Reframing convergence in journalism


Thoughts jotted on a whiteboard. Click to enlarge.

Convergence is a buzzword that’s been used to describe trends in media since the ’90s, but what do we mean when we say it today? As journalism reinvents itself, we frequently hear about convergence in the context of multimedia reporting, of print and web coming under one roof, of the converged newsroom.

But it’s more than just that, I think. Convergence is the blurring of borderlines between groups and ideas, and it’s happening on multiple levels from micro to macro.

  1. The micro level is on an individual scale: convergence of the traditional forms of text, photography, video and audio and the evolution of the multitasking, multimedia reporter who writes, shoots, records and edits on the go.
  2. The next level is on a group scale: media organizations branching out across fields as they go online, collaboration and content sharing between companies, and the rise of the link economy and reverse syndication model.
  3. The macro level is on a societal scale: old media as a one-to-many institution is crumbling as social media charges through the breach in all its many-to-many glory. Meanwhile, the barriers between news organizations and the communities they serve are being dismantled with the rise of crowdsourcing, citizen journalism, and community-funded reporting.

So there you have it, another way of looking at convergence in journalism — how far it’s come along, and where it’s taking us next.

Comments

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  • Cisco

    So, while the micro level is pretty nifty for us journalists, I think the macro level is my favorite. I like how the one-for-many has flopped over into many-for-one (y’know, it has a nice Three Muskateers ring to it). Of course, this means that I have little need for the 10 o’clock news, but on the other hand, I can go into my Online Favorites folder, bring down a travel blog, then jump over to the BBC for some global, jump over to CNN or New York Times for some comparison or a different angle, then skip on over to McSweeneys or Maddox for some humor. And the best part is, no commercials.

  • Keith

    I believe that one of my favorite Web sites, alternet.org, is an example of what Jackie lays out in her second tier. While the site does have some of its own original content, the majority of it is an amalgamation of stories from various other sites including CNN, The Nation Magazine and TruthDig. This is a far cry from Time and Newsweek working together, but it is a good and productive way to spread information at a relatively low cost for the organization. On the macro side, for citizen journalism to be considered factual and for it to operate within the boundaries of proper ethics, it must be moderated. I enjoyed reading about Oakland Press actually training citizens before recruting them into the ranks of citizen journalists.

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