This is the second part of a piece that originally appeared in the 01 September 2006 edition of the Convergence Culture Consortium's Weekly Update, an internal newsletter for affiliated researchers and corporate members of C3.
Let's take an industry that I have written about extensively in the past few months: journalism. Convergence has become a major point of discussion for news sources and J-schools alike. I have worked for several years as a professional journalist and know these arguments from both ends.
The naysayers--and there are plenty--see the idea of convergence in journalism (particularly telling a story in multiple media forms) as being the uberjournalist, the corporate dream in which one journalist is hired to write a story for print and for broadcast and for the Web and for the radio and take the pictures and on and on. In other words, there is a belief that journalism produces a jack of all trades but a master of none, to borrow a common idiom.
That's not what convergence is. For those who believe that the concept is a corporate-driven capitalist ploy, they are looking at a much too narrow slice of convergence.
Are there news operations which have tried to use convergence in this way, to cut their personnel and force extra work on employees? Of course. Is there a fundamental difference between broadcasting and print journalism? Of course.
And, in cases where the bottom line supercedes quality journalism, the critics are right. But that doesn't mean you should throw the baby out with the bath water (the idioms just keep coming).
I've heard many professionals say that convergence in journalism, done correctly, saves no money; in fact, may cost more. But it capitalizes on informing the viewer in the best way possible.
Hitting the main facts and showing the visuals on video, elaborating in print, providing tons more ancillary content with the potential for user-generated content online, etc. In other words, each medium emphasizes the angle of the story that it is best at, so that the entire package becomes much more valuable when working in tandem.
But this hits the core of what all the critics are missing. Convergence, at its best, is not just focused on increasing the bottom lines but rather providing a more comprehensive and higher-quality product for the consumer.
The hope is that, with a better product and with a cross-platform storytelling process that respects the user and gives him or her what she wants, it will increase the bottom line as a result. And convergence at its best requires good storytelling.