Convergence Newsletter

From Newsplex at the University of South Carolina

Vol. V No. 1 (July 2007)


Commenting on Convergence


By Melissa McGill, editor of The Convergence Newsletter


It’s been a busy month for us at The Convergence Newsletter. Newsplex hosted several convergence workshops and we’re excited by the number of submissions coming in for USC’s Convergence and Society Conference taking place this October. 


I stayed busy with a three-week-long Media and Politics Maymester class taught by Charles Bierbauer, Dean of USC’s College of Mass Communication and Information Studies and former CNN Correspondent in Washington, DC.  The class spent one of the three weeks in DC, meeting with Washington Post columnist George Will and also Chief Justice John Roberts at the Supreme Court. We also sat in The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, and witnessed firsthand the interaction between the media and the government.  Closer to home, we also observed the South Carolina Republican Presidential debate which took place across the street from the Journalism School.


One thing that emerged from these experiences was how important convergence and new media are to all areas of communication. During our afternoon at CNN, Political Director Sam Feist offered this advice: “Commit yourselves to journalism. The platforms, they're flexible."  The message, not the method by which it is communicated, is what is most important.


With that in mind, this issue features an article from Will Folks, a South Carolina political blogger on the unresolved question “Are bloggers journalists?” and Mich Sineath of AEJMC/ASJMC offers a preview of the sessions concerning convergence at the AEJMC Annual Convention on August 9-12, 2007 in Washington, DC.  Also, appearing in this issue are a call for papers for a special issue of the International Journal on Media Management and a brief description of the convergence efforts taking place at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln courtesy of Barney McCoy and Jerry Renaud, the first in a series highlighting convergence at the university level in upcoming issues.


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


Crashing the Fourth Estate’s Party


Convergence at AEJMC


Special Issue of International Journal on Media Management





Conference Information and Calls for Papers




Convergence and Society: Media Ownership, Control, and Consolidation


Online Fundamentals for Newsroom Leaders


Call for Papers—Special Issue of International Journal on Media Management



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


Crashing The Fourth Estate’s Party

By Will Folks, founding editor of


Earlier this year, NBC Nightly News editor Brian Williams echoed the frustration felt by many in the mainstream media as a result of the “rise of the blogs,” i.e. that budding movement of citizen-driven “journalists” nobody seems to know what to do with just yet.


“All of my life, developing credentials to cover my field of work, and now I’m up against a guy named Vinny in an efficiency apartment in the Bronx who hasn’t left the efficiency apartment in two years,” Williams complained.


Last December, an assistant editor at The Wall Street Journal put it more succinctly, saying that blogs were “written by fools and read by idiots.”


As the founding editor of – a political blog here in South Carolina – you might think I’d be in a rush to defend my brothers and sisters in the blogosphere in the wake of comments like these. And because often breaks stories that end up in the newspapers the next day, you might even think I fancied myself as something of a journalist.


Well, I don’t think I’m a journalist. Not most days, anyway. And having worked with real journalists on a daily basis for four years as a gubernatorial press secretary, I can appreciate their frustration at having to compete with a new method of mass communication that doesn’t always play by the rules.


Having said that, bloggers do play a key role in the ever-expanding “marketplace of ideas,” – a role which traditional journalists would be wise to understand before categorically dismissing.


First of all, while blogs are certainly the latest craze to hit our information-hungry society, it’s important not to overstate their significance.


In the political arena, blogs still serve predominantly as aggregators and critics of mainstream news coverage, with much of their “original content” piggybacking off of content provided by traditional news outlets. Usually, bloggers are fiercely partisan, overtly partial to a specific candidate or issue, and yes, not especially talented or insightful – all reasons why most of them receive only a handful of visitors a day.


But to paint all of the Fourth Estate’s unwelcome party guests with the same brush of indifference would be a big mistake. Many blogs do publish informative, well-documented treatises on newsworthy items. Opinions which are first formed and given voice in the blogosphere often become integral components of conventional political wisdom.


Mainstream media outlets have also recognized the growing influence of blogs by incorporating them into their own information arsenals. From the Washington Post to the Hilton Head Island Packet, reporters, columnists and editors everywhere are using corporate-sponsored blogs to supplement their news outlets’ traditional coverage in an effort to better compete in an evolving marketplace.


So, just as bloggers are sometimes journalists, journalists are also sometimes bloggers.


Simply put, access to reliable information and the ability to form compelling arguments based on that information are two forces which cannot – and should not – be confined. No matter what the mode or medium of communication, proven facts and persuasive opinions invariably rise to the top, just as stories that prove baseless or opinions lacking in merit invariably wind up on the bottom. 


Sure, we should take anything we see or read these days with an ocean of salt, and admittedly blogs are more likely to include factual errors and misstatements than reports from more established media. But the fact that blogs are forcing people to “trust but verify” a little bit more as they take in their daily dose of information is a healthy thing, just as the more opinions we are exposed to on a given subject, the more informed our views on that subject will ultimately be.


The bottom line is that as long as journalists, bloggers and the people who read and react to their work continue to think for themselves, there’s plenty of room at the party for everybody.   


Mr. Folks is founding editor of, one of South Carolina’s most popular political blogs.



Convergence at AEJMC Annual Convention

By Mich Sineath, AEJMC/ASJMC Public Relations/Marketing Specialist


Got convergence? We do! Kicking things off with an all-day convergence seminar, the AEJMC Annual Convention lets you network with educators, students and practitioners from around the globe.


This year, we’re taking over the nation’s capital with special keynote speaker - top television journalist, Bill Moyers; a first-hand look at the presidency and politics with former White House correspondent, Helen Thomas, and a special Hot Topics panel, “Chaos and Carnage at Virginia Tech: The Challenges and Responsibilities of Covering a Crisis.”


The AEJMC Annual Convention

August 9 – 12, 2007

Washington, D.C.




All-day Convergence Seminar


Part I: From the Industry: Practicing Convergence, with special guests: Greg Brock, senior editor, New York TimesJames Brady, executive editor,; and Steven Petranik, 24/7-news editor, Honolulu Advertiser.


Part II: From the Academy: Teaching Convergence

*Stuck in a 20th Century University: The Challenges and Rewards of Preparing Students for the 21st Century 24/7 Newsroom


*Producing Traditional Journalists Who Can Function in a Chaotic Media Environment


Part III:  Experience From On-Campus:  Multimedia Reporting


Experiences and lessons from campus multimedia reporting. Panelists will share their experience of teaching and practicing media convergence. This session will include take-home lessons that participants can incorporate into other classes, such as writing, editing, photo and broadcast.


Part IV:  Finding Balance:  Teaching Software vs. Critical Thinking


How should we balance the teaching of new technology with critical and creative thinking? This Socrates Café style roundtable will be a spirited discussion on the impact of new media in our classrooms. How do we prepare our students for technological change and adoption when the software release we may be teaching today is obsolete by the time students graduate?


Part V:  Resources for Teaching Multimedia Skills


Presenters will share their valuable experiences of teaching multimedia using available resources: “Pocket Journalism,” Soundslides, “10 Steps to Better Interactive Graphics,” blogging and Flash. Attendees will receive handouts to take home the skills they will need to teach their own students.




*Convergence in the Classroom: A Survey of How Mass Communication Academics Are Confronting a New Paradigm


*Caution:  Media Convergence Zone Ahead: How to construct a student news blog centered on community reporting


*Using Blogs for Community Learning: The intersection of Web 2.0 and convergence education


*From Convergence to Emergence:  Opportunities and Challenges in Teaching Journalism and Mass Communication Beyond Our Comfort Zones




*Preparing Journalists for the 21st Century




*Teaching Media History in an Age of Convergence


*Maintaining Quality in the Face of New Media Pressures




*The Growing Role of Teams and Collaboration in Online News Media Practice



Call for Papers: Special Issue – Beyond Interactive: Media Management in the Era of Participatory and Personal Media


A 2008 issue of The International Journal on Media Management (JMM) will be dedicated to the management challenges traditional and new media organizations face responding to the growth in participatory and personal media.


The issue will focus on theoretically based research that addresses the market and management issues associated with on-demand media and consumer-created content.  Research focusing on any media sector is welcome, as is work based in any appropriate methodology.  Empirical research is particularly encouraged.


Topics of particular interest in the theme issue would include, but are not limited to:


*Strategic management and competitive positioning of media products based on on-demand or consumer-created-content models


*Challenges of forecasting demand for on-demand media and the implications of demand uncertainty for financial and production models


*Challenges of forecasting both supply and demand for participatory media and implications of supply and demand uncertainty for content management


*Effective business models for media products based on on-demand distribution or consumer-created-content


*Consumer utility, uses and gratification, and gratification opportunities in relationship to on-demand and consumer-created content


*Structural, cultural and leadership issues in media organizations using on-demand or consumer-created-content business models


*New product-development processes used by media organizations in the development of on-demand or consumer-created-content products


*The place of on-demand or consumer-created content in media product portfolios


*Branding and brand management of on-demand or consumer-created-content media products


*Quality control of audience generated content


*Copyright and payment issues


*Use of audience-generated content as a public relations, marketing and branding tool


*Other related topics are welcome.  If  you have questions about a possible topic, please contact Dr. Ann Hollifield at 706-542-4966; or


Submitted papers should be no longer than 5,000 words, excluding tables and figures.  Please submit manuscripts by email to Dr. Ann Hollifield (  The deadline for manuscripts to be considered for this issue is September 1, 2007.



NewsNetNebraska at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln


NewsNetNebraska is produced by students in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Working together in one of America's first converged newsrooms, broadcast and print student journalists at UNL develop story ideas, interview sources, take photographs and shoot video as they produce regular, updated content for NewsNetNebraska. Students also produce video and audio podcasts for the Web page.


NewsNetNebraska produces its own Web page with primary content focused on the latest breaking news, sports and weather information.   Redweek magazine, Star City News and other student oriented CoJMC publications also contribute to the NewsNetNebraska Web page.


Throughout the school year, the NewsNetNebraska Web page attracts roughly 1,000 unique visitors a day.  Articles published on NewsNetNebraska have drawn visitor feedback from the United States, Canada, Mexico as well as countries in Europe, Africa and Asia.


The goal is to teach students real world convergence skills as they create an online publication that can be updated whenever news dictates. NewsNetNebraska is produced throughout each fall and spring semester at UNL.


This year, NewsNetNebraska was honored with the Eric Sevareid Award for "Best Web site" by the Northwest Broadcast News Association. It's the fourth consecutive year that NewsNetNebraska has received the recognition. NBNA represents radio and television journalists working in Iowa , Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.


Professor Jerry Renaud said the Sevareid Award underscored the growing "professional competence" of CoJMC students who contribute to NewsNetNebraska. "It shows our students are on the cutting edge of what's happening in the news industry as far as convergence is concerned."


Associate professor Barney McCoy added, "The students who contribute to NewsNetNebraska work hard producing solid content for the Web page. They're learning skills that will make them more productive in the journalism jobs they hold after graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln."



---------------Conferences and Calls for Papers



Washington, DC, August 9 – 12, 2007



Convergence and Society: Media Ownership, Control, and Consolidation

University of South Carolina October 11-13, 2007



Online Fundamentals for Newsroom Leaders


October 30, 2007November 1, 2007

Deadline: August 27, 2007



Call for Papers—Special Issue of International Journal on Media Management

Deadline September 1, 2007



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



---------------Copyright and Redistribution


The Convergence Newsletter is Copyright © 2007 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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