The Convergence Newsletter

From Newsplex at the University of South Carolina

Vol. III No. 2 (August 4, 2005)


Commenting on Convergence


By Jordan Storm, editor of The Convergence Newsletter


When I read The Washington Post a few weeks ago, I chuckled at a quote that said, "For some of these young kids, it's never enough - they want to stay connected everywhere.  Everywhere!The respective quote was responding to Washington, D.C.'s newest public site to offer free wireless access. 


Compared to the speaker of the quote, who referred to himself as "older than dirt," I am a "young kid" and yes, I do want to stay connected.  I would say I even need to stay connected. 


For instance, staying connected for me is essential in producing this newsletter.  Searching for the latest news and future story ideas, I peruse various Web sites and e-mail newsfeeds, such as, and The New York Times on the Web, saving what I feel is important or notable.   What I have found is that when I review my notations later, I usually have to erase nearly all of them, for they are outdated and have lost their timeliness.    


To me, access to up-to-date information is critical.  Because examples of convergence in media can be found daily, I have to stay connected at all times.  There is always something new and exciting to explore, critique, adopt, share or discard.


This is why I am so excited about the number of ways information is being shared in the coming weeks.  In addition to seminars, workshops and summits, the Media Convergence Conference in Provo, Utah and the AEJMC Convention in San Antonio, Texas have announced their respective agendas.  


If you attend the Provo conference in October, be sure to check out keynote speaker James M. Brady, the executive editor of  In San Antonio this month take a look at Bonnie Bressers and Robert Meeds' study, from Kansas State University," Executives' Perceptions of Print/Online Integration Factors that Influence Major Newspapers." Also, check out "Event Blogging the 2004 Conventions: Media Bloggers, Non Media Bloggers, and Their Network Connections" by Sharon Meraz, University of Texas at Austin. 


You can find more information pertaining to the Media Convergence Conference and the AEJMC Convention in the newsletter below.


Jordan Storm is working towards a Master of Arts degree at the University of South Carolina. Contact her at



Feature Articles

Media Convergence Conference Schedule Announced

Predictions about What Students Need in the Convergence Age: Were they Right? 

Consumers Push the Envelope, Los Angeles Times Pushes Back



Conference Information

Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Convention

Visual Edge: Visual Reporting

Adplexing: Cross-Media Advertising Tools & Techniques

Media Convergence Conference: 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



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


Media Convergence Conference Schedule Announced


Brigham Young University and the University of South Carolina have just released the agenda for the fourth annual convergent journalism conference, "Media Convergence:  Collisions, Cooperation, and Change," October 13-15, 2005 in Provo, Utah.


Highlights of the conference include:

The keynote speaker for the conference is James M. Brady, executive editor of  The conference also will include numerous opportunities for networking and informal interaction among conference participants.


The conference will take place on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and is co-sponsored by BYU's Department of Communication and USC's College of Mass Communication and Information Studies.  A post-conference excursion to the Sundance Institute also is planned.


The complete agenda for the conference is available on the conference Web site:  Online registration for the conference is available on the conference Web site; the registration fee is $100.


A pre-conference workshop offering training in podcasting for up to 15 participants is available at no additional charge to any registrant on a first-come, first-served basis.  To reserve space, e-mail conference co-chair Quint Randle:


For more information on the conference or the agenda, please e-mail conference co-chair Augie Grant:  


See you in Provo!



Predictions about What Students Need in the Convergence Age: Were they Right? 

By George L. Daniels, assistant professor of journalism, The University of Alabama

It's hard to believe that three years have passed since the Society of Professional Journalists ran a cover story on journalism cross-training in the annual education issue of its membership publication, Quill
. The cover art of a student with a backpack stuffed with such things as a microphone, notepad, computer, newspaper, and a television, has appeared in more than one book since the July/August 2002 article. 

Now as we prepare for fall semester, we as educators and researchers have the benefit of some real-life case studies from the media and bruises or tough lessons from our own teaching, along with a number of cross-media reporting and convergence texts our colleagues have produced. This gives us a chance to consider some recent cross-media case studies, and then to use those cases to do a "reality check" on some of the convergence predictions in the 2002 Quill

Cross-Media Reporting on the Scrushy Trial

Lasting nearly six months, the recent fraud trial of former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy demonstrated how the Internet is forcing both print and broadcast journalists to think about multiple platforms or mediums for message delivery. The number of articles in national publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times also indicates how much interest this particular trial attracted outside Birmingham, where the trial took place.  It is a perfect case study for the type of customer-driven content that works well on a Web site, but not necessarily on a traditional medium where the news editor or producer decides what is important for the front page or the lead story in a newscast.


Wire Writing, Blog Posting


For those wanting to know every detail about what's happening with the trial, they could log into or "Everything Alabama," the Advance Publications' Web site that showcases content from The Birmingham News and other Alabama news outlets.  A Birmingham News reporter provided multiple updates throughout the day in a form of writing commonly referred to as "wire writing." The reporter realized he or she was no longer just producing content for the newspaper, but constantly feeding a news product with constant deadlines. In the process, reporters used a blogging tool similar to the one used on to write and post their updates for readers to access throughout the day.


This practice raises the question: How many of our students know how to do constant updates on a story recasting paragraphs and updating leads as new information becomes available?


Traditional reporting classes often focus on completing well-written, edited, polished stories for publication.  While that's still an important skill, it seems good old-fashioned wire writing is also a key skill that came in handy for reporters covering trials or other breaking news.  The type of aggressive updating and other news Web sites are now doing is something more and more sites are realizing will drive additional traffic to their Web pages.  Thus, students benefit from being able to respond to the perceived heightened interest of the audience.


TV Reporting On the Web


On the broadcast side, Birmingham's WVTM-TV cross-promoted its "Verdict Watch" Web-only updates with its traditional over-the-air newscasts. This meant that in addition to carrying live reports and some live coverage of courthouse news conferences, the NBC owned-and-operated station also produced specific updates that could be accessed by those outside of the Birmingham viewing area. "A lot of folks across the country want to be updated," said Scott Mauldin, a WVTM reporter, during a recent Web cast. Mauldin noted that those working in offices and within the financial community were of particular concern when the Web updates were developed.


As the jury deliberations at the Scrushy trial moved into their fifth day, WVTM officials decided to add a 10 a.m. update to their 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Web updates. So in addition to doing live reports for an 11 a.m. hour-long newscast and producing packages for the early evening newscasts at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., reporters for the NBC station were expected to go live online for five to 10-minute newscasts just on their story. WVTM did this with a multiple-reporter coverage strategy, which often is the case for large and mid-sized media markets covering a major story.


While many stations today are re-purposing clips from their newscast as video on the Web, few are requiring reporters to produce updates exclusively for a Web audience as WVTM did in this case. Reporter expertise on a story beyond just what is contained in a pre-recorded news package or a live update was particularly critical. Because they were providing special content for the Web, these broadcast reporters were expected to provide commentary and analysis as they reported on the latest happenings at the trial.


This situation raises the question: Should we as broadcast journalism instructors also engage students in learning activities that help them distinguish between these roles of commentator and analyst and "straight news" reporter?


With access to other documents and materials related to the case, those in the Web audience were typically more informed about the Scrushy case than the average local TV viewer. Certainly, the WVTM coverage strategy is the exception, not the rule for most local TV operations. But, how long will that be the case?


What about those Predictions?


Let's use these cases as we reconsider four comments from journalism professors and trainers quoted in the 2002 Quill Article.


COMMENT: "Daily journalists need to embrace the 24-hour cycle with continuous deadlines...and the story needs to be reported and produced for a multiplatform audience," said Andrew Nachison, media center director at the American Press Institute.


Right on.   This is indeed the situation that both the print and the broadcast reporters covering the Scrushy trial realized.  When the 2002 article was published, the newspaper content was being "shoveled" out on the Web site the NEXT day.    WVTM was providing little or no video on its Web site at the time.  Now, the same reporters are working in an environment of continuous deadlines.


COMMENT: "Single-platform stories are rapidly being overtaken by converged ones."


Not so fast.  Actually, most reporters for the so-called legacy media (newspapers, radio, television) are not producing converged stories on a regular basis.   The exception is the Web journalist. As we learned in the coverage of the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI's selection, Web stories are more and more likely going to include some cross-media component. However, single-platform stories are still a staple of most news outlets.


COMMENT: "All journalism students should learn how to build a simple Web page or site for their stories...They should also learn how to do their own shooting and video editing...They don't have to be documentary quality shooters and editors to include good video information in their storytelling mix."


Not quite.  This professor was talking about print journalism students learning Web page construction and video production techniques.  As newspaper Web sites are more than likely using content management tools that require less knowledge about Web page development or design, "Web writing" or the ability to constantly update Web content seems more important today than learning Web page construction.


COMMENT: "Students should be taught how to find, develop and present stories in print, radio, television and online - and understand how to adapt stories differently for each of the different media."


Maybe.   Adapting stories for different media is important, but many in the newsroom say rather than teaching development and presentation for all these media, journalism programs should focus on the fundamental skills and encourage just a familiarity with other platforms.


They say hindsight is 20/20.   The discussion of just how much convergence is enough continues and probably will continue for another three years or more.  The value of outlets like The Convergence Newsletter is that we can constantly revisit this discussion, revise our ideas and adjust our strategies in order to gauge what our students need to be successful.


While we have more concrete cases from stories such as the Scrushy trial, Hurricane Ivan last year or Hurricane Dennis this summer, new technologies are also altering this picture.   In 2002, we weren't talking about RSS feeds and podcasting. Today these all factor into the convergence journalism discussion.



Consumers Push the Envelope, Los Angeles Times Pushes Back


By Charles Bierbauer, Dean of the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies, University of South Carolina


Fresh cement is an invitation to a handprint.  A whitewashed wall begs for graffiti.  A light in the dark beckons to self-destructive moths.


The Los Angeles Times, opening up its editorial columns to wikitorial wags, whims and wastrels, might have expected that it would also wind up with the inevitable mix of the thoughtful, the creative and the irresponsible.  It's the latter, infesting the site with pornography, which caused the Times to abort its invitation to readers to rewrite the paper's editorials.


Ostensibly, the paper opened its virtual editorial pages to stimulate citizen participation.  Unquestionably, the paper sought to perk interest and raise flagging circulation.  There is nothing inherently wrong with trying to raise market standing by rousing a marketplace of ideas. But coarse and crude were hardly the ideas the Times sought.


So why bother?  Does new technology demand a new format for the editorial page?  Was the Times' short-lived experiment another ill-advised because-we-can, rather than because-we-should decision? 


There are two answers.  We applaud the effort to find new ways to participate and communicate. Thanks, as the Times put it, "to the thousands of people who logged on in the right spirit." Unfortunately, as the Times lamented," a few readers were flooding the site with inappropriate material."


But the other response may be to ask, what's wrong with the editorial process as we know it now?  Editorials are, in the first place, the result of a collective effort by an editorial board to determine a paper's view on a significant issue.  Letters to the editor have long provided a venue for public response.  Letters to the editor, of course, may be selectively printed and shortened by the newspaper.  The wikitorial variation is, in contrast, uncontrollable.  Come one; come all.


Clearly, one dilemma of democracies is encouraging participation.  On the other hand, one benefit of democracies is the option to ignore the process.   But journalism, on either its reportorial or editorial side, demands clarity.  The piling-on approach of the wikitorial invites the muddling of multiple opinions virtually layered atop each other.  This is about journalism, not archeology.


With the Web and the blog, hardly anyone is denied a billboard for personal views.  Do your own thing in your own space.


In a sense, the approach the Los Angeles Times might have considered is one that opens the page to broader opinions, but doesn't open the door to indiscriminate postings.  That requires a gatekeeper.  While it's not as dramatic as creating a vast whitewashed fence, it's better than walling off the marketplace.


The media will - and should - continue to explore new ways to engage the public in the communications process. 

Let the experiments continue.  Don't let the socially inept and irresponsible sour the process.  The Los Angeles Times might have better anticipated the consequences of its effort, but we shouldn't be all that surprised.  The Web is, after all, a mix of inspiration and exasperation.


I recently visited Berlin for the first time since the 1989 fall of the wall that epitomized the difference between democracies and totalitarian governments.  Only fragments of that ignominious wall are left standing to remind us.  On one side, it was frequently bloodied as East Germans sought to escape their confinement.  On the western side, the wall was a kaleidoscope of graffiti decrying any attempt to repress the public spirit.  It was not all printable, but it beat the alternative.





Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Convention

Aug. 10-13, 2005

San Antonio, Texas, USA


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.



Visual Edge: Visual Reporting

The Poynter Institute

September 10-16, 2005

St. Petersburg, FL, USA


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


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



Adplexing: Cross-Media Advertising Tools & Techniques


September 19-22, 2005

Columbia, South Carolina, USA


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.



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



Society of Professional Journalists Convention & National Journalism Conference

Oct. 16-18, 2005

Las Vegas, USA


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.



The Association for Women in Communications 2005 Professional Conference

October 20-22, 2005

Lubbock, Texas, USA


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. 



Citizens Media Summit

October 24, 2005

University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA



2005 Online News Association Conference

October 28-29, 2005-October 29, 2005

New York, New York, USA


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.' 



Broadcast Education Association

Convergence Shockwave:  Change, Challenge and Opportunity

April 27-29, 2006

Las Vegas, USA 


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. 





The AEJMC 2005 Convention abstracts have been posted.  Check them out at


Publishing a Book About Convergence?  The Convergence Newsletter regularly publishes information about new and upcoming books on convergent journalism.  Send your submissions to  +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


---------------Publisher and Editorial Staff 


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.


Executive Editor

Dr. Augie Grant



Jordan Storm



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


It may be redistributed in any form - print or electronic - without edits or deletion of any content.



---------------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  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



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