“Media convergence,” succinctly put

A rare treat — home alone, folding laundry, drinking coffee, and watching CBS Sunday Morning.

Even better, media critic Jeff Greenfield’s segment, in which he attempts to capture the meaning of “media convergence” in under four minutes. It’s an intriguing exercise, especially within the context of the venerated Sunday Morning, a rather conventionally formatted news program that just marked its 30th anniversary on the air.

As we are all too well aware, a lot has changed in media in these last 30 years. What makes Greenfield’s commentary worthwhile are his parting words about “fundamental” values. Do these values endure despite the sweeping changes brought on by digitization, as Greenfield asserts?

It’s a great discussion starter.

Another fun exercise: how does Greenfield’s definition of “convergence” contrast with the definition put forth by media scholar Henry Jenkins? In his 2006 book, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, Jenkins argues that convergence has less to do with devices and technological advances and more to do with cultural practices and heightened levels of participation and interactivity.

What do you think?


2 Responses to ““Media convergence,” succinctly put”

  1. 1 russgifford 10 March, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    It is intriguing to see media finally put to the test that almost all other businesses have had to negotiate: a change in the basic wants of their users.

    Think of it – while a few 100 year companies exist – Morton Salt, Nabisco Shredded Wheat, etc – most companies at least since 1975 have had to run fast and re-invent themsleves to remain in the hunt for their own customers. Many have had to face upheavel in their basic business – printshops, photography studios, record stores come to mind – and they have had to adapt – or die.

    But after 50 years of near dominance, TV stations are finally feeling the chill. Newspapers, after 100 years of near total domination and only marginal change, may be catching a fatal cold, though.

    Newspapers may be learning what Ford is now learning – to not change is to risk complete destruction. (Ford could not ween itself off Trucks and SUVs, or stretch their resources to gain ground in some other market. So when their single source of income – big vehicles – took a fall, they went with it.)

    It should not be a surprise – it is called capitalism, and it is unforgiving. A major technological disruption changes everything. Newspapers somwhat adapted when radio came along and ate their lunch – mainly, they bought TV or radio stations.

    When TV came along, radio died overnight – but was reborn as a record player.

    But newspapers and television have not figured out how to adapt to the ‘net. And if they don’t figure it out soon, they too will become as necessary as film cameras and 8 track tapes.

  2. 2 jlubke 11 March, 2009 at 4:32 am

    Indeed. You note the struggle to adapt or die that is currently playing out in media and big business. I think also of big government and the new administration’s promise of better transparency and accessibility for the people.

    As a teacher/learner, though, I am MOST intrigued by how educators and school systems are “put to the test,” as you say. How well are we responding to the changing wants and needs of our “users”?

    Just substitute “schools” for “newspapers and television” in your last paragraph. The resulting sentences give me pause. Are we ready to cast traditional bricks-and-mortar schools onto the trash heap with 8-track?

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