Convergent media: Is this the end of the road for journalism?

Having recovered from the nervous breakdown which ensued in using WordPress for the very first time, to set up this blog, this digital dinosaur is back to talk about convergent media. What does this term mean and what has it got to do with social media, or new media or digital media and PR?

Convergent media is the name that some members of PR academia have given to what others term as social and digital media, but it is not a term that is used or known widely. Most companies and people today in general refer to social and digital media instead but that is not an accurate description.
Convergent media means it is networked and digital. So, for example, convergent media is digital in terms of the digital software, tools and platforms used i.e. the web, YouTube, Facebook, apps, smart phones, videos, graphics etc and that it allows the sender and receiver to be networked (linked together).

Here is a useful video on media convergence:

As a public relations practitioner, even as a digital dinosaur I regularly use convergent media, and this has made me in a way more self-sufficient when needing an article published. In fact, my life is a whole lot easier as I don’t need to spend as much time on traditional media relations, instead using convergent media channels instead. This is particularly helpful when I have many countries as part of my responsibilities in the company I work for, to provide PR support for but have no real resource to dedicate to this. So social media is one of the primary communications tools that is best to use.

But what is it that makes convergent media so useful? What characteristics describe the term convergent media? Here are some characteristics that describe the term sometimes used in academia:
Firstly, convergent media makes searching for information easy and fast. In the bat of an eyelid, I can use the internet to do my research eg using google, look at articles posted online by traditional media, looking at videos on YouTube, company websites, Linkedin, statistics etc. Then I may replicate some of this research in an article that I wish to write. This all happens whilst I sit at my computer or even on my phone and without much time needed to do much leg work such as speaking to other people, or departments, laboriously sifting through monitoring reports, or interviewing people etc.

When it comes to posting my article, the world is my oyster as the reach of converged media is far and wide. Previously In the “olden days” if I was intending to post my article in a print magazine, I would have to have a good relationship with the journalist of the particular newspaper or magazine I wanted to publish in and also needed to convince them to write a story. Now, I can write the article myself and if I post my article on converged media, LinkedIn for example, or twitter, or Facebook, my article will be seen not only by all my journalist contacts but many other stakeholders too and they will see it instantly. This means, I don’t have to think about selection, or spend time “selling” my article and in terms of the timing, I can post at any time. The downside to this however, is that there is no real clarity of publics on convergent media and so my publication is not specifically targeted at any particular stakeholder group or public other than my own contacts and my contacts own networks.

If I were publishing my article in a hard copy newspaper or magazine, this would require a lot more planning and thought in terms of selecting the right medium and when and where to publish. In addition, my article would only be in circulation for one day or one week or one month. On LinkedIn for example my article has longevity and if my article is liked and shared, it would attract an increased number of readers very quickly. In addition, as it is on the internet, it has a long shelf life and would pop up on internet searches and so never be obsolete.
The other benefit is that I do not need to be particularly skilled or have a journalistic background to write and get an article published. Never has it been easier to research, write and publish an article at a drop of a hat!

So, in my view, convergent media has definitely changed, not only in the way we publish information and news as PRs, but it has opened the floodgates for anyone at anytime and anywhere to become a journalist and publish news at the push of a button. More thoughts on how this has impacted our media and news landscape in my next blog…

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