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Convergence and Society – Day 2 / Oct. 12, 2010

These are running notes by Bill Densmore of the ninth-annual Convergence and Society conference at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. on Oct. 11-12, 2010. If your study is reported here, please feel free to review for accuracy and use the wiki features to make corrections, add material or link off to another site. Or just email me with updating material and I'll put it in. BACK TO FIRST DAY PROCEEDINGS


Platform shift in a decade of convergence / Susan Keith, Rutgers Univ.

  • Some institutions are pulling back from convergence because they are worried that if they merge print and broadcast they are missing opportunities to complete within the enterprise for advertising in different platforms.
  • Technology change goes through six steps: Breakthrough, replication, empiricism, theory, automation and maturity.
  • Lend suggests a “hype cycle” starting with technology trigger moving to “peak of inflated expectations” leading to a “trough of disillusionment” and a level out of expectations to productivity.
  • The idea that some organizations are pulling back from convergence may reflect a misunderstanding. Actually they never really bought into the idea in the first place but just went through the notions.

Her proposal: Four quadrants

  • Technology
  • Culture
  • Regulation
  • Profitability

Each has equal weight in the model in a four-quadrant square. She calls for testing the model in newly launched or invigorated partnerships, in predictions and other ways.

News without ink: Online journalism models: Jennifer Cox, Univ. of Florida

A call to prescribe innovation in online news sites to differentiate them from existing newspaper web sites that are out there.

Who is a journalist?

  • News is produced by journalists so journalists are people who produce news
  • Journalists define themselves as professionals, adhering to ethics codes, norms and taking training to learn skills.
  • Those who provide news – information in the public interest

Technology innovation always seen as threatening journalism

  • But it adapts, as the technology continuously reshapes the practices
  • Innovation is the process of adoption and diffusion / but newspapers slow to innovate – shovelware
  • People tend to be familiar with technology, but don’t have ideas to innovate with it, so technology is used for technology’s sake only.
  • Online startups have embraced online interactivity, newsmaking participating, breaking gatekeeping function and creating specialized content
  • Need to open the process of contributing stories, photos, videos – before the story even starts, asking readers to help guide the story.
  • Niche content – identifying an dtargetting specific audiendes – market driven journalism


  • Newsites should embrace innovations in contribution and niche content to surve
  • Otherwise newspapers will loose everything
  • Need research to distinguish innovators from langards

Republic/KPNX collaboration / How jobs change: Leslie-Jean Thornton, Arizona State

An interesting model to look at because it has a permanent FCC wavier in a large market, are going live Jan. 12 with a major convergence dramatically affected by reductions. Key issues are training, organizational structure, technology and culture.

Key success points

  • Have a sense of humor
  • Embrace ambiguity
  • Work through friction

Slides describing implementation. She observes there is still too much talk which lacks “we” – there are no reporters reporting to the online operation. There doesn’t seem to be a vision yet. They are so defensive they might be missing the point here. Will there be encouragement to break out of the box?

Lessons from the learning communication: Multitasking, tech-savvy digital natives: Janet Kolodzy, Emerson College

Check out Kaiser Foundation research on digital natives:

  • Born after 1980, born into a digital world
  • Pack 10:45 of media content into 7:30 of time thanks to multitasking
  • Typical female 14-year-old sends 100+ text messages a day

Multitasking – is that a misnomer. You can’t actually multitask. You switch between tasks, but you miss something – you are in a state of “continuous partial attention.” And the effort to switch tasks takes brain power. You need to train yourself to judge appropoirate times to multitask.

Learning through video games

Kids read a lot – instructions to video games. They may not read what we think is important, but they do read. Video games promote:

  • visual and kinesthetic value and skills
  • Promotes problem-solving strategies
  • Promotes reading, community
  • Allows for deep engagement in material
  • Provides opportunity to learn from failure
  • Violent nature raises concerns

Her point: Is having kids use education-oriented games worse than sticking them randomly in front of a computer or a television set?

What this means for journalism?

  • Demand for faster easier not going awayw
  • Depth connection too
  • Need for collaboration

Community and hyper-local websites: Jack Rosenberry, St. John Fisher College

Morris Janowitz in 1952 studied Chicago newspapers as community institutions serving four key funcdtions: Tie-in with neighborhood businesses, emphasis on community routines and two other values.

Keith Stam (1978-1985) looked at community as having multiple dimensions including geography, structure (institutions) and process (interactions0> Community members developed ties via media.

His methodoloy

Rosenberry looked at the content of 70 sites. He used the Knight Community News Network but found a lot of dead links. He look at 10 per day during July, 2010. They categorized stories by topic – 18 topics as used by Janowitz. He examined over 1,400 items.

His findings is that in many areas the topic emphasis were similar. There were also some differences. Much ore coverage of volunteer organizations. Less coverage of religion.

His conclusion: Hyperlocal news sistes are fulfilling community orientation functions as described by Janowitz. Factors he analyzed:

  1. Reflecting social and poltical structure (five more, get from slide)
  2. Process
  3. Geography
  4. Community threats
  5. asdfasd

How well does pastache of providers fulfills the community news function in the news news ecosystem. He thinks hyperlocal organizations are poised to play a similar role to hyper-local papers a half-century ago. He says: “The local media system is an integral part of overall community social system.”

“This small but growing part of the news ecosystem seems to have a growing capacity to do the traditional roles in the new news ecosystem,” says Rosenberry.


Q: Any developing models for sustaining hyperlocal? Any gut reactions?

A: Rosenberry: Audience, advertising, he didn’t look at that issue. “Some of them seemed to be really well done and really well put together. Some of them were dammned impressive. Some of the ones that showed up in my random selection are some of the ones Michelle McLellan has put on her list of examplar sites.” But he was paying attention to the news not advertising.


Q: Instead of changing a whole curriculum, should journalism instructors change what they are doing in just one course?

A: How do we build transparency into any course?