CONVERGENCE IN THE TRENCHES
A new study finds that almost 70 percent of reporters and producers
at small and medium-market TV stations are personally involved
in producing content for another medium. The convergence workload
is rising across the board, the study says, but most of the work
still involves "repurposing" content from Web sites instead of
truly reporting across media, according to study authors Andrea
Tanner and Laura Smith.
The researchers surveyed producers and reporters at stations in
markets 51-210. Almost all of the respondents indicated that their
station practiced some form of convergence. The most common convergence
partner is not a surprise: the TV station's own Web site was cited
by 61% of respondents as the focus of their convergent duties.
But about one-fifth of respondents said they're responsible for
providing content to another TV station or to a radio station.
Less than 10% said they also write for a newspaper outlet.
The survey found that most of what these reporters and producers
post online requires little or no new information or reporting.
"Very few provide still pictures, add additional facts to a story,
or help design the site," the authors write. "No news workers were
tasked with creating Internet-only stories. Fewer than 20% report
providing unaired video or sound bites to the Web site, even though
such material is readily available."
and producers were equally likely to produce content for different
outlets, according to the study, but their tasks were substantially
different. Producers were significantly more likely than reporters
station's Web site, deciding what information should be posted,
to actually do the posting and to write story summaries for the
Web. Reporters, on the other hand, were more likely to provide
content to a radio station, or conduct online Q&A sessions with
Most respondents (70%) said they had the skills they needed to
do what's expected of them, but almost half said additional training
would improve the quality of the work they produce. A quarter of
respondents said they felt the quality of their own work was suffering
as a result of increasing convergence duties.
While almost three-quarters of respondents said convergence has
increased their workload, more than half said they spend less than
30 minutes a day on convergence tasks. And a majority described
their experience with convergence as positive or very positive.
Andrea Tanner is at the School of Journalism
and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina. Contact
her at email@example.com. This
study was published in Electronic News 1(4), 211-255,
November 4, 2007.