The Convergence Newsletter
The Convergence Newsletter

From The Newsplex at the University of South Carolina

Vol. VII No. 9 (November 2010)

Convergence and online content

By Amanda Johnson, Editor

Web content such as video and audio used to supplement printed content or substitute for it in newspapers and magazines is a sign of convergence. As a part of Missouri Western University's Global Journalism Research course taught by Dr. Robert Bergland, undergraduates Austin Jacobs, Emily Gummelt and Todd Fuller researched convergence here and in other countries. They presented their findings at the 10th annual Convergence and Society Conference at the University of South Carolina and recap those findings here.

Jacobs analyzed the multimedia features of Mexican newspaper websites, while Gummelt studied web content of the top U.S. magazines. Fuller analyzed findings about the interactivity and functionality of newspaper websites.

Also in this issue is the latest Research for the Newsroom from Clyde Bentley, associate professor at the University of Missouri.

The Convergence Newsletter welcomes articles and feedback from all our readers. Our topics issues are Newsrooms - February, International - April and October, Convergence and Communities - June, and Convergence in the Classroom - August. In other months we publish various submissions.

The newsletter does not exist without your articles. We bridge academic research and professional practice and are especially interested in research in gestation and descriptions of professional practice. We welcome work by graduate students and relevant book reviews. Please see the end of the newsletter for submission guidelines.

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


Featured Articles

Multimedia features in Mexican newspaper sites: A comprehensive analysis

Magazines and their websites: A 2010 study

A content analysis of U.S. weekly newspaper websites: Interactivity and functionality

Research for the newsroom


Quick Glance Calendar (Details)

March 4-5: AEJMC Midwinter Academic Meeting, Norman, Okla.

March 17-19: AEJMC Southeast Colloquium, Columbia, S.C. (paper deadline Dec. 13)

March 18-19: Media & Civil Rights History Symposium, Columbia, S.C.

June 6-10: Newsplex Summer Seminar: Teaching and Research in Convergent Journalism, Columbia. S.C.

June 13-17: Newsplex Summer Seminar: Convergence Software Boot Camp, Columbia, S.C.

June 15: Papers due for October Convergence and Society Conference, Columbia, S.C.

August 10-13: AEJMC Convention, St. Louis (paper deadline April 1)


Featured Article

Multimedia features in Mexican newspaper sites: A comprehensive analysis

By Austin Jacobs, Missouri Western State University

Many studies have been done about media convergence, but little has been done on the state of convergence in Mexico. This study examined 120 Mexican daily newspapers to see whether they had websites and what kind of multimedia features were present.

It is important to understand the Internet situation in Mexico, and more specifically the country's broadband penetration. Many features of what people consider a modern website, such as video, audio, and interactive graphics, require high-speed Internet for full utilization. Mexico has a 3.5 percent broadband penetration rate, and one would assume this would affect the usage of advanced newspaper websites.

A previous study, "Digital Divide or Digital Development? The Internet in Mexico," by James Curry and Martin Kenney, examines the demographics of Mexico and the gap between the rich and poor. Curry and Kenney examine whether the Internet will help to close this gap or make it wider, leading to the hypothesis that historically wealthier, more urban areas would probably yield higher multimedia usage than less wealthy rural areas.

A content analysis of the websites of 120 Mexican daily newspapers listed in Editor and Publisher International Yearbook involved tallying each site's advanced features in three categories: multimedia, like video and audio; interactivity, like polls and comment sections; and distribution, like an RSS feed or PDF of the newspaper. Among the three categories were a total of 35 features.

It was expected Mexican newspaper sites would have fewer features than their counterparts in more technologically developed countries like the United States and Canada. It was also expected that broadband penetration would be a major factor in the number of features, with more developed areas likely to have sites that use more features.

Of the 120 newspapers, 18 didn't have websites, a significant number. Of the 102 websites, 33 were operated by the Mexican Editorial Organization (O.E.M.), which owns those newspapers. All the websites operated by this company were almost identical. This means that out of 120 newspapers, 69 own and operate their own websites.

Of the 102 newspaper websites, 39 had video, representing almost 40 percent of those studied. Thirty of the 39 produced their own videos rather than posting data from an outside news organization, strong evidence of convergence being staffed and budgeted for.

Not as many of the sites had audio. While 37 of the sites had podcasts, for most it was an O.E.M. podcast that was not newspaper produced and was the same on all of the sites. Four sites produced their own podcasts, and 16 had different forms of audio like interviews and music.

It is not surprising the largest number of technological factors were found in the distribution category because the first aspects of convergence newspapers are going to embrace are those that help to get the paper to more people. Sixty of the 102 websites allow users to embed the articles on their Facebook pages. Twenty-five newspapers had their own Facebook page, more strong evidence of convergence in these newspapers and further along than might have been thought - a good deal behind the U.S. but on the same level as, if not more advanced, than some Canadian newspaper sites.

Austin is a journalism major and Spanish minor at Missouri Western State University. He can be reached at


Featured Article

Magazines and their websites: A 2010 study

By Emily Gummelt, Missouri Western State University

Multimedia tools continue to expand and diversify, affecting not only newspaper content, but magazine content as well. With new tools such as the Apple iPad and various applications on the iPhone, print content may soon make the complete transition to online, as its convenience appeals to today's high-tech users more frequently on the go.

Several studies have analyzed newspapers' websites. A few - but not so many - have analyzed magazines' websites to determine whether they are being used as an outlet for this online transition. Using these websites and other studies, this study compares the existence of multimedia tools on these sites. The top 100 magazines in circulation were analyzed using the one-pass system for the existence of certain multimedia and interactive features on their websites. The study evaluated the sites based on elements such as audio, video, podcasting, blogs, message boards, polls, RSS feeds, a bookmark/share option, widgets, and similar items.

Fourteen magazines were eliminated because they required user registration (Seventeen Magazine, Remedy MD, ESPN the Magazine, Home and Away), had been discontinued (Domino), lacked a web site (Good Housekeeping, Woman's World), were not considered commercial publications (all AARP and AAA publications), offered subscription services (First for Women) or inappropriate for research (Playboy included mostly inappropriate Web content, such as nude photos and videos).

Results showed 83 percent of the magazine websites included a slideshow and 76 percent included some type of video. Two magazines included a link to a version of the website in Spanish, eight magazine websites included sharing widgets and Digg, 60 percent included an RSS feed, and 48 percent offered a "most popular" feature, which showed the most read, commented or e mailed stories for the day.

Analyzing the websites of more magazines, and not just simply the top 100, might have shown different results, but the population was limited by resources: Only one person conducted the research, and evaluating each website took considerable time.

Multimedia features on magazine websites have significantly increased, even within the past three years, an indication that magazines are trying to advance with the times and cater to the lifestyles of busy people. Sites are making it easier for people to view content at any time of day.

Magazines have been slower to transition to online than newspapers. One reason may be that newspapers are produced for more of a general audience while magazines are created for different groups, not all of whom may be avid Internet users. The genre of magazine might play a part in the lack of or presence of certain multimedia features.

The study had its limitations; including the time frame and the fact that only one person conducted the study. Looking at more magazines may have shown a more significant increase in certain multimedia features. Future research could include a study to look at the multimedia features of magazines in three years. By then, magazines may change and adapt to the increase in computer usage.

Gummelt is a 2010 graduate of Missouri Western State University now working at the St. Joseph News-Press as a page designer and copy editor. She can be reached at


Featured Article

A content analysis of U.S. weekly newspaper websites: Interactivity and functionality

By Todd Fuller, Missouri Western State University

One of the biggest obstacles facing many media outlets is how to capitalize on the Internet and how best to profitably take advantage of its ability to disseminate information more quickly than any other form of media.

Newspaper websites [1] have been around for more than 15 years and have been constantly evolving and changing the way they interact with their consumers. However, small, community-based weekly newspapers in the U.S. remain understudied. This research involves a content analysis of 365 U.S. weekly newspaper websites patterned after a 2007 study of content, distribution and interactivity on the websites of North American dailies by Bergland, Crawford, Noe, and Ellsworth [2].

Based on a review of the literature, especially the work of Bergland, Crawford, Noe, and Ellsworth, and a review of several daily and weekly newspaper websites, a 31-item list was created. These items fit into three main categories: distribution capabilities (such as mobile phone and e-mail updates of breaking news), interactive features (such as blogs and reader polls), and multimedia (such as video clips).

Using a random number selection method and an interval of 17, an initial group of 365 weekly papers was chosen from the list available in Editor & Publisher for 2009. Of those, 246 had a functioning website viable for coding. A content analysis then categorized the features found on the papers' websites based on the 31-item list.

The presence of a functioning website appears to be influenced by circulation. Among weekly newspapers with circulations of less than 2,500, 43% did not have a website, while 18% of those with circulations over 15,000 were without a website.

The primary way of interacting with readers is the comment section available at the end of articles. Nearly two-thirds, 63%, of the sites studied offered this feature.

Photo galleries were by far the most widely used form of multimedia utilized on websites, with 61% including some type of photo section.

Of the websites observed, 32% contained self-produced video content, with many using YouTube and embedding links in their own site.

Over the last few years it has become the vogue for people to share their chosen content on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook allows for more freedom in posting, which may be why 25% of the newspapers are dedicated to maintaining a Facebook account, edging out Twitter at 22%.

This study shows that weekly newspapers' websites are utilizing many of the features of larger media outlets, but that few offer all of them. However, these features are likely to become more common on websites of all sizes as the ability to export information from print becomes easier and as the ability for producing all types of media becomes easier for audience members.

[1] Coulson, D., Lacy, S., & Wilson, J. (2001). Weekly newspapers- Solid industry with many variations. Newspaper Research Journal 22, no. 3: 16-29. (Return)

[2] Bergland, R.; Crawford, L.; Noe, S.; and Ellsworth, M., (2007) Multimedia Features and Newspaper Websites: A 2007 Content Analysis of Daily Newspapers. Convergence and Society Conference, University of South Carolina, Oct. 10, 2008. (Return)

Fuller is a non-traditional journalism student, juggling a full-time job, family and nearly full load at Missouri Western State University. He is also the assistant news editor of the Griffon News. He can be reached at


Featured Article

Research for the newsroom

By Clyde Bentley, University of Missouri
Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute

When I'm trying to size up an audience, I often find myself humming a jingle from an old auto ad: "Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet." Linking yourself to basic values is a winning strategy that applies equally well to politicians, pickup trucks and newspapers. The trick is to figure out what those basic values are. Fortunately, the research world provides a helping hand this month.

Americans appear to be a lot more satisfied with their newspapers than they are with incumbent lawmakers, according to the new Pulse Research "Pulse of America" study.

The Portland-based company worked with newspapers across the country this fall to recruit 1,186 people for an online survey designed to gauge the mood of the nation as reflected in their shopping plans and media preferences. Respondents came from all 50 states.

Those surveyed heard about it in the print or online edition of a paper and then self-selected to participate, but it's heartening to hear that 95% of the respondents had read their local paper in the past 24-hours. While the survey didn't gauge news readership, its advertising statistics indicate the paper is being used for more than fish wrap. Retail ads were read frequently or always by 67% of the respondents. Despite Craigslist, classified ads drew frequent-or-always readership from 56% of the respondents.

While more than 54% said they were somewhat or very confident about their personal job security, 53% were pessimistic about the stability of the economy, and the purchase plans reported by the respondents paint a picture of Americans who are cautious, but still ready to spend on items that provide real utility.

Unlikeable newspapers
Amy Zerba, a print and online journalist for 18 years, is now an assistant professor at the University of Florida facing up to that gut-wrenching newspaper question: Why don't young folk like me?

Zerba conducted eight focus groups in three cities to look at why young adults 18-24 years old and 25-34 don't read print newspapers. She drilled down to get past pat answers like "its inconvenient" or "I don't have time."

When young people say a paper is inconvenient, they often went beyond the hassle of picking the paper up from a newsstand to include the physical effort of flipping pages and holding and carrying the paper. Environmentally conscious young adults disliked having to find a recycle bin for the paper when a computer can simply be turned off. As one might expect, the computer generation is also impatient with the update time for print products, and they feel a newspaper doesn't allow them to multitask the way the Web and television do.

Respondents complained that a newspaper carries too much information for them to easily sort through – there is no Google that takes them to that great little story on Page 12. But they also did not like the "morning routine" image of newspapers. Theirs is a world of news-on-the-go, not news and a cup of Joe.

The ideal paper they described to Zerba: brief-and-facts-only articles, local news, diverse perspectives, a magazine size or book-like feel, and a table of contents.

The technology they like
Facebook rather than Twitter, PC rather than e-reader, low-level blogging but news on the smartphone -- welcome to college life 2010. The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology polled students for an enlightening look at the digital lives of U.S. young adults.

The annual survey of nearly 37,000 college students showed close to universal daily use (90.4%) of Facebook or MySpace, but Twitter and similar microblogs were checked by less than half (43.3%) of the students - and then only a few days per week. That became a 77% - 21% split when the students took their social networking to their mobile phones - leaving Twitter a somewhat weak mobile publishing strategy.

The only daily tech habit that exceeds Facebook is (no surprise) text messaging (92.3%).

Desktop PCs are passe - almost 90% of the students used laptops or netbooks. E-readers, including the Kindle and the iPad, were just a minor blip when the survey was conducted from February to April. The researchers realized, however, that the iPad boom started just months later and could change the statistics in the next edition of the survey. But the real rising star among platforms is the mobile phone. Nearly half the students said they use a phone to surf the Web every day. And 85% of them checked news, weather and similar information.

The Woman Web
The Internet now vies with chats as the vehicle of choice for the woman-to-woman network that some experts say drives much of American society. Researchers from Harbinger and Ipsos found that only 28% of the women polled make purchase decisions without seeking some kind of advice.

The survey of U.S. and Canadian women showed that 70% rely on Web sites to research buying information, though 58% still seek word-of-mouth advice. By far (92%), the women said they prefer to tell family and friends about best buys face-to-face. However, 32% posted to Web sites, 27% put it on their Facebook or MySpace page, 11% blogged and 7% tweeted.

It's a good reminder to journalists that they are just one part of the news flow - and that the message may go through many filters before reaching the person-formerly-known-as-reader. Much of our job is providing the basic information that goes into the person-to-person network. The challenge is to pull enough revenue from that complex system to support the reporting that feeds it.

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

AEJMC Mid-Winter Academic Meeting

University of Oklahoma, Norman

March 4-5


AEJMC Southeast Colloquium

Columbia, S.C.

March 17-19


Media and Civil Rights History Symposium

Columbia, S.C.

March 18-19


AEJMC Papers Due

April 1, 2011


Newsplex Summer Seminars

Teaching and Research in Convergent Journalism: June 6-10

Convergence Software Boot Camp: June 13-17

Columbia. S.C.


Papers due for October's Convergence and Society Conference, Columbia, S.C.

June 15, 2011


AEJMC Convention

August 10-13, 2011

St. Louis


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: Amanda Johnson

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Submission Guidelines

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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