Newsroom Convergence: A Shotgun Marriage?

The School of Journalism & Mass Comm at Kent State University has been working with student media to create a converged newsroom. Here’s a report on what we did, how it’s working, and what we’ve learned. Visit: TheKentNewsroom

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4 Responses

  1. I agree that everything is not interchangeable, but in a student environment, I think it’s great to have students collaborating about the best ways to tell every story. And I think a student who rotates for one semester on each medium will never become particularly skilled at any of them. They should be encouraged to specialize in some areas. You need editors and station managers, for example, but the convergence offers easy ways for students to collaborate where it makes sense, share content where it makes sense without having to travel upstairs or downstairs or over the walls.

  2. After reading the blog, I’m not sure what the point of the “converged” newsroom was supposed to be, other than consolidating space. The project’s focus seemed to be on logistics, not on a fundamental “business” goal — i.,e, what changes were desired for the newsgathering and presentation “business” at Kent State. Different media — print, Web text, radio, audio.podcast, TV, and streamed video — have different parameters, audiences, and contexts, so a print reporter will approach and present a story in a very different way than a blogger or a Web reporter or a TV reporter. Why would you want to converge these in the first place?Convergence seems to make sense in three areas:1) logistics — shared space and back-end systems can reduce costs.2) shared data — things like sports scores, newswire feeds, and other raw material don;t need to be gathered in duplication, even though they may be expressed/used differently in different media. This reduces costs and may add some efficiency.3) Web presentation — video, audio, and text all can be presented on the Web, and understanding how to use those three presentation methods in a single medium (a browser-based Web site) can lead to a better Web “product.” The trick is that if you believe there is a rationale for still doing print, radio, and TV, you need to make sure that what you produce works “natively” in those media, as well as in the Web context if you use the content in more than one place. Often, you’ll need to have a “regular” version and a “Web” version of the content to honor the differences. For example, Web video is poor resolution, small, and subject to bandwidth issues, so complex images won’t work. TV/cable/satellite can deliver richer video without worries about user equipment, but the Web can be rewound and accessed at any time, while TV?cable/satellite is available only on the broadcast schedule and often can’t be rewound (DVRs are changing this).I’m many years out of college, but I suspect what worked very well for me at USC in the 1980s would work today: Rotate students though different media — a semester on te magazine, a semester on the newspaper, a semester on the radio station, a semester ion the Web site, etc. — so they both learn the different skills across these media and see which ones they excel at. I believe the “do it all” approach is unworkable, and I’ve seen it repeatedly fail in commercial media companies I’ve worked at. Share where it makes sense, but don’t treat everything the same or as interchangeable, because it is not.

  3. Another thanks. Maybe the folks at the NYT will find the time to take a look and learn something. Not likely, but you never know.

  4. Thanks for this. We’re in the process of a major renovation of our 21,000-square-foot building, which houses radio, television, newspaper and yearbook. We’re also in the process of deciding to outsource printing, which means freeing up a large space that now houses a press and newsprint storage, so the opportunity is here. What I think will be a challenge is that television news covers the news far differently than The Daily Texan does its video, and radio news is fairly non-existent. Can we follow this model with adaptations? I’ll keep you posted.

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