We are now facing the greatest challenge to the traditional Sunday morning of breakfast and coffee enjoyed over the newspaper. Whilst coffee and breakfast is presumably still on the menu, only 20% of the US population still turn to traditional newspapers for their news (Lu & Holcomb, 2016). More often than not, Sunday breakfast is now accompanied with a side of smartphones, televisions and laptops. The fundamental ingredient in this shift is CONVERGENCE.
What is CONVERGENCE?
Convergence is the notion that once separated media have now conglomerated to produce convergent products, services and activities (Flores, 2010) (Flew, 2014). For example, the ‘iBooks’ application for Apple’s iPhone merges traditional books and mobile phones to produce a convergent form of communication through remote access to novels.
In the journalism industry, this has seen a shift away from traditional newspapers and towards digitized articles and stories, embedded with images and videos. This shift is noted in the renovation of the Financial Times, as seen in the video below. This new recipe for journalism has given rise to the citizen journalist by allowing the public to comment and share articles or post their own stories. As Harry Jenkins, Professor of Journalism at University of Southern California recognises, “information is now increasingly bottoms up and participatory rather than top down from formal institutions” (Jenkins, 2006).
However, the amplification of the public voice means that news journalists are rarely able to report on stories that aren’t already available on line. The traditional news challenges of deadlines, resources, finances and time constraints have been overcome with the instantaneous nature of smart phone photography, videography, social media, blogs and instant messaging.
But if the average Joe Blow can now produce and publish his stories on a global platform and in real time, does this mean that print newspaper circulation and the role of a journalist is now circling the drain?
Whilst the online rise has placed an intensified pressure on journalists, these shifts have not made their role redundant. A socio-cultural perspective would suggest that the additional ingredients of bloggers and amateur journalists have just changed the required equipment and methods of the industry (Flew, 2014).
- Journalists must be multi-talented.
Today, professionally trained journalists are expected to be proficient across all mediums and platforms. Only writing stories is no longer sufficient. Digital skills are mandatory. University journalism courses now cover a range of skills from video editing, filming and script writing to social media management, design and photography (Cullen, Tanner, O’Donnell, & Green, 2014). With so many platforms available, journalists have the capacity to draw connections between different elements and perspectives, thus providing holistic portrayals of stories. By harnessing the strengths of various channels, journalists may link concise online articles to extensively researched blogs, summarising tweets and first-hand instagrammed images (Flew, 2014). The interconnected nature of the process intensifies reader engagement as the audience is able to gain a more in-depth understanding of the topic.
- Journalists must always be learning.
Contemporary journalists must remain open to the idea of continual learning (Bernardo & Leao, 2013). A graduate today can be expected to remain in the workforce beyond 2050 and the changes over the last decades have created the blueprint for an innovative future. Consequently, the journalists of tomorrow will be required to have skills that haven’t even been considered today (Finberg & Kilinger, 2014). Professional journalists must continually remain aware of new technology or platforms and identify how they may utalise these to the best of their ability (Flew, 2014). This involves developing and maintaining extensive professional networks, potentially working in conjunction with other journalists and remaining open to the notion of further formal study.
- Journalists must differentiate from social media.
Whilst it is essential for journalists to harness the opportunities that social media present, it is also necessary to differentiate their content from every day users (Harper, 2010). The success of social media relies on its instantaneous speed and 24-hour cycle of new information. Such efficiency and frequency challenges the nightly deadlines of traditional journalists and suggests potential redundancy of their roles (Flew, 2014). Consequently, professional journalists must use this provision of time to provide a depth which is absent in social media (Harper, 2010). This may come in the form of expert opinions, first-hand accounts, high quality images, audio and film or extensive background research (Flew, 2014). These strategies will enable journalists to differentiate from mainstream social media users by providing a complete and enriched news experience for their readership.
Although the traditional Sunday morning of breakfast and coffee enjoyed over the newspaper is no longer customary, the provision of news is still valid and an integral aspect of the morning experience. The additional ingredients of smart phones, tablets and laptops have changed the equipment and method that journalists must follow. Whilst these changes created the need for a new recipe, the experimentation is developing this process has presented new flavours and experiences for the audience. Contemporary journalists are now expected to become the chefs of these recipes to maintain their position in the industry.
Bernardo, C. H., & Leao, I. B. (2013). The Training of the Contemporary Journalist: the history of a worker without a degree . SciELO Brasil, 33(65).
Cullen, T., Tanner, S. J., O’Donnell, M., & Green, K. (2014). Industry Needs and Tertiary Journalism Education Views from News Editors. University of Wollongong, Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts. University of Wollongong.
Finberg, H. I., & Kilinger, L. (2014). Core Skills for the Future of Journalism. Poynter, Media Studies. Poynter Institute for Media Studies.
Flew, T. (2014). New Media (Vol. 4). Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Oxford University Press.
Flores, F. (2010). Convergence in Journalism: Implications for the higher education of journalism students . Graduate Theses and Dissertations.
Harper, R. A. (2010). The Social Media Revolution: Exploring the Impact on Journalism and News Media Organisations. Inquiries Journal , 2(3), 1/4.
Jenkins, H. (2006). Workship at the Altar of Convergence. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, 1 – 24.
Lu, K., & Holcomb, J. (2016). Digital News Audience: Fact Sheet. Pew Research Center, Journalism and media. Pew Research Center.