Myths and Realities of Convergence – Nieman Reports

Randy Covington in the Winter 2006 ‘Goodbye Gutenberg’ issue: “The truth is convergence costs money because usually it requires additional staff and more technology….Convergence needs to be undertaken as a growth strategy, not a cost-cutting measure.”

Myths and Realities of Convergence – Nieman Reports

I dreamt I was in a social media class…

…and the textbook was the Henry Jenkins book which has been sitting relatively uncracked on my bedside shelf for a couple months now.

Does that mean I’m supposed to read it, or that the Mass Communications program at school should have a social media class?

Luckily, I don’t have time to think about that. I have a new job title starting today, so I should try to get to work on time. Wish me luck.

(Jenkins’ blog is here. )

Vanderbilt student media site opens up to the community

In Nashville, Vanderbilt University‘s student newspaper has completely retooled and reimagined what a college media Web site should look like and what its purpose should be in the university community. is the result.

Straight news and blogs written by the staff mingle with reader photos, stories, and blogs.

The site is run with Drupal, free open-source software with a huge user community. It’s easy enough to get started with Drupal that I played around with it sometime last year while brainstorming what we could do to give SJSU’s student body a place for community building and social networking.
You can hear a podcast about the development of InsideVandy thanks to Reinventing College Media.

10 things I heard at the AEJMC convention today

Let me tell you about my first time … at the AEJMC convention.

Seriously, I had never been to a conference or convention that was about my own field before today. I mean, I’ve hung out with the physicists and the photographers and maybe even the real estate data information professionals back when I was a wee tyke, but this was (obviously) cooler. I mean, as cool as you can expect a bunch of journalism educators to be. Which ain’t bad.

I felt a little awkward about identifying myself, because I kept switching from student to researcher to reporter in midsentence, leaving people asking me ‘Wait, where are you from?’

Wish I could have made it there all week, but San Francisco is far, and there are stories to be filed and thesis proposals to conjure out of thin air.

So without further narrative lede, here’s Ten Things I Heard Today

  1. J-Schools can act as hubs for all sorts of interesting experiments. They can aggregate ethnic news outlets, bootstrap citizen media projects, or develop new news products from the ground up.
  2. The need for media literacy increases right alongside the number of communication channels. This theme was repeated by a few people today, Dan Gillmor among them, who pointed out that skepticism is a requirement to sort out the signal/noise ratio online.
  3. The best pitch I heard on how to teach computer programming to journalism students (which everyone wants to do, but no one knows how to do) came from SFSU’s Andrew DeVigal, who thinks it can be taught online, where the few kids at each school who want to learn it can meet up with someone like Adrian Holovaty all at once. Sign me up.
  4. Keeping journalism students in their silos (print, broadcast, online) and just adding classes might not be the answer, but convergence isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, either. Lots of schools in lots of different spots on the continuum on that issue. Thorny one.
  5. Phil Meyer of UNC has faith that something new is going to develop out of the decline of the print newspaper, and today’s journalism students are going to be the ones inventing it. The job of the J-School is to prepare them to do so. Jerry Ceppos said something along these lines, too: Journalism students should be learning “how to expect change.”
  6. It sure would be nice if journalism students could learn something about business strategies, entrepreneurship, and new product development. Why? Because investment banking firms and media moguls might not have the same principles as journalists. Plus, getting information gathering and business sense on the same team makes for innovative news.
  7. Journalism schools should be leading the profession, and not the profession leading the journalism schools. J-School should be more like law school or medical school, driving changes in the industry rather than always playing catch-up.
  8. Newspapers are still having a hard time finding journalists to build infographics, interactive graphics, and multimedia presentations. Unfortunately, J-Schools are having just as hard a time finding faculty to teach those things. See Andrew’s idea above at #3. Calling Mindy McAdams
  9. J-Schools aren’t going to be able to teach all this stuff on their own. There must be some dance partners out there, whether we’re talking about a magnet high school full of little programmers and web designers or a venture capital company willing to finance an experiment.
  10. Make your journalism school a laboratory and experiment with the future of journalism. Emulating a vanishing medium teaches students how to vanish.

Thanks to all the folks I buttonholed after panels, on elevators, and in the halls today, whether I was acting like a student, researcher, or reporter.

Online and print partying together

via E&P: Editors from the Washington Post and USA Today talk about “the continuous news desk” and “platform-agnostic coverage” on a panel at an Interactive Media conference.

One j-school professor in the audience asked what the panelists were looking for in young journalists — should they already be focusing on multi-tasking, shooting video and the like?”

“I want journalists who think first and foremost about how people are consuming media,” Wilson responded. “It’s not about necessarily learning software or reporting on different platforms. It’s more about how much time people spend with media and how long they are going to spend on various types of consumption.”

That’s Kinsey Wilson talking, the executive editor of USA Today.

Is he talking about editors or reporters? Does a reporter coming out of j-school need to know “how much time people spend with media,” or is he talking about having a basic understanding of news consumption, as in, what sort of people will read a story online and what sort of people will rip a story out of the print edition to hand to a friend?

The question the prof is asking, of course, is whether or not j-schools have to start teaching the print kids how to do a stand-up. Note to the prof: you don’t, but you’ve gotta teach someone with a journalism degree how to decide what sort of audio & video to post online, when, where, and how to do it. We need to learn how to edit for the Web.

Bonus: Here’s a year-old interview Terrence Smith did with Wilson.