The Convergence Newsletter

From The Newsplex at the University of South Carolina

Vol. VII No. 5 (June 2010)

Creating Community

By Matt McColl, Editor

Convergence and social media have given society powerful tools once reserved for the traditional media. Access to technology and creativity allow for anyone to disseminate a message and build a following.

In this issue, Blake Arambula, a founder of the band Death of Paris, discusses his guerrilla social media campaign to promote and create an online community for the band that included letting fans see its first studio sessions in almost real time.

In a new feature, we begin running Clyde Bentley's "Research for the Newsroom," in which the University of Missouri professor provides a look at current research with pertinent information for media professionals

We here at The Convergence Newsletter welcome articles and feedback from all our readers.

We are especially seeking articles for the upcoming year, starting with our classroom issue in August, our two international editions, and our issue on communities and convergence.

Please e-mail articles or suggestions to us at You can comment on all articles at The Convergence Newsletter blog.

Contact Matt McColl, editor of The Convergence Newsletter,

View past newsletters at Visit The Convergence Newsletter blog at


Featured Articles

Band on the Run: Building a Fan Base from Afar

Research for the Newsroom: Making Us Tick


Quick Glance Calendar(details)

Aug. 4-7: 21st Annual Asian American Journalist Convention, Los Angeles

Aug. 4-7: Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications annual conference, Denver.

Oct. 11-12: 2010 Convergence and Society: Health & New Dimensions of Communication, Columbia, S.C.

Nov. 14-17: National Communication Association Conference, San Francisco

April 1-2, 2011: AEJMC Convention Papers Due


Feature Articles

Band on the Run: Building a Fan Base from Afar

By Blake Arambula

When my band, Death of Paris, and I began finalizing plans to travel to Los Angeles to record our debut album, we had a problem: no one knew who we were. We had never played a concert, and none of the fans of my old band knew I formed a new one. We had to find a way to share our music from thousands of miles away with potential fans and allow them to discover the band, interact with it, and share it with others.

Our solution: a Flip Video Camera and the Internet.

Without any new music to give to new fans, we substituted the next best thing: video. After recording an introduction to the new band and making a point of showing the transition from the old one, we posted it to YouTube. Since the Flip camera records in high definition, the videos were clear and professional - perfect for disseminating our message. After posting the initial video, I used social media sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to pass the video link on to all my friends.

Within a few days, the introductory video had close to 300 views, and then the idea hit me. By harnessing this power to create a product and disseminate it through the Web, I could figuratively bring our fans "into the studio" with us. The old fans had become the new fans, and this was the chance to build our story with them watching it unfold.

Using Facebook as our social media site of choice, mostly because of its simplicity and the ease of messaging all your friends at once, we created an event to invite everyone who was our "friend." While most Facebook events typically last a few hours, such as concerts, our event was from May 2 to May 19, when we would be in the studio. If they replied to the invitation, fans would get messages from the band. This created a sense of community among fans who could interact with both the band and one another as the recording process developed.

To supplement that sense of community, Death of Paris TV, our YouTube channel, was born as our way of bringing the studio to the fans. Before leaving Columbia, we filmed our first real episode in the back of my van. Attaching the camera to a microphone stand and using a work lamp for lighting, we recorded a four-minute video where we described our plans, including recording and concerts.

Over the course of the 2 1/2 weeks, we filmed nine more episodes in the recording studio as we created our debut album, with each giving a day-by-day account of the work accomplished. These anecdotal videos weren't limited to studio time, but also showed our adventures to Universal Studios, Hollywood Boulevard and late-night explorations through Los Angeles.

YouTube was our main hub from which all the videos were hosted, but by linking each video in each member of the band's Facebook and Twitter accounts we could direct our friends from one social network to another. For all the Facebook fans who replied to the event, we could easily link to new episodes. By constantly updating our Facebook pages with video links and status updates from the band‘s Facebook account, our fans could stay informed.

Using social media worked well. By the end of the recording process, we had gained over 100 fans on our Facebook page, nearly 30 new followers on Twitter and almost 1,500 views on YouTube. The social media sites had done the grunt work for us. By linking the status updates, we had to post only one update and all accounts would do the same.

One challenging aspect was deciding how much information to give out at a time. At times we had recorded two to three videos but found it difficult to choose whether to upload them together or at different times. We eventually concluded that we didn't want to oversaturate fans with information and that spacing out each video would give audiences something to look forward to.

Whether it is a journalist writing about a newsmaker, or a band making the news itself, the ways to reach an audience through social media are similar. Just as the band has news to share with its audience, it can also let audience members know when a newspaper or TV has a story about the band.

Even after recording, using social media as a means of marketing will stay in my band's repertoire of successful techniques, as it should for anyone who wants to share his or her work this way. Not only does it work, but it also allows for interaction between the fans and the band on many levels, a key attribute of Web 2.0 sites. With some creativity, drive, and a little journalistic intuition thrown in, you can play both the news gatherer and the newsmaker, and hopefully keep some fans along the way.

Blake Arambula is a former student at the University of South Carolina and currently resides in Los Angeles where he is a member of the band Death of Paris.


Research for the Newsroom

By Clyde Bentley, University of Missouri

Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute

Editor's note: As a new feature for readers, The Convergence Newsletter in cooperation with Professor Bentley and the Reynolds Journalism Institute will periodically run excerpts from "Research for the Newsroom," Bentley's look at current research of potential benefit to media professionals. We encourage you to read the entire work at research-roundup/index.php

Making us tick: A 17-member team of researchers from around the world recently boiled down the influences on journalists to just six general topic areas. Led by Thomas Hanitzch of the University of Munich, the academics each interviewed 100 journalists from their 17 countries, using a standardized questionnaire to probe for what the news people said drove their work.

The myriad answers ranged from deadlines to government officials to editors and advertisers. Hanitzch's team used a computer program that looked for similarities in the answers and clustered them into "principal components." The result after several more statistical checks was a list of six influences in this order:

* Professional influences

* Procedural Influences

* Organizational Influences

* Reference Groups

* Economic Influences

* Political Influences

That economics and politics were at the bottom was somewhat surprising. Both, the researchers said, were powerful factors but were trumped by traditions, policies, the relentless news cycle and similar factors. A large part of "Reference Groups" is the audience, also lower than I expected.

The study was reported in the spring edition of Journalism and Mass Communications Quarterly.

That list could be an incredible subject for a newsroom retreat. The best way to minimize undue pressures is to identify them. Recognizing that all journalists feel similar pressures and then trying to name examples in each of the six categories could be a major eye-opener to both line journalists and management.

A related study in the same edition of JQ tries to determine if news organizations act more like institutions or businesses. Wilson Lowrey of Alabama and Chang Wan Woo at Wisconsin conducted a national survey of editors that measured how they respond to uncertainty and then performed a content analysis on the newspapers of those editors.

One way theorists distinguish between "institutional organizations" and "business (aka rational-choice) organizations" is how they handle uncertainty. The former tends to meet challenges with procedures and traditions. Business organizations respond to uncertainty by monitoring their markets by and acting on their needs. Lowrey and Woo said institution-type newspapers are "loosely coupled" with audiences and business trends so they do not need to respond "to every ill wind that blows." Think of the wall between advertising and editorial.

Business-type organizations are tightly coupled to customers and constantly monitor market changes. For newspapers, that means intensely monitoring the audience and the business environment, then responding by tweaking operations.

The editors and their papers were both institutional and businesslike. The surveyed editors do indeed monitor their audiences - at least their online metrics ¬- but that doesn't always lead to changes in their practice. Increased competition, in fact, leads to more mimicry in newspaper websites. Also, increased monitoring of audience metrics doesn't always lead to stronger coupling with the marketing functions of the organization.

The lesson is that newspaper editors are on the right track by watching the online responses of their audiences. But if they look at the reader stats and then go looking for a ready-made solution developed by another paper, they are just falling back into an institutional mode. Balancing "let's give them what has always been our job to provide" with "let's give them what they want" has become a major pressure in newsrooms.

The Gender Switch: Newspapers' efforts to equalize the opportunities for women in the newsrooms and front offices are old hat. But the emergence of women as the dominant U.S. market force is likely to change the products we produce.

Newsweek's Rana Foroohar, in "The Richer Sex: Companies had better cater to women," tells how 35 percent of wives in dual-income families make more than their husbands and that the average woman will make more than the average man by 2024.

The peg for Foroohar's story was Hewlett-Packard's new netbook -- an elegant "digital clutch" styled like a makeup case. Even at $599 - double other netbooks - it is flying off the shelves.

Check Unicast's "What Women Want for the Web Report 2010," which not only noted that women make 85 percent of all brand purchases and control $7 billion in annual spending, but also that "keeping up with the news" was second (67 percent) only to "connect with family and friends" (76 percent) when asked what they plan to do online this summer.

A good piece in Toronto's Globe and Mail gives a more universal list of tips. Like marketers of retail goods, publishers can only reach women by paying attention to the details they want. Take a hard look at your news operation and ask:

* What am I offering her as a product?

* How is it packaged?

* Am I giving her the gift of time?

* Am I giving her an experience?

* What does she need to get out of it?

* What would she be delighted to get out of it?

* What little tweaks can I make along the way?

"Then make sure it does the job," she said Jill Nykoliation, strategist for the Juniper Park ad agency. "Women don't tolerate things that don't do the job. Get that right and wrap it in an experience."

Clyde Bentley is a professor at the University of Missouri Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute and can be reached by e-mail at


Conferences, Training and Calls for Papers

AAJA 21st Annual National Convention

Los Angeles

August 4-7


Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication annual conference


Aug. 4-7


Convergence and Society: Science, Health, and New Dimensions of Communication

Columbia, S.C.

Oct. 11-12


National Communication Association Conference

San Francisco

Nov. 14-17


AEJMC Convention Papers Due

April 1-2, 2011


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 Doug Fisher

Editor Matt McColl

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The Convergence Newsletter provides an editorially neutral forum for discussion of the theoretical and professional meaning of media convergence in all forms including technological, organizational, operational, psychological, and sociological. We welcome articles of all sorts and encourage those addressing the subject in new ways and with new perspectives. We also accept news briefs, book reviews, calls for papers and conference announcements. Our audience is both academic and professional; the publication style is AP for copy and APA for citations. Feature articles should be 750 to 1,200 words. Other articles should be 250 to 750 words; announcements and conference submissions should be no more than 200 words. Please send all articles to The Convergence Newsletter editor at along with your name, affiliation and contact information.

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