From Newsplex at the University of South Carolina
Vol. III No. 10 (April 4, 2006)
Commenting on Convergence
By Jordan Storm, editor of The Convergence Newsletter
Too often as the nature and meaning of media convergence are debated, the pragmatics of the application of convergence are ignored. This issue of The Convergence Newsletter explores different perspectives of convergence in the field with Todd Kelsey’s piece on personal digital archaeology, or the phenomena of digital antiquity and the means people can use to bridge these gaps. We also look at Rich Everitt’s insider view on convergent broadcast journalism as well as feature an interview discussing multimedia and the future of the journalism profession with William S. Morris IV, president of Morris Communications.
Also, don't forget about the Broadcast Education Association's conference, Convergence Shockwave: Change, Challenge and Opportunity, in Las Vegas April 27-April 29. In the words of Barry Manilow, "We're goin' hoppin'/We're goin' hoppin' today/Where things are poppin'" in Las Vegas!
View past newsletters at http://www.jour.sc.edu/news/convergence/.
Jordan Storm is working toward a Master of Arts degree at the University of South Carolina. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Case for Personal Digital Archaeology
Mass Media Convergence: Why it is Happening and What Happens Next
New Media and the Future of the Journalism Profession: Morris Communications’ President William S. Morris IV Shares a Few Words
BEA2006: Convergence Shockwave
Newsplex Summer Seminar Series
World Editors Forum
NAHJ in the Old West: El Portal a un Nuevo Mundo
ICA: Networking Communication Research Conference
Asian American Journalists Association National Convention
Native American Journalists Association Convention
SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference
Convergence and Society: Ethics, Religion and New Media
The Case for Personal Digital Archaeology
By Todd Kelsey, PhD student, Illinois Institute of Technology, adjunct faculty member, National Louis University and College of DuPage, and author of several books on new media, including Flash MX Design for TV and Video (Wiley)
I inherited my grandfather’s computer, an old Atari XL, whose archaic 5 ¼ inch large diskettes and obsolete operating system prevented me from easily accessing his writing. This experience introduced me to the phenomena of digital antiquity and the generational obsolescence of digital artifacts. I reflected on this incident over time, and continued to encounter other issues brought on by changes in technology, in the context of recovering and sharing files with others. Eventually I realized that there was a body of related phenomena, concepts and processes that could be integrated and described as digital archaeology.
Digital archaeology begins with an examination of the rich and colorful history surrounding the evolution of personal computers, a generational narrative that helps to inform our understanding of digital culture.
The first generation of personal computers is reaching 25 years of age, an accepted threshold for official antique status. The revolution started with the very first “kit” computers that electronic hobbyists painstakingly pieced together in the late 70s, and a wider explosion in popularity soon followed with the introduction of the original Apple IIe and IBM PC. The present panoply of choices around the world is confirmation that personal computers have become an intrinsic thread in the fabric of daily life.
One of the products of the personal computer industry has been the generation of a body of various media types and file formats, which over time has increased in complexity and variety. With our increasing involvement and reliance upon personal computers, we have created a mass of culture in the form of personal, digital “artifacts.” Our ability to share these artifacts is dependent on the ability of the recipients to access our chosen format. As not all of the generations and types of computers are compatible with each other, many of these personal, digital artifacts have been slipping away into digital antiquity and are becoming inaccessible.
Thus the basic tenet of digital archaeology is that the past can be discovered and recovered, the present can be captured and preserved, and the means exist to celebrate and share these stories.
On the one hand, the accepted need for standardization within the industry has acted as a safeguard for the accessibility of content, as dominant media formats have been distilled through a combination of market forces and popularity with end-users. But for the purposes of digital archaeology, the entire body of created formats and media types raises the question of conversion, from the given format of a particular artifact, to whatever the desired format is. All media types and formats are considered to be “valid” and the end goal is to be able to take a digital artifact from any format and make it accessible to the end-user. The considerations include questions such as software versions, the particular equipment that was/is required to access a form of media and the means to interconnect hardware and software.
Ideally, a matrix will be formed; a body of information that can help to meet the challenge of media variants, a dynamic set of guidelines that will allow an individual to be aware of what is needed in order to get from point A to point B. This will involve the accumulation of a body of knowledge that can help a researcher or student gain fluency with historical formats and help them to navigate past, present and future media types, leveraging the participation of a community of interested parties. It may also be that individuals and institutions with access to particular hardware and software versions could act as cooperative, symbiotic “relays,” participating in a network that might allow for the use of hardware and software that is not widely available.
What is a Digital Archaeologist?
In a simplistic scenario, the traditional archaeologist uses a variety of tools to gather and analyze physical artifacts, which may have been buried underground for many years or are otherwise hidden from view. The archaeologist’s goal is to find, restore and make them available for study and enjoyment.
The digital archaeologist, on the other hand, is a person who uses computers and other electronic equipment to work with digital artifacts. They might dig into digital antiquity, seeking to rescue obsolete computer files from the brink of oblivion, to see what someone wrote on their computer that had been locked away in an unknown format.
The Digital Archaeologist’s Toolkit
The digital archaeologist’s toolkit includes three types of tools: equipment, software and know-how — the things that help someone to capture, preserve and share their stories.
There are several continuums in which the archaeologist may build their toolkit, such as media formats, whether popular or esoteric. For example, just to scratch the surface, one might specialize in film or video and choose to develop the ability to convert and view the historical body of formats that represent the media types that have been a part of a particular culture over time. In one dimension, if the milieu were personal use or creation, the continuum might begin with something like 8mm film, extend to VHS (and Beta), include a variety of pre-digital video recording devices and extend into the current expanding variety of digital camcorders and mobile devices that can capture video. If you consider the international dimension, there is also the question of which broadcast format the original artifact may have been created in, such as PAL, NTSC, SECAM and others.
There are a variety of directions for exploration and a number of options for developing fluency and facility. There are natural synergies between theory and practice, as well as opportunities for the integration of various disciplines. For example, the consideration of the cultural milieu in which a particular artifact came into being is important in helping to determine the popularity of particular media types.
I believe that there are immense opportunities in this area, where the fruits of research could help to deepen our understanding of the role that personal computers have played in helping to form our digital culture. I also believe that the development of curricula, labs and research projects could ultimately provide faculty, students and practitioners with opportunities: to help people capture, preserve and share their personal and cultural stories. Digital archaeology aims to capture the imagination, to be fun, to encourage the discovery (and recovery) of digital artifacts and to assist participants in developing a sense of cultural and ancestral rootedness.
Kelsey will be ABD by fall of this year and hopes to find a faculty position where he can work with digital archaeology and global, multilingual communication. He welcomes general inquiries, feedback and proposals for collaboration. Visit www.tdai.org for more information, or send an email to: info “at” tdai.org.
Why It is Happening and What Happens Next
Rich Everitt, veteran broadcast journalist and president of Talentapes, a
professional resume tape service company based in Augusta, Ga.
A friend and fellow journalist, whose career had begun alongside mine back in the dark ages of film chains and hand wound Bolex’s, recently observed, “Rich you have become convergence personified.” His point was clear without further elaboration — since those early days, I have produced various bits of journalism for radio, television, film, newspapers, magazines, books, and most recently the internet. In my case, working across so many media is the result of various and mostly unexpected career twists and turns. However, what for me have been serendipitous excursions across the media will be the standard operating procedure for the next generation of journalists. Convergence will see to that.
In the early days of television news it was expected that a TV news operation would lose money, and that was okay. For media owners, providing news to their viewers was an important way to show the FCC at license renewal time that the station was operating “in the public interest.” Media managers happily operated their news operations as a loss leaders as a guard against the loss their licenses. Then, along came the bean counters — investment bankers and their ilk — who replaced the original broadcasters as owners of broadcast media, and life in the newsroom began to change. With the bean counters (who seemed more concerned about their financial interest than the public interest) encouraged by a growing laissez-faire attitude at the FCC, suddenly a healthy bottom line trumped a good lead story. The owner of one of the largest television groups in the country told me, “If Andy Griffith re-runs will get us better ratings we are going to cancel the news and run Andy.” He was not joking. Over the past ten years his company has bought dozens of television stations and at each one, either cut the news operation to its bones, or cancelled it altogether. For this huge media owner and many others, the motive is money.
With the profit motive in mind many media owners in recent years have taken to the idea of “convergence” as another means of lowering expenses and raising profits. I have been involved in convergence projects at three television stations. Each project involved merging the news operation of the television station with that of a local newspaper, and in each instance the project began with a meeting between the station’s general manager and newspaper’s publisher. Each of those meetings went something like this:
General Manager: I’ve got an idea that will save you and me a lot of money.
Publisher: I’m all ears.
General Manager: I’ll get our TV reporters to write newspaper stories for you and you get your newspaper reporters to be on TV for me.
Publisher: I get it. That way we can each fire half our staff, produce the same amount of product and save a lot of money. Brilliant!
General Manager: Oh, I can just see our bonus checks already!
I never actually saw them slap backs and light cigars, but I suspect they did after I left the room.
The process of merging television and newspaper newsrooms is only one type of convergence media managers are attempting. Consider the various media platforms and you can come up with an almost infinite number of combinations, and many media managers are breathlessly groping like hormonal teens on a first date to score the best combination/implementation. While no paradigm has proved itself over the others so far, one thing is abundantly clear: there is no motive like the profit motive, so media managers are committed to convergence and the concomitant savings they will enjoy whatever form it might ultimately take. (In one astonishing shock to the system, one ownership group is forcing two of its television stations to do a little “internal convergence” — merging their videography and reporting staffs. What they are actually doing at both stations is training their reporters, videographers and even editors to shoot, edit and report stories under the new guise of the high falutin’ title: “video-journalist.” Small, financially strapped, backwater TV stations, you say? Think again. The stations are WKRN in Nashville and KRON in San Francisco — the 30th and 6th largest television markets in the country.) This is the changing and largely unexplored new world for which the student journalist of today must prepare.
As convergence erases the lines between “broadcast” journalist, “print” journalist, “photo” journalist, etc., old habits die hard. Many of today’s generation of broadcast journalists dreamed of producing their stories for television, studied television, and rose through the ranks of television. The same can be said for many of today’s print journalists and their affinity for print. Since broadcast and print journalists dreamed of, trained for, and live in different worlds, many in one have little understanding or affection for the other. In fact, straddling as I do both print and television, I have witnessed a good deal of snickering on both sides of journalism’s fence: “Those TV reporters, no substance, just hairspray and makeup,” or “That print reporter…I’d like to see him ad lib on a two minute live shot…like he’d ever get a chance…he’s got a face for print.” No one ever accused reporters of an over-abundance of empathy and compassion.
Perhaps one happy, unintended consequence of convergence is it will force the “us” against “them” mindset to vanish. Soon, there will be no “them.” The aspiring journalists of today will ply their skills across multiple platforms tomorrow. It is likely tomorrow’s journalist will shoot, write and edit a television story in the morning; re-cut the audio for a radio report at lunch; re-write the story for the afternoon edition of the newspaper; blog about it on the Internet that evening, and stream an update into a podcast over night. Welcome to a day in the life of a “converged journalist.”
So how is today’s aspiring journalist to survive — even thrive — in the borderless world of convergence? Preparation is the key. Students today can no longer expect it to be enough to excel as a broadcast journalist or to excel as a print journalist. Today’s aspiring journalist will be expected to do more than produce an excellent story for television or write a great story for print. They will be expected to produce as well in one as the other. They will be required to match pictures and words for the television viewer, to use sound and words for the ear of a radio listener, and to write taut copy for the eye of a reader. The journalism student of today is well advised to follow a curriculum that prepares him or her with a quiver of skills — broadcast, print, new media and more — because unlike the dark ages when an occasional excursion into a different media was nothing more than a serendipitous adventure, in the future all journalists who thrive will be “convergence personified.”
The University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications
Newsplex Summer Seminar Series
May 8 – June 30, 2006
Columbia, South Carolina USA
Faculty who are interested in learning more about teaching convergent journalism are encouraged to check out the Newsplex Summer Seminars. Four separate seminars will be held at Newsplex in May and June 2006, ranging in topic from a broad overview of convergence trends to more specific training in Web publishing and specific software operation. The seminars are:
May 8-12: Convergence Software Bootcamp #1
May 22-26, 2006: Teaching and Research in Convergent Journalism
June 12-16, 2006: Web publishing in Convergent Journalism
June 26-30, 2006: Convergence Software Bootcamp #2
A limited number of spaces are available in each seminar. Tuition for each five-day seminar is $750. For more information, or to reserve a spot, visit: http://Newsplex.sc.edu or e-mail Augie Grant: email@example.com.
New Media and the Future of the Journalism Profession: Morris Communications’ President William Morris Shares a Few Words
(Editor’s note: William S. Morris IV is the president of Morris Communications, a privately held media company with diversified holdings that include newspaper and magazine publishing, outdoor advertising, radio broadcasting, book publishing and distribution, visitor publications and online services. He spoke with The Convergence Newsletter Feb. 17, 2006. )
TCN: In What’s Next: Problems and Prospects of Journalism, Robert Giles and Robert W. Snyder write that in regard to the future of journalism, it is very difficult to determine what is around the next bend in the road – especially in a field as integrally connected with changes in culture, politics, technology and economics as journalism. How has Morris Communications evolved in the past 10 years?
Morris: We are a diversified media company with five major divisions: newspapers, magazines, radio, outdoor and books. In the last 10 years we have grown significantly in newspapers and radio. We have also increased [our] magazine holdings in the past 10 years.
TCN: One question I hear quite often is, “How can we, as media practitioners, increase our circulation numbers?” Could you explain what the company is doing to attract readers of the future, or the next generation?
Morris: Attracting younger readers is something that is top-of-mind for all publishing executives. We are working diligently to produce products that increase readership of all ages. I feel like a lot of our internal activities are working toward trying to address the needs of younger and more mobile audiences with relevant content. This is being led by the group at Morris Digital Works.
TCN: Mindich cites numerous data sources in Tuned Out that show younger generations are not utilizing or engaging with news media, such as the newspaper. Dean Charles Bierbauer, University of South Carolina College of Mass Communications and Information Science, mentioned that you are presently organizing a think tank or “mosh pit” of high school students to think about how younger readers are communicating. What you hope to find by studying the communication and media habits of young people today?
Morris: The project has not gotten to that level yet. We are working with high school students but it is more [about them] bringing us technology ideas and issues and having them work on issues and ideas such as blogging, mobile telephone technologies and also working on what the next generation of Web sites should look and feel like.
They are helping us expand our thought process with developing the next generation of Web sites and mobile communications. They are a fresh set of eyes, a younger set of eyes. There are no ideas that are off the table at Morris. We want to make sure we look at any and all ideas that are brought to us.
TCN: How do you see Morris newsrooms in the future in regard to new technology and multi-media?
Morris: We are using every available technology to communicate with our readers and I think we are doing a better job of listening to what our readers want. We are embracing much more video and photography with and through the newsrooms we serve. For instance, we are sending reporters out with digital cameras to cover the story whereas in the past they would just have pens and paper. This is an example of convergence in the field.
TCN: In 1981, Ted Turner said at an American Newspaper Publishers Association (ANPA) meeting that his medium, cable television, was more effective than other media. In addition to newspapers and the Internet, what new media are you excited about today?
Morris: I think what we are doing with our Internet products is extremely exciting and it is a terrific opportunity to involve the local communities in this new era of citizen journalism; an example of this Bluffton Today.
TCN: Where do you see Morris Communications as a company in 10 years?
Morris: I think the newspapers will still be around and we will still be in the business and I hope that Morris Communications will be serving its local communities with a proliferation of products and services.
April 25-28, 2006
Seattle, Washington USA
Broadcast Education Association
Convergence Shockwave: Change, Challenge and Opportunity
April 27-29, 2006
Las Vegas, Nevada USA
The BEA2006 Conference aims to create a forum for discussion and research on the issues that face media convergence today.
Reporting and Convergence Seminar
Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism, Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley in partnership with the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation
May 21-26, 2006
This expenses-paid seminar that combines practical instruction in multimedia reporting with in-depth exploration of media convergence and other critical issues for online news operations is accepting applications from print and broadcast reporters and editors who want to make the transition to multimedia journalism and media convergence.
Participants will get five full days of intense hands-on instruction on how to do multimedia stories for the Web, including: using digital video cameras, photo cameras and minidisc recorders; doing storyboards, stand-ups, voiceovers and other broadcast techniques; digital video, audio and photo editing; creating photo slide shows in Flash; and Web page creation and multimedia Web site design.
Application forms are available at WKConline.org. Applications should be addressed: Vikki Porter, Director, The Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism, USC Annenberg School for Communication, 300 South Grand Avenue, Ste. 3950, Los Angeles, CA, 90071.
Applications should include TWO copies each of: a resume; a 500-word statement of why this seminar would be valuable to the journalist; a supervisor’s strong nominating letter agreeing to cover salary and incidental expenses. Applications must be RECEIVED no later than Friday, April 14, 2006.
Questions? If you would like additional information about this seminar, call WKC Associate Director Lanita Pace-Hinton at 510-643-7429 or e-mail .
National Association of Hispanic Journalists Convention and Media & Career Expo
NAHJ in the Old West: El Portal a un Nuevo Mundo
June 15-18, 2006
Fort Worth, Texas USA
International Communication Association
Networking Communication Research Conference
June 19-23, 2006
Conference pre-registration starts January 15, 2006.
Asian American Journalists Association National Convention
June 21-24, 2006
Honolulu, HI USA
AEJMC Convention Call for Papers
August 2-5, 2006
San Francisco, CA USA
The programming groups within the Council of Divisions of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication invite submission of original, non-published research papers to be considered for presentation at the AEJMC Convention, postmarked no later than April 1, 2006.
SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference
August 24-26, 2006
Chicago, IL USA
University of South Carolina College of Mass Communication and Information Science and Newsplex
Convergence and Society: Ethics, Religion and New Media Conference
October 19-21, 2006
Columbia, SC USA
The purpose of this conference is to provide a scholarly exploration of ethics, values, religiousity, and new media, and of the connections among them. Submission may address theory, history, media practice, social influences, cultural issues, legal implications and effects upon consumers.
Faculty and graduate students are invited to submit in one or more of three categories: completed papers, proposals or abstracts of papers in progress and proposals for panels.
Submissions may address practical, theoretical, phenomenological, critical and/or empirical approaches to any of the subjects listed above. 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.
For submission guidelines, registration and further information about this conference, visit the conference Web site at: http://Newsplex.sc.edu or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in finding, getting and keeping a job in television news, check out “BackTime, the Podcast for Television Journalists.” The podcast is all about the real world issues facing the working journalists. Each episode features interviews with the men and women who work in the industry, including news directors, agents and award winning journalists. To subscribe to the free podcast, click on this link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/backtime.
Publishing a book about convergence? The Convergence Newsletter regularly publishes information about new and upcoming books on convergent journalism. Send your submissions to email@example.com.
---------------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.
Augie Grant, Ph.D.
Editor Assistant Editor
Jordan Storm Kelly Mitchell
---------------Copyright and Redistribution
The Convergence Newsletter is Copyright © 2006 by the University of South Carolina, College of Mass Communications and Information Studies. All rights reserved.
This newsletter may be redistributed in any form — print or electronic — without edits or deletion of any content.
The Convergence Newsletter is optimized for 80 character display; you may need to reset the line length on the preferences menu of your e-mail program.
---------------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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com.
To subscribe, unsubscribe or edit your information, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to The Convergence Newsletter c/o School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.