Convergence thoughts

I am heartily sick of people who put finger-quotes around the word Convergence when they’re talking about media.
It’s becoming a pejorative term when, as far as I can see, it’s one of the opportunities that may mean newspapers have a hope of prosperity in future.
There are so many definitions for the word but my favourite – and the one I think is most optimistic – states that convergence is when more “is entering a given area than is leaving at that level”. Apply that description to newspapers for a moment: More money, more advertising, more readers – everything we want to ensure our survival is captured in this definition of a word some executives can’t even bring themselves to utter without a self-deprecating little shrug.
But now I’m seriously starting to think that maybe convergence should be about more than how we mash technologies together to tell stories.
Maybe it should be about how we converge with other external sources to tell those stories – and I’m thinking here of the people within our readership reach who blog, Tweet, post on Seesmic or have podcasts.
The Daily Post is about to start co-hosting a blog with The Bluecoat gallery in Liverpool – their CEO is going to put his blog on our site and become an LDP blogger while maintaining his own over at Bluecoat. And I think that’s great; it’s not about unique content, it’s about content people value – and I know he’s going to be a really popular blogger on our site while we drive traffic over to The Bluecoat at the same time. And why shouldn’t we support each other? We’re both city businesses (very old city businesses) trying to connect with a changing world.
If newspapers see their remoteness as a badge of integrity and believe impartiality is maintained by observing and never participating, then we may as well give up and go home now. If we’re not prepared to give more of ourselves – and by that I don’t mean free sausage rolls offers – and allow readers to have more involvement in a product that is, after all, produced for them, then we are downsizing our way to oblivion.
Convergence, as far as I’m concerned, is essential. And if I’m to entrenched to grasp how a marriage of networks – social or technological – can benefit the industry that I love (and that pays my wages) then maybe it’s not something I should be a part of any more.

3 thoughts on “Convergence thoughts

  1. Hi Alison,I couldn’t agree more! As we become flooded with more and more media content, I think there’s an increasing need for people to to take up the role of content guides. Local newspapers have not yet made the most of their online presence and, need to seize the opportunity to become the guides to information and opinions in their local areas. And, as guides, we have to be brave enough to point our readers away from us to other places of interest on the web. If we’re useful enough they will come back.If we can develop relationships with those people who we point to and, as a result, obtain some new, interesting content for our own site then that is an excellent result. Hope the new blog goes well.


  2. Yes, building relationships is so critical and we have to be prepared for setbacks as we go about it. I’d like to think that people would respond well to a more engaged newspaper industry but after years of us talking at people it’s not going to happen ovenight. We project ourselves as the ‘Font of All Wisdom’. We’d be so much better off attempting to become the ‘Font of As Much Information As We’ve Been Able To Amass For You – Please Feel Free To Add To It Yourselves’…


  3. The Beeb have been doing a primitive version of that for ages – here’s our story take a look at where we got if from if you like.The difficulty is going to be how we present it links for a story are good, wikis can work – but how does it work.There was a great outfit operating during the foot and mouth crisis called out there news – they essentially gave a farmer his own digital kit to (what we would now call) vlog with and framed reports around it.Talked to a couple of online eds of regional papers recently and they are finding that the digital domain is allowing them to reconnect with their world 1.0 community – and there are suggestions that large drops in ABCs are being stabilised somewhat.


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