Sunday, March 30, 2008

What is Convergence Theory? Why is it important in news?

There are various interpretations of convergence theory in newspapers, and change travels at various rates. However, there are some accepted facts, which include: 1. Printed newspapers are not forever; and 2. The Internet is going to be the chief facilitator and conduit of news in the future (arguments range about how far into the future).

Convergence is about synergy, such as the synergy between printed editions and Web sites, or the features of the sites (e.g. blogs and digital video) with the Web site itseld. It takes a team of journalists and Web news people that understand the totality of this undertaking to effectively bring any operation into compliance with convergence theory.

Having pod casting, blogs or digital video alone does not constitute a strong Online operation. There has to be continuity between the various operations, in such a way that the news organization represented (insert name) is present in a constant manner.

Today, blogs are scattered throughout the Web, and there seems to be a blog for every day of the week. When a news operation is doing blogging well, then the blogs will feed traffic to the main site in a predictable way, because its format will be regulated after experimentation.

In its way, YouTube has also opened the door on the digital market wide open, in a random method that has piqued interest without formulating an effective model for news. But how does digital video get used in the most productive way? And what format will that be in?

So who does convergence well? Very few organizations. But it is through the use of multiple media (print, Online, Online video, Online audio) that a distinct, cogent new media will finally take its place – digital media. Not just the hardware and software of digital media, but digital media where the newspeople involved actually know what they are doing with it.

Right now, organizations like large dailies and some Online news sites are starting to understand the scope of what is editorially needed, but sometimes fail to understand that the printed medium is just another medium. Print is also the least durable, least circulated of any of the media that a newspaper with a Web site and various Web products has.

Understanding what works and what direction to travel in is something that occurs after the Online resources are in place. Convergence is not constituted simply by having Online assets, in my opinion.

If I have two cars sitting in the driveway, and one of the two people in a residence doesn't know how to drive, I may have two cars but the reality is that this statement hasn't found its way into reality yet. There is a car left unused in a driveway. So why have it in the first place?

Using these tools now in the future, in an effective way that will bring predictable results, is the mission of newspapers into the today and tomorrow. The Online tools being introduced these days are just beginning to render results that are predictable, and it is only in creating predictable conditions and obtaining predictable results that business and commerce, in any industry, can be transacted.

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