Convergence Newsletter

From Newsplex at the University of South Carolina

Vol. IV No. 5 ( November 9, 2006)

 

Commenting on Convergence

 

By Melissa McGill, editor of The Convergence Newsletter

 

Do you ever have those moments where you just think “I love convergence?” I’ve actually had two since last month’s newsletter. The first was when I realized that ABC posted complete episodes of Grey’s Anatomy on its Web site. The second was at USC’s Convergence and Society Conference where scholars from across the nation presented research concerning ethics, religion and new media.

 

The focus of this issue of The Convergence Newsletter is sharing some of the information presented with those of you who could not attend. David Scott and Daniel Stout discuss the use of convergent media in a Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit and Jeff Wilkinson and Jack Keeler researched how young Christians use new media such as cell phones and MP3 players to enhance their faith, posing the question “iPods and God?” George Daniels presents a case study of StreamingFaith.com, a Web site geared at facilitating Internet broadcasting for faith-based organizations. And since it’s never too early to start planning for next year, a call for papers for next year’s Convergence and Society Conference also appears.

 

Also new conferences and position announcements are listed in this issue. We hope the mix of articles and other pertinent information makes The Convergence Newsletter a useful resource for you. If it is, share this issue with your colleagues and encourage them to subscribe.

 

View past newsletters at http://www.jour.sc.edu/news/convergence/.

 

Melissa McGill is working toward a Master of Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina. Contact her at convergence-editor@mailbox.sc.edu.

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Feature Articles

 

The Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit as Convergent Media: An Analysis of Discovery Center’s Attempt to Integrate Science with Religion in a Conservative Christian Market

 

Uses of Mobile Media to enhance Faith

 

Reconsidering the Electronic Church in the Age of Convergent Media: The Case of Streaming Faith.com

 

Convergence and Society: Media Ownership, Control, and Consolidation Call for Papers

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Conference Information

 

Innovations in Digital Publishing US Study Tour

 

AEJMC Midwinter Conference

 

Media 101: Creating the Future by Understanding the Past

 

Creating Communication: Content, Control and Critique

 

Info Services Expo 2007

 

Expanding the Definition of Convergence and Integration

 

Convergence and Society: Media Ownership, Control, and Consolidation Call for Papers

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New Book on Convergence

 

Cyber Media go to War: Role of Converging Media During and After the 2003 Iraq War

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Faculty Position Announcements

 

Emerson College

 

Bennett College

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

 

The Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit as Convergent Media: An Analysis of Discovery Center’s Attempt to Integrate Science with Religion in a Conservative Christian Market

By David Scott, University of South Carolina and Daniel Stout, University of Nevada Las Vegas

 

Museum studies scholars are recently noting a shift in the manner in which museum exhibits are organized and presented to the public. While early museums were viewed as hegemonic high-brow venues, museums in recent decades have “democratized” their exhibits, adding more interactive features to attract a larger audience. How do inter-active features impact the attendee’s views or experience as participants in a museum exhibit? Do they offer a “preferred text” that is accepted by visitors, or do patrons resist the dominant message in favor of their own subjectivity? This paper addresses those questions with an analysis of the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit presented at the Discovery Place in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

Our analysis follows the approach of similar investigations of traditional media guided by Stuart Hall’s Encoder/Decoder model which predicts, in part, that media consumers’ socioeconomic standing would influence their interpretation of mediated texts. Our analysis of the exhibit demonstrates that religion—rather than class struggle—closes the museum text to many alternative readings. Moreover, we find the science—an integral component of the exhibit—is interpreted by visitors to reinforce their religious values.

 

Beginning with a celebration of the piety of North Carolinians and others in the “Bible Belt,” the museum message appears to be one that superimposed the religious tradition of conservative Christians and locals in the community with the practices of an ancient religious society (the Essenes). Immediately, the origin of the scrolls is localized and placed within the confines of the public memory by comparing the relative size of Israel to North and South Carolina at the beginning of the exhibit. Finally, an appendage at the end of the exhibit offers a history of the Bible and various claims as to its veracity and historical accuracy. While this portion is not sponsored by the Israeli Antiquities Society (the providers of the scrolls), visitors seem unaware that this section is sponsored by a religious organization. Visitors spent little time with the interactive exhibits highlighting the science of the scrolls, preferring instead to spend their time with those components of the exhibit that reinforce the religious merit of scrolls. Moreover, the audio portion of the tour frames the discovery and value of the scrolls within common-sense notions of religious history prevalent among Christians (who place religious authority primarily in the Bible). Finally, the impact of this closed text is further manifest by the written comments of visitors in a guestbook who seemed to experience the numinous in their interaction with the scrolls. However, these visitors also questioned the veracity of science when in conflict with their religiosity.

 

David Scott and Daniel Stout presented this research at USC’s Convergence and Society: Ethics, Religion and New Media held October 19- 21, 2006. For a copy of the complete paper, contact Scott:  scottdw2@mailbox.sc.edu

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Uses of Mobile Media to enhance Faith

By Jeff Wilkinson and Jack Keeler , Regent University

 

Widespread use of new media technologies and personal communication devices continues to impact our attitudes, behaviors and lifestyles. Just as the Internet revolution began in earnest a decade ago, so now the mass adoption of wireless network devices such as the iPod, the cellphone, and the laptop computer have opened up increased demands for new forms of content and ways to communicate.

 

This is especially true for religious communities. An overwhelming number of Americans proclaim themselves to be Christian in their beliefs, and a number of Christian leaders and scholars have voiced concerns about the ways these devices may be used. Since young consumers generally embrace new media in far greater numbers than older ones, among Christians this is a top concern because they're the most volatile and uncertain in their beliefs. To stay relevant and to reach younger people, churches and other religious organizations are also increasingly using new media as tools for fulfilling ministry and communication goals. These devices are seen as a new means of expressing the religious faith.

 

Therefore, this study focused on the creative uses of new media for pro-social purposes such as enhancing an individual's religious belief, practice, and lifestyle. A purposive survey was conducted to explore how these young people use new media for religious purposes or are being influenced by them. The focus was on the role of new media in the lives of young people who profess to be Christians in outlook and lifestyle.

 

In October, 2006, a paper-and-pencil survey was distributed to five different Christian colleges and universities. A total of 275 usable questionnaires were returned. Items specifically dealt with the relative importance of various new media devices in the lives of young people for talking about religion and/or finding information about their faith. Additional questions examined the functions and usefulness of these new media as tools for interacting with others in experiences that relate to their Christian faith. Finally, items examined the influence these new media experiences may have on young Christians’ beliefs and practices.

 

Of the 275 usable questionnaires, 93% were between the ages of 17 and 22. The ratio of male to female respondents was reasonable (n=121 or 44% to n=153 or 56%, one person did not respond). Around 85% listed ethnicity as Caucasian, and all 275 stated they were specifically Christian in their faith. Over 60% (n=169) reported they attended church at least once a week.

 

The most widely adopted device was the cell phone (98%) followed by laptop computer (87%), and iPod (58%). Lagging far behind were devices such as MP3 players (6%), PDAs (5%), and Blackberry (2%).

 

The preliminary findings are general and exploratory, but provide an interesting (though blurry) snapshot of how professing Christians use wireless portable communication devices. Almost two out of three reported they used at least one of these devices for sharing their faith and also two out of three used them to learn about their faith. Due to the exploratory nature of the responses, the Likert scale items were collapsed into simple agree-neutral-disagree responses and rank-ordered. These items were generally phrased as "I use personal communication devices to…"

 

Table 1: Learning about their faith (n=202 out of 275):

 

Item 

Agree

Neutral

Disagree

Store teachings, notes, discussion, debates

49.5

 18.8

31.7

Specifically learned about church history

42.8

20.2

37.0

Learned about other religions

40.9

29.8

29.3

Hear podcasts of sermons or teachings

38.9

13.0

48.1

Visit Christian news web sites

35.1

24.0

40.9

 

 

The same was done for the statements suggesting ways they use the devices to share their faith with others. The results were again rank ordered from highest to lowest.

 

Table 2: sharing with others (n=202 out of 275)

 

Item

Agree

Neutral

Disagree

Stay connected w/Christian friends

93.2

5.3

 1.4

Pray with others

60.1

14.4

25.5

Share with unbelievers

58.9

20.8

20.3

Share Christian music, videos, & pics

47.3

21.3

31.4

Share with others through my home page

31.3

11.5

57.2

Share with others when visiting a blog, newsgroup or chatroom

29.0

19.3

51.7

Share with others through my own blog

26.1

18.8

55.1

 

 

 

The data confirmed the notion that a substantial percentage of young Christians are employing these devices in positive ways that enhance their faith. This includes sharing with others and learning more about what they believe. A sizable number actively use the Internet to share, either via homepage, blog, or visiting chatrooms.

 

While most of the respondents did not believe these devices affected them for better or worse, fully one-third agreed that these devices were "addictive." Further analysis on this and other findings is needed and will appear in a future report.

 

Finally, for three specifically Christian behavioral measures (reading the bible more, going to church more, praying more), less than 10% agreed and over 60% disagreed on all three items. This supports the comforting idea that technology is amoral and users adapt the technology to their beliefs, habits, and lifestyles.

 

Jeff Wilkinson presented this research at USC’s Convergence and Society: Ethics, Religion and New Media held October 19- 21, 2006. Contact Jeff for a copy of the complete paper: jwilkinson@regent.edu

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Reconsidering the Electronic Church in the Age of Convergent Media: The Case of StreamingFaith.com

By George Daniels, University of Alabama

 

This case study was conducted to bring a new dimension to the scholarship in religion and media arena by studying the relatively short history, media strategies and client base of StreamingFaith.com. Having only existed in the 21st century, StreamingFaith.com is an ideal exemplar to advance the discussion of the electronic church.

 

Streaming Faith, LLC, began in 2000 with a vision of providing ministries with state of the art technology that empowers them to share their message with a worldwide audience. In addition to providing audio and video feeds over the Internet, StreamingFaith.com touts itself as the online outlet to increase a ministry’s REACH, REWARD, and RETURN.

 

Its promotion to churches on its Web site focuses on being the “end-to-end solution for Internet ministry.” This comes in three major ways: giving churches their own channel on the Internet, providing a live stream for worship services or just an outlet for streaming programming. Viewers are able to view some ministries on-demand while others airing on a Web-based network at a scheduled time.

 

Likening his company to America Online, StreamingFaith.com President Chance Mason says the fee-for-services model is used to support his portal site that’s a destination site aggregating content. The fees are paid by ministries who air church services, talk programs and music videos. For the user, who provides an e-mail address and ZIP code to register, the site is home base for an online community that not only provides faith-based programming, but editorials, discussion boards and announcements. Within the next few months, StreamingFaith.com expects to rollout an e-commerce component.

 

Both of the largest Christian television networks- Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and Daystar Television Network stream their signals over the StreamingFaith.com site. They are joined by at least a half-dozen other smaller regional networks available on a limited number of cable systems. While the existing networks using StreamingFaith.com has grown, Mason believes his company still works best as an alternative to “expensive” over-the-air broadcast time.

 

“When you look at what it takes to go on a local TV, you’ve got to have cameras and the same things you have to have to maybe go live,” said Mason, who agreed to a wide-ranging interview conducted as part of the case study.  “Going direct to Internet can be very cost-effective.”

 

The interview with the man in charge of StreamingFaith.com along with observations at both the corporate headquarters in Atlanta and the data center in LaGrange, Ga. constituted the qualitative components of this study. The quantitative analysis of the client base for StreamingFaith.com continues as of this writing.

 

Based on the first stage of analysis of nearly 500 clergymen who stream religious programming on the site, it is clear most of those ministries are using the site for providing pre-recorded programming.  Only about 18 of the ministries are allowing the programming to be provided in a downloadable format for podcasts.

 

At least four of the key televangelists mentioned in the electronic church literature have associated themselves and their ministries with StreamingFaith.com. Perhaps the most controversial of all, Jim Bakker, who served five years in prison after his conviction on fraud and conspiracy, on an early release is not only on-the-air, but streaming “The New Jim Bakker Show” on StreamingFaith.com.

 

Associated with the program and listed separately is Bakker’s second wife, Lori. Also listed along with his wife is Kenneth Copeland, another figure from the 1980s electronic church debate. Dr. Robert Schuller’s “Hour of Power” known as America’s television church is part of Streaming Faith via its broadcast on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. While Oral Roberts himself is not listed, his son, Richard and wife Lindsay are on StreamingFaith.com.

 

In the age of convergent media, faith-based programs and religious organizations often get left out of the discussion. By conducting this analysis of not only the philosophy behind StreamingFaith.com, but the ministries and television networks it considers its clients, this study brings a new set of players to the cross-media, cross-platform discussions: a faith-based organizations.

 

George Daniels presented this research at USC’s Convergence and Society: Ethics, Religion and New Media held October 19- 21, 2006. Request a copy of his complete paper by emailing him: gdaniels@ua.edu

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Convergence and Society: Media Ownership, Control, and Consolidation Call for Papers

A Convergence Conference at the University of South Carolina, October 11-13, 2007

 

The convergence trend has been accompanied by a trend toward consolidation in ownership and control of both traditional and emerging media. Some debate whether one trend is a cause of the other, or whether the two are the result of other developments in media technology, regulation, and consumer behavior. This conference provides a forum for the presentation of essays and research regarding the interrelated themes of media convergence, ownership, control, and consolidation. Papers and panels may include institutional, content, audience, cultural, political, philosophical and technological perspectives on one or more of the conference themes. Abstracts, completed papers, and panel proposals for this conference should deal with the primary conference themes or related issues including:

 

Studies in competition, localism, and diversity, especially as related to current FCC inquiries

Trends in media convergence

Innovative theoretical perspectives

Case studies in convergent journalism

Issues in teaching media convergence, convergent journalism, and media economics & management

 

The purpose of this conference is to provide a scholarly exploration of these and related issues, with discussions ranging from democratic quandaries to the business opportunities posed by the changing media landscape.

 

Faculty and graduate students are invited to submit in one or more of three categories:

1. Completed papers

2. Proposals or abstracts of papers in progress

3. 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.  The conference will be accompanied by a "Showcase of Convergence Media Processes and Practices"; complete information on the Showcase is available at http://Newsplex.sc.edu.

 

The conference is sponsored by the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies at the University of South Carolina, and Newsplex, an advanced micro-newsroom training and research facility dedicated to news presentation techniques emerging from the convergence of print, broadcast and online media. Newsplex is a joint project of the College and Ifra.  The conference will take place in historic Columbia, SC, located midway between the Atlantic beaches and the foothills of the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains.

 

Papers, proposals, abstracts, and panel proposals should be addressed to:

Augie Grant, Conference Chair

                  MOCC Conference

                  College of Mass Communications and Information Studies

                  Carolina Coliseum

                  Columbia, SC  29208
E-mail: augie@sc.edu

 

Submission guidelines:

Electronic submissions (Word or RTF attachments) are preferred (send to augie@sc.edu).

A separate "cover page" file should be included with the title of the paper or panel and authors’ names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses.

Submission deadline (postmark) is June 15, 2007.  All submissions will be jury-reviewed with notification to authors and organizers on or before July 31, 2007.

 

For registration and further information about this academic conference, visit the conference Web site at:  http://Newsplex.sc.edu.

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

 

World Association of Newspapers/World Editors Forum

Innovations in Digital Publishing US Study Tour

Nov. 27-Dec. 1, 2006

http://www.wan-press.org/studytour2006/

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AEJMC Midwinter Conference

December 1-3, 2006

New Orleans

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

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BEA Call for papers

Media 101: Creating the Future by Understanding the Past

April 18-21, 2007, Las Vegas

Submissions due Dec. 4, 2006

http://www.beaweb.org/bea2007/calls/callpaper.html

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Texas Tech University Call for Papers

Expanding the Definition of Convergence and Integration

April 19 & 20, 2007

Lubbock, Texas

http://www.depts.ttu.edu/masscom/about/newsstories/convergentcallpapers.pdf

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57th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association

Creating Communication: Content, Control and Critique

San Francisco, CA, May 24-28, 2007

http://www.icahdq.org/conferences/index.asp

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60th World Newspaper Congress/ 14th World Editors Forum

Info Services Expo 2007

June 3-6, 2007, Cape Town, South Africa

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Convergence and Society: Media Ownership, Control, and Consolidation Call for Papers

University of South Carolina October 11-13, 2007

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---------------New Book on Convergence

 

Cyber Media go to War: Role of Converging Media During and After the 2003 Iraq War

Edited by Ralph Berenger/Foreword by Everette E. Dennis

 

This edited compilation addresses the Internet’s role in the creation and distribution of news during the war in Iraq.

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

 

Emerson College

Department of Journalism (Two Positions)

 

The Department of Journalism in the School of Communication seeks to fill two full-time faculty positions, one in Online Journalism and one as a Journalist-in-Residence. The Department of Journalism prides itself on its cutting edge technologies, strong professional alumni network and convergence-oriented curriculum. It seeks candidates who thrive on innovation in a cross-media environment. When applying indicate Online Journalism or Journalist-in-Residence position and send a cover letter, curriculum vitae, evidence of teaching effectiveness, and names of three references to:  : Journalism Search Committee, Department of Journalism, Emerson College, 120 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116. Both appointments begin September 2007.

 

Online Journalism

The Department of Journalism seeks a full-time, tenure-track faculty position at the Assistant Professor rank specializing in online journalism. A Masters degree and professional journalism experience are required. The ideal candidate will have both teaching experience and an established career in web or cross-media journalism and in print or broadcast news. Responsibilities include teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, advising students, and demonstrating commitment to the academic community. Review of applications will begin November 1 and continue until the position is filled.

 

Journalist-in-Residence

The Department of Journalism in the School of Communication seeks to fill a full-time, one-year Term (non-tenure, non-renewable) faculty position beginning September 2007. Professional journalism experience and a minimum of a Masters degree required. The ideal candidate will have both teaching experience and an established career in print, broadcast, online or cross-media journalism. The Department of Journalism prides itself on its cutting edge technologies, strong professional alumni network and convergence-oriented curriculum. It seeks candidates who thrive on innovation in a cross-media environment. Responsibilities include teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, advising students, and demonstrating commitment to the academic community. Applications will be accepted and reviewed until the position is filled.

 

For more information, visit:  http://www.emerson.edu/academic_affairs/faculty/Faculty-Employment.cfm

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Bennett College

Department of Journalism and Media Studies

Assistant Professor, Broadcast Journalism and Electronic Media

 

The Department of Journalism and Media Studies (JMS) is a growing department with a faculty that embraces diversity. We are looking for an enthusiastic and energetic colleague with strong communication skills and a good record of teamwork. We are especially interested in applications and nominations for a dynamic and creative leader who can assist in implementing the Department's newly developed concentration and can assist our efforts in attaining ACEJMC accreditation within the next six years. The position is for Assistant Professor, Broadcast Journalism and Electronic Media. This is a ten-month, full time, tenure-track position, which is available August 2006.

 

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, resume with salary history, and three (3) letters of recommendation to:

Human Resources, Job Code 06-0711BGB,

Bennett College for Women, 900 East Washington Street, Greensboro, NC 27401.

 

For more information, visit: http://www.bennett.edu/positionvacancies/06-0711BGB.pdf

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

augie@sc.edu

 

Editor

Melissa McGill

convergence-editor@mailbox.sc.edu

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

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---------------Formatting

 

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.

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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.

 

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 convergence-editor@mailbox.sc.edu.

 

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.