+49 40 468 58 409

To evaluate convergence in a professional newsroom

In 2008/2009, Andy KaltenbrunnerKlaus Meier, José A. Garcia Avilés, Daniela Kraus and Miguel Carvajal conducted an international comparison of daily newspapers in terms of newsroom convergence. Their study found that – from the publishing companies‘ point of view – the first decade of the Internet (1994-2004) was characterized by “speculative bubbles and multimedia phrases, trial and error”, the second decade, i. e. since 2005, has been characterized by discussions about convergence in the daily routine of an editorial department. “New ways of obtaining and exploiting news in new structures, in newsrooms and at news desks” would systematically arise.

These ways, however, “have in common the intention to create centers whose task is to control the work and dataflow when aggregating and distributing digital materials. Online services as well as print media are being served from those newsrooms”. On the basis of preliminary and case studies, the authors of the convergence study mentioned above classify models of newsroom convergence into three categories which can be summarized as following:

  1. Full integration: The infrastructure for the editorial production of content is centrally controlled in one single newsroom in order to coordinate the workflow for all media platforms and channels in a convergent way. Convergence is strategically as well as operatively an explicit business goal, an economic and journalistic process of development. Considerably more than half the journalists work for at least two media platforms and receive appropriate training or further education.
  2. Cross-media: The majority of journalists are trained for a particular media platform. Hence, it is possible to subdivide the respective newsrooms into print and online. Central and comprehensive control of the workflow and content use by coordinators and news managers build the connection between the media platforms. Team building of staff working for different platforms is possible; it is even promoted through further education. Cross-medially effective work requires that at least one fifth of the staff should be capable of working for various platforms (multi-skilling).
  3. Coordination of independent platforms: There is deliberately no cooperation between the various forms of media, neither as to the provision and production of news nor as to its distribution. Subsequently, convergence is not a strategic goal of the company. The company’s intention is to maintain its powerful, autonomous units without risking diluting the journalistic core competences and without giving up the specific identity of the platforms. Cross-mediality at best arises from individual interest or is due to reasons of promotion.

The varying degrees of intermedial symbiosis found at dailies are ascribed by the authors to both an underestimation and an apprehension of the Internet. While the ones had reacted tardily to the changes brought about by the Internet, the others had alleged some form of cannibalization by the Internet, of their printed editions. Yet others, it was suggested, had embraced the net hoping for new prospects. Due to the differing response times there emerged, at editorial offices, varied degrees of convergence. By categorizing the degrees of convergence the authors created a means of comparing individual editorial offices along a common matrix using four convergence descriptors. The four relevant descriptor categories are “project frame within the corporation”, “newsroom management”, “journalistic practice” and “labor organization and human resources development”. Each investigation is based on 32 questions.

The analysis of samples from Germany, Spain, and Austria concluded that not a single one of the companies investigated was entirely committed either to the model of complete integration or that of Cross Media or to model of co-ordination of independent platforms. However, the underlying matrix might help towards an improved structuralization of strategic considerations. It could also be used to develop distinctive convergence concepts. With reference to the Convergence Continuum as postulated by Larry Dailey et al. the authors consider the systematic change within news corporations to be part of an inevitable evolutionary process that is only just beginning. Recipients (the reading public), they say, are a step ahead of the media corporations in freely using all platforms available.

Schreibe einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert.