Convergence Newsletter

From Newsplex at the University of South Carolina

Vol. IV No. 4 (October 4, 2006)


Commenting on Convergence


By Melissa McGill, editor of The Convergence Newsletter


Bringing together various sources of information on the ongoing dialogues about convergence, this issue features a list of frequently updated blogs addressing convergence, as well as information on convergence conferences, encompassing opportunities both to learn and to contribute.


The assortment of blog sites listed in my article are ones that I have found helpful in discerning current trends, analyses and news in convergence. Augie Grant discusses blogs and some of the issues that go along with them, in conjunction with blog research to be presented at the Convergence and Society Conference at the University of South Carolina later this month. Paul Lieber, who will be presenting at the USC Conference, briefly discusses his research on Selective Disclosure in Strategic Communication, a sneak peek of what is to come for those attending the conference. Michael Parkinson of Texas Tech University contributes a call for papers for his university’s upcoming Expanding the Definition of Convergence and Integration colloquium.


Blogs, conferences, conferences about blogs…there is definitely a theme to be found here.


View past newsletters at


Melissa McGill is working toward a Master of Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina. Contact her at



Feature Articles


Navigating the Blogosphere


Religion, Blogs, and Journalism—Making Connections at Carolina


Selective Disclosure in Strategic Communication: Ethical Justifications in a Convergent World


Expanding the Definition of Convergence and Integration Call for Papers



Conference Information


Convergence and Society: Ethics, Religion and New Media


AEJMC Midwinter Conference


Expanding the Definition of Convergence and Integration



Faculty Position Announcements


Truman State University



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


Navigating the Blogosphere

By Melissa McGill, editor, The Convergence Newsletter


Apparently, Microsoft Word spell checkers are the only people for whom the term blog is not instantly recognizable (they think it should be “bog”). The abundant presence of weblogs on every conceivable subject has made blog a household word and makes getting information on the web easier than ever before. Within minutes, you can find weblogs written by reporters at the nation’s top newspapers, Iranian bloggers commenting on socio-political issues or even students and professors working with admissions at Wofford College, a tiny Southern liberal arts college.


But navigating the blogosphere in search of the ones relating specifically to convergence proves to be a more difficult task. Encountering this problem as I began to work with this newsletter, I sought the help of Doug Fisher, journalism instructor at the University of South Carolina (whose own blog was mentioned in last month’s newsletter), to compile a list of substantive blogs that discuss convergence regularly. I hope this list, though certainly not comprehensive, provides a useful starting point in locating blogs of interest.


Confessions of an Aca/Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins

Henry Jenkins, the Director of MIT Comparative Media Studies Program, blogs on media convergence, participatory culture and collective intelligence, expanding these concepts from his recently-released book Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. Feeds are available.


Convergence Culture Consortium at MIT (C3)

A partnership between thinkers and researchers affiliated with the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT and companies interested in convergence, C3 frequently updates a blog on convergence, focusing on three core concepts of transmedia entertainment, participatory culture and experiential marketing. Sam Ford, a Masters of Science candidate in Comparative Media Studies at MIT and Henry Jenkins, the Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program blog most frequently. Feeds are available.


Corante Media Hub

Calling itself a “starting point for keeping abreast of the best writing and thinking on the media industry,” the Corante Media Hub brings together the blogosphere’s most respected writers of various fields. Including editorial and network posts, the Corante Media Hub provides a sort of one-stop shopping for getting a variety of observations on the “radical forces reshaping the media landscape.” For a complete list of contributors, visit Posts can be received through an RSS feed, via email or in a weekly “best of” email.

This extensive site is written, edited and published by Jonathan Dube in partnership with the Online News Association. This site has several unique features including a Great Works Gallery, highlighting examples of excellence in online journalism, a Weblog Blog, focusing on the influence of blogs on journalism and the J-Bloggers: CyberJournalist List of weblogs written by journalists, called "the most comprehensive list of blogs produced by journalists" by Nieman Reports. The site also includes Top Headlines, Citizen Media Monitor, Convergence Chronicle and Business Bytes sections. Subscription methods include email and RSS feeds.


Editors Weblog

This site was launched by the World Editors Forum with the goal of providing a “unique rendez-vous point” for editors and senior news executives to discuss and be informed of new media issues and their effects on journalism. This blog is divided into a News section and an Analysis section. Topics in the News section include editorial quality, newsroom management, citizen journalism, print and online convergence and anything else related to “the newspaper renaissance.” The Analysis section features more in-depth posts including personal views. Posts can also be divided into categories such as citizen journalism, multimedia convergence or ethics to pinpoint your specific interests. RSS feeds are also provided.


E-Media Tidbits

E-Media Tidbits, through Poynter Online, is a group weblog focused on online media/journalism/publishing. Updated daily, this blog features short blurbs, “tidbits” if you will, on current happenings in the industry. Posts are available through RSS feeds and daily e-mail newsletters.



A self-proclaimed “guide to the digital media revolution,” MediaShift tracks new media (including blogs, podcasts, citizen journalism, wikis, news aggregators, etc) and their impact on society and culture. More nifty features are “The Week’s Top 5: People, Trends, and Tech on our Radar” which highlights recent happenings and “Your Take” which encourages readers to respond with their response to an important media-shifting question of the week.


Vincent Maher – Media in Transition

This blog by Vincent Maher, the head of the New Media Lab at Rhodes University, South Africa, discusses media convergence with an emphasis on blogging and citizen journalism. Feeds are available.


Blogs such as these provide insight into convergent journalism as well as providing up-to-date information and news. Where textbooks explain concepts, blogs tell the stories behind the concepts, discussing them from a more personal standpoint. The impressions and interpretations found in blogs deepen the understanding of both the novice and the expert.


This list is merely a starting point and as such, I anxiously await your response to these blogs and suggestions for others worth noting. Please e-mail with other recommended blogs focused on convergence for possible inclusion in a future article.



Religion, Blogs, and Journalism—Making Connections at Carolina

By Augie Grant, executive editor, The Convergence Newsletter


In preparing the agenda for the Convergence and Society conference that USC will be hosting October 19-21, the biggest surprise was the number of papers submitted dealing with blogs. I had expected a few papers on the subject, but did not expect that I would have enough papers to fill an entire session on blogs and religion.


These and other papers on blogging that will be presented at the conference demonstrate the popularity and utility of blogging, but they also represent a challenge to those studying convergent journalism: Where do you draw the line between bloggers and journalists?


The complication is that many journalists have taken to blogging. The motivations are as varied as the blogs: some traditional journalists use their blogs to communicate additional information that may not make it into print or on the air, some use their blogs to solicit input and reactions from readers, some use blogs to deliver opinions that would not be appropriate to publish as part of news stories, etc.


The problem is that the blogosphere is not limited to either journalists or non-journalists. Rather, the work of professionally-trained journalists may appear side-by-side with the ideas and creative output of individuals who know little or nothing about the process or practice of journalism.


Because they may perceive their musings as the equivalent of those of journalists, these members of the public may further begin to think of themselves as journalists. From a legal perspective, it will be interesting to see where the courts ultimately draw the line between journalists and members of the public who are sharing their observations—or whether a line will be drawn at all.


This conundrum creates an opportunity for journalists and journalism educators to explicitly share journalistic principles and ideals in an effort to model the responsibilities of journalists that separate them from the public. (The word "training" is the first word that came to mind in describing what some bloggers need, but the immediate realization was that those bloggers who could benefit most from such training are probably also the ones who are least likely to take advantage of it.)


The second opportunity that emerged from this conundrum is the opportunity to establish professional standards for journalists' blogs. The nature of these standards is beyond the scope of this article, but questions to be addressed might include: To what degree should a journalist be encouraged or allowed to share their personal opinions on subjects or people that they are reporting on? Does it make a difference whether the blog is found on or linked to the Web site of the journalist's employer? Do the same high standards of editing and fact checking applied in journalism also apply to journalists' blogs?


One reason I'm looking forward to the Convergence and Society conference later this month is to get a few answers to these questions from research papers on the subject that will be presented by Serena Carpenter and Janet Kolodzy. But I'm just as eager to hear the four other presentations that deal specifically with blogs and religion so that I can look for common threads and patterns that may help make theoretical connections between blogs and more traditional media.


There are more than two dozen other reasons I'm looking forward to the conference—with each paper or presentation providing insight into the three interconnected themes of the conference: ethics, religion, and media convergence. Theme sessions on each of these topics with explore these topics in depth, identifying commonalities and connections across the themes. Other sessions relate research on new media, theoretical perspectives on convergence, the evolution of community journalism, and, of course, issues in teaching convergent journalism.


I'm looking forward to seeing many of you at the conference. In the meantime, The Convergence Newsletter Editor Melissa McGill will be contacting many of the presenters at the conference, inviting them to prepare brief summaries of their research that can be shared in future editions of this newsletter.


Grant is an associate professor and Newsplex Academic Liaison at the University of South Carolina.



Selective Disclosure in Strategic Communication: Ethical Justifications in a Convergent World

By Paul Lieber, presenter, Convergence and Society: Ethics, Religion and New Media and assistant professor, University of South Carolina


While commonly used and completely legal, selective disclosure remains a controversial practice in strategic communication. This practice persists even in an age of media convergence, where information is abundant and access to it, seemingly, only a click away. Does this ease of access offer greater leeway for communicators to invoke selective disclosure to its information-empowered audience? Related, can information truly be withheld in a digital age powered by Google, blogs and global information exchange? The purpose of this research was to explore just that: the ethics of strategic communication, selective disclosure from a convergence perspective.


The first part of this research examined public relations history, hoping to gain a better perspective on industry standards of disclosure from the days of field creation to the present. As the vocation sought more mutually beneficial relationships with its publics, ethical information obligations gained greater saliency. Industry codes were likewise examined both to highlight disclosure allowances plus penalties for improper communication practice. None of these codes, it was discovered, possess sufficient enforcement methods to curtail rampant disclosure conduct. Carr’s (1968) concept of bluffing as ethical business strategy and Bok’s (1989) justification for lying with good intention added further insight to selective truth telling usage. Carr viewed the practice in line with poker strategy; Bok preferred ethical intent in favor of outcome.


Such practices, however, were not without consequence. Three Mile Island, the Ford Explorer/Firestone debacle and Air Canada’s stock plunge incident were listed as instances of selective disclosure practices gone horribly awry. In all three instances, target publics – meant to benefit from strategic communication – were instead literal victims of deliberate over-concealment.


Borrowing from Air Canada, the research then examined partial truth telling in other fields from a media convergence context. Air Canada highlighted the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s Regulation Fair Disclosure (RegFD): financial legislation, an arguable by-product of digital information access and its accompanying communication expectations. Civil engineers were spotlighted for similar selective truth telling challenges, faced with having to weigh public safety concerns versus a duty to employer. In short, preventative bridge closures might save lives but at a cost of widespread panic plus traffic nightmares.


As could be expected, justifications for selective disclosure varied widely across disciplines. System Theory (Cutlip, Center & Broom, 2000), Resource Dependency Theory (Pffefer and Salancik, 1978), Political Special Interest Theory (Berry, 1989), and Economic Theory (Williamson, 1975) were grouped together under a greater ‘issue advocacy’ umbrella to better explain these justifications. The Australian Computer Society Code of Ethics (2002) and The Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct of the Association for Investment Management and Research (AIMR) (Barrass, 2002) were similarly noted for their attention to selective disclosure conduct. Once again, such codes were found to be unenforceable.


A broader, general analysis of subjective communication ethics, however, uncovered surprising support for selective disclosure. Returning to public relations theory in particular, from this new perspective the Attorney-Adversary Model (Barney & Black, 1994), Deaver’s (1994) 4-stage Truth Continuum and Petrick’s (1997) management-centric guidelines (combined with classical ethical theory) provided a handful of solid roadmaps to ensure proper usage of selective truth telling practices.


Research conclusions were mixed. While selective disclosure remains an unpopular practice in public relations, the field’s various models and theories ethically justify its usage. Moreover, this practice simultaneously remains common across several other vocations and their codes, an everyday reality for finance, engineering, business and computing. Finally, none of the analyzed, theoretical models specifically address information availability and/or convergence issues when suggesting appropriate disclosure practice. In sum: more research and/or modern models are sorely needed.


Lieber will present his complete paper at USC's Convergence Conference October 19; copies are available upon request by emailing:



Expanding the Definition of Convergence and Integration Call for Papers

A research colloquium at Texas Tech University April 19 & 20, 2007


Papers invited include research proposals or completed research that addresses any of the following:

  1. The interaction of multiple media
  2. The use of media among or directed to Hispanics or other ethnic groups
  3. The use of media across multiple nations, languages and/or cultures
  4. The effects of convergent media on media economics.


Papers will be discussed, not presented, in a round-robin format that encourages collaboration and development.


Papers are invited from:

  1. undergraduate students
  2. Master’s students
  3. Doctoral students
  4. Faculty and professionals


Top papers in the top three categories will receive up to $1000 in travel assistance.


Deadline for submission is December 1, 2006


Papers should be addressed to:

Michael Parkinson

College of Mass Communications, Texas Tech University

PO Box 43082

Lubbock, Texas  79409



For more information, see





University of South Carolina College of Mass Communication and Information Science and the Ifra Newsplex

Convergence and Society: Ethics, Religion and New Media Conference

October 19-21, 2006

Columbia, SC USA


Since September 11, 2001, ethics and religion have emerged as important topics in the study of new media. At this conference, the moral implications of emerging media are addressed at the levels of society, culture, and the media professions. It is a forum for scholars, media professionals and theologians to discuss converging media from the standpoint of competing values.



AEJMC Midwinter Conference

December 1-3, 2006

New Orleans



Texas Tech University Call for Papers

Expanding the Definition of Convergence and Integration

April 19 & 20, 2007

Lubbock, Texas



---------------Faculty Position Announcements


Truman State University

Division of Language & Literature


1. Two Positions: Communication-Journalism – Tenure-Track Assistant Professor Truman State University announces two tenure-track positions in Communication-Journalism beginning Fall 2007: Assistant Professor of Communication.

Teaching Responsibilities: Teaching a full-time course load in a combination of print, broadcast, and convergent/new media writing and production, and other journalism courses; as well as advising student media on a rotating basis

Required Qualifications: Ph.D. in Communication or related area in hand before start of Fall 2007 semester; evidence of teaching effectiveness; evidence of excellent communication skills; evidence of scholarly activity


2. Communication – One-Semester Full-Time Temporary Instructor in Journalism

Truman State University announces a full-time, one-semester, temporary position in Communication-Journalism during the Spring 2007 semester (January 8 – May 5): Temporary Instructor in Communication.

Teaching Responsibilities: Teaching three or four sections of journalism/media courses in some combination of Media Writing (print and broadcast), News Reporting (print and broadcast), Magazine and Feature Writing, Publication Design, and/or History of American Journalism

Required Qualifications: M.A. in Communication-Journalism or related area; evidence of teaching effectiveness; evidence of excellent communication skills


See for more information and complete position announcement, or send letter of application, vita, graduate and undergraduate transcripts (copies acceptable for now), a statement of teaching philosophy and commitment to the liberal arts and sciences and student development, three recent letters of recommendation, names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of three references, and evidence of teaching effectiveness to:

Dr. Heinz Woehlk, Dean

Division of Language and Literature, MC 310

Truman State University

Kirksville, MO 63501

Reviews will continue until the position is filled.



---------------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

Augie Grant, Ph.D.



Melissa McGill



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The Convergence Newsletter is Copyright © 2006 by the University of South Carolina, College of Mass Communications and Information Studies. All rights reserved.


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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 Please include your name, affiliation and contact information with your submission.


If you would like to post a position announcement, include a brief description of the position and a link to the complete information. All announcements should be submitted to The Convergence Newsletter editor at


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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