August 2, 2006
MTV Purchases College Online News Publisher

Could MTV be well on its way to creating a converged media operation of its own for its colllege coverage?

I've written a lot lately about how issues of transmedia are affecting the news environment at the big network guns like ABC and NBC and how print journalists and J-schools alike are debating the role of convergence in creating better news coverage for the audience/citizens.

Now, it appears that our partners at MTV Networks may be heading in a more converged direction for their college channel, mtvU...or at least they are putting all the tools in place to do so.

This week, news broke that the company has purchased Youth Media & Marketing Networks, or Y2M, which owns the College Publisher tool that 450 online campus newspapers use. The program reaches approximately 5 million college students. I'm familiar with College Publisher through the short time I spent with the WKU College Heights Herald in Kentucky.

Unfortunately, most of the focus at this point about the potential of creating a transmedia corporation is the advertising packages that can be put together. Sure, that's exciting for the bottom line, but if owning both the college television network and the college publishing tools only leads to better packages to sell, it seems to me that MTVN will be missing some of the potential of this deal.

How much better coverage can mtvU give college campuses if it works in tandem with the newspapers who use College Publisher to focus on stories that might be of interest to campuses across the country? While mtvU focuses on a variety of programming, it seems that they this acquirement could aid them in solidifying their reputation as a responsible member of campuses across the country by providing cross-media coverage, where mtvU could help create awareness of stories written by student journalists across the country by giving them play in their own programming and thus making people more interested in mtvU in the process.

Will creating some synergy between their new print division and their already established television network increase the bottom line further? I can't be sure, but creating more compelling programming for colleges and taking advantage of the tools available can only be a boon for the reputations of both College Publisher and mtvU if the company chooses to take advantage to what is now available through this acquisition.