular time, with the caveat that the mode will always be changing.

= Laurel Saiz, coordinator, Journalism Concentration, Onondaga Community College, Syracuse, NY

 

Q: What was your opinion of convergence before the seminar?

A: Not happening.

= Yvonne Cappé, associate professor, School of Journalism and Telecommunications, University of Kentucky

 

Q: What is your opinion of convergence since the seminar?

A:  Let’s go!

= Yvonne Cappé, associate professor, School of Journalism and Telecommunications, University of Kentucky

 

Q: What is your opinion of convergence since the seminar?

A: The process is complex, but that it is quite possible to accomplish an important piece of the process in our educational environment at Marquette.

= Karen Slattery, associate professor, Marquette University

 

Q: How would you define convergence today?

A: I would define convergence as a multi-faceted process that requires a good deal of flexibility.  It involves the use of various media to create messages in ways that makes use of the medias’ strengths.  The focus on the nature of the message to be communicated leads one to ask which medium or media to use in what circumstances.  The audiences and how they use the media must also be considered.  When the message becomes the focus, the organizational changes (convergence) and curricular changes (to support the message-making) follows.

= Karen Slattery, associate professor, Marquette University

 

Q: What were/are some of the challenges you have faced working with media convergence since the seminar?

A: The biggest challenge is communicating to fellow faculty and staff exactly how it is that our college might proceed and what their roles might be.

= Karen Slattery, associate professor, Marquette University

 

Q: Other comments?

A:  I’ll be back next year!

= Yvonne Cappé, associate professor, School of Journalism and Telecommunications, University of Kentucky

 

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---------------Conferences

 

Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Convention

Aug. 10-13, 2005

San Antonio, Texas, USA

http://www.aejmc.org/convention/index.html

 

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.

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Visual Edge: Visual Reporting

The Poynter Institute

September 10-16, 2005

St. Petersburg, FL, USA

http://www.poynter.org/seminar/seminar_view.asp?int_seminarID=3331

 

Photographers, as well as print and broadcast journalists will benefit from this training session. Participants will learn how convergence is affecting print, electronic media, and video storytelling by exploring the latest improvements in multimedia photographic reporting and technology and grappling with issues related to ethical decision-making, leadership, and quality control in news coverage. All workshop participants will report a story in the Tampa Bay area using the latest equipment and software. The focus will be on reporting using still photography and audio and video tools. Work will be posted at VisualEdge.org.

 

Application materials: Please include five samples of appropriate work with your application materials when applying for any Visual Journalism seminar. Digital samples are preferred.

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Adplexing: Cross-Media Advertising Tools & Techniques

IfraNewsplex

September 19-22, 2005

Columbia, South Carolina, USA

http://newsplex.org/program/training_adplexing05.shtml

 

The IfraNewsplex’s 4-day Adplexing seminar is in its third year. It is reflective of the explosive growth of the cross-media advertising phenomenon that has been taking the media world by story. Millions of dollars, euros and pounds are being made building a cross-media advertising enterprise, and this workshop will show you how to build one and maximize its revenue-making potential.

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Conference on Media Convergence: Cooperation, Collisions and Change

Co-sponsored by Brigham 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.   A showcase of convergent media practices will run concurrent with the academic conference.  For registration and further information about this academic conference or the showcase, visit the conference Web site at http://convergence.byu.edu.

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Society of Professional Journalists Convention & National Journalism Conference

Oct. 16-18, 2005

Las Vegas, USA

www.spj.org

 

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.

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The Association for Women in Communications 2005 Professional Conference

October 20-22, 2005

Lubbock, Texas, USA

http://www.womcom.org/

 

The Association for Women in Communications is a professional organization that champions the advancement of women across all communication disciplines by recognizing excellence, promoting leadership and positioning its members at the forefront of the evolving communications era. 

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Citizens Media Summit

October 24, 2005

University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA

http://www.j-newvoices.org/index.php/site/story/citizens_media_summit/

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2005 Online News Association Conference

October 28-29, 2005-October 29, 2005

New York, New York, USA

http://www.onlinenewsassociation.org/news/archives/000144.php

 

The conference will explore topics such as Defining Online Journalism, What’s Still New in New Media, Participatory Journalism – What’s That all About?, Web Analystics, Working Without a Net, and a Blogging ‘how-to.’ 

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Broadcast Education Association

Convergence Shockwave:  Change, Challenge and Opportunity

April 27-29, 2006

Las Vegas, USA

www.beaweb.org 

 

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. 

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---------------Announcements/News

 

New Textbooks Focus on Convergence

 

= Dr. Vic Costello’s book, The Multimedia Boot Camp: Getting Started in Digital Media Production (working title), will be published by Focal Press in Spring/Summer, 2006.  Dr. Vic Costello is an associate professor of communication at Elon University, in Elon, North Carolina.

The digital convergence stresses the commonality of previously discreet technologies and the degree to which converging media are becoming increasingly unified. Today, digital images, text and audio rarely have a singular function and are often repurposed for multiple audiences and channels of distribution (e.g. - DVD or the Web).  Media production students need a solid foundation that prepares them for the realities of working in today’s job market where they may be required to be a jack-of-all-trades and perhaps a master of only one. This is an introductory textbook designed for entry-level media production courses. The book should appeal to undergraduate students majoring in mass communication, journalism and related areas of study (digital art, multimedia production, film production, and instructional technology and design).  

Readers of this book will:

Understand the basic principles of visual perception, audio processing, and graphic design.

Understand the basic legal and ethical implications of working with digital media and related forms of intellectual property.

Understand the importance of project planning and organization, collaboration, production workflow, and file management of media assets associated with digital media creation.

Understand how to acquire and manipulate digital still images, sound and full-motion video for inclusion in a variety of multimedia applications.

Understand how to repurpose digital media content for the world-wide-web and other channels of electronic distribution.

 

= Dr. Stephen Quinn, the author of Convergent Journalism, has just finished Conversations on Convergence and is presently working on a third book, which has the working title, An Introduction to Convergence.  Dr. Stephen Quinn is a professor of communication studies at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia.

 

In An Introduction to Convergence (Boston: Focal Press) Quinn and Dr. Vince Filak, at Ball State, 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 squinn@usc.edu.au.

 

Publishing a Book About Convergence?  The Convergence Newsletter regularly publishes information about new and upcoming books on convergent journalism.  Send your submissions to convergence-editor@mailbox.sc.edu.  +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

---------------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.

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---------------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 convergence-editor@mailbox.sc.edu.  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 convergence-editor@mailbox.sc.edu.

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---------------Subscribe/Unsubscribe Information

 

To subscribe, unsubscribe or edit your information, please send a message to convergence-editor@mailbox.sc.edu or write to The Convergence Newsletter c/o School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.