The Convergence Newsletter

Vol. VIII No. 4 (June 2011)

Redefining Journalism Education in a Digital Sense

By Jack Karlis, Editor

There isn't much about media that isn't digital now, but that continues to raise questions about whether education systems internationally are equipped to meet the needs of the digital creative industries. EU nations and the U.S. have been on different paths in approaching the issue: The U.S., as might be expected, more laissez faire, while Britain, for instance, has been more inclined to treat it as a matter of national policy.

But convergence is rapidly breaking down barriers and bridging oceans, making such questions cross-national concerns. The result is an EU-U.S. funded study designed to bring industry and education together to find answers and make recommendations to policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic. The work goes beyond journalism and media to encompass a wide range of related digital creative industries - but that's part of the challenge, determining what should be included.

In this issue, Executive Editor Doug Fisher, a member of the study group, provides a more detailed explanation and asks, on behalf of the researchers, for your ideas and, especially, for nominations to industry panels that will be established as part of the work.

The Convergence Newsletter welcomes articles and feedback from all our readers.

Our topics issues are Convergence in Newsrooms - March, Convergence and Communities - June, and Convergence in the Classroom - August. In other months we publish various submissions.

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We are especially interested in work by graduate students.

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Featured Articles

Researchers seeking help in digital creative industries study


Quick Glance Calendar (Details)

August 10-13: AEJMC Convention, St. Louis

October 27-28: 10th Annual Convergence and Society Conference: Sustainability, Journalism and Media Regeneration

November 17-20: National Communication Association Convention, New Orleans


Featured articles

Researchers seeking help in digital creative industries study

By Doug Fisher, University of South Carolina
Executive Editor, The Convergence Newsletter

The rush to digital - it's no longer advisable to call it a transition - is disrupting and re-creating the media landscape, from journalism and publishing, to public relations and marketing, to cinema, to gaming. As Mark Deuze and others demonstrate in Managing Media Work [1], we may be entering an era of digital creative nomads (also known as the "gig" or "pitch" economy), with new challenges for education and society.

There are extensive debates about whether students are being properly prepared to navigate this rapidly evolving digital media world. Much of the debate has centered on journalism education, though the doubts about whether higher education can meet the needs of workers and businesses in these turbulent times go far beyond that.

At the same time, digital creative industries increasingly are being seen as important in reviving both national and regional economies [2].

Although members of the European Union and the United States have so far tended to approach policy on digital creative industries differently (see item 4 below), they both are funding a consortium, of which I am a member, to examine the challenges and make recommendations to government and education policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic. As part of the two-year study, we will also create industry panels to advise on needs, problem areas, ways to improve education and - especially - ways to improve communication. These panels will be online affairs, with a minimal time requirement from participants.

The Institute for Digital Innovation at Britain's Teesside University leads the consortium, joined by Sweden's Gavle University. In the United States, the University of Iowa is the lead school along with the University of South Carolina.

One of our key jobs is to identify needs for training in the digital creative industries. We have a dual focus:

  • Professional skills, including technology and creativity.
  • Business and entrepreneurship skills.

Not surprisingly, we are finding wide variance, even in defining digital creative industries. It's a broad area that generally encompasses what we think of as traditional media jobs (journalism, public relations, publishing, film and TV, etc.) plus aspects of the arts (music, performing arts, visual arts, etc.), all of which have been affected by the shift to digital.

We need your help, with minimal effort on your part

  1. Help us identify people to approach for the industry panels. We have no monopoly on knowledge in this area. For those you nominate, please give us contact information, if you know it, and a sentence or two on why they'd be great for this.
  2. Help us define digital creative industries. Do we include the arts, which some researchers do? If so, how should we reconcile more "tech" and profit-oriented enterprises with the more creative and nonprofit aspects of the arts? And even in the tech area, there are variations; Australia, for instance, includes gaming, but not software. How should we deal with those opaque areas?
  3. Tell us what's working, what isn't working and why. We need good examples of both. Good policymaking does not happen in a vacuum; it works best when we can point policymakers to examples of how it should be done - and how it shouldn't.
  4. Give us your thoughts on how much digital creative industries should be central to economic development (and by extension, education's role in that). Europe and Australia have, for the past decade, made nurturing of creative industries central to their development strategies, often nationally. In the U.S., we find very little coordination, with much of the work left to the local level where we often find leaders following the sometimes-controversial work of Richard Florida. So what should our policies be?
  5. Tell us what education's role should be in all this. In Europe, there is no bashfulness about using "vocational education" and talking about how educational institutions can better align training with industry needs. We suspect if put that way, it would be anathema on many U.S. campuses, especially given accreditation strictures. So how do we better prepare students, taking into account the market into which we will launch them? How do we, to use that buzz phrase, do the "technology transfer"? And what role does entrepreneurship play in all this (and can we really even teach that)?
    Remember, we're not framing this just as journalism and communications. Digitization is erasing artificial demarcations. What do we or don't we know about other facets of digital creative industries and education?

How can you give us your ideas?

  • Feel free to email me at Please put "Atlantis" somewhere in the subject line.
  • We also have a Digital Creative Industries page on Facebook, and we'd love to have you contribute there.
  • If you would like to be included in periodic updates, let us know and we will enroll you in a special Facebook group. Don't feel that once you've said something you can't reload and come back. This needs to be a conversation. And please, also spread this message along your networks. We need to be able to see over our own horizon.

We may not come up with solutions, but just clarifying the issues and recommendations going forward would be useful and influential.

[1] Deuze, M. (Ed.) (2010). Managing Media Work. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

[2] Foord, J. (2008). Strategies for creative industries: An international review. Creative Industries Journal. 1(2). 91-113.


Announcement: Participants needed for current events study

If you teach an introductory media writing class, we would like to invite you to participate in a study involving current events tests that will take place this fall. We need classes from public and private institutions for the study.

For 10 consecutive weeks, the project will provide your class with an online current event test specific to your community each week. Students will be asked to complete a pre- and posttest as well. Instructors of record will be asked to allot 10 minutes of class time once a week for the current events test.

If you are interested in participating in this study, please contact Jack Karlis before Aug. 1.


Conferences, Training and Calls for Papers

AEJMC Convention

St. Louis

August 10-13


10th Annual Convergence and Society Conference: Sustainability, Journalism and Media Regeneration

Oct. 27-28,

Columbia, S.C.


National Communication Association Convention

New Orleans

November 17-20


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

Editors: Amanda Johnson/Jack Karlis

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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.

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