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University of Iowa professor studies melding of media at four news organizations

While most journalists who are asked by their employers to work in a medium other than their own are frustrated by the time demands and insufficient level of training they receive, they generally regard the convergence of print, television and Web-based journalism to be a positive development for their careers and the communities they serve, according to a study published last month in the British journal Journalism Studies.

The study examined the attitudes of journalists working at four news organizations where the convergence of print, television and Web-based reporting has united former media competitors under the banner of a single information company.

University of Iowa professor Jane Singer spent a week with journalists from each converged news company studied, including the Dallas Morning News, WFAA-TV, TXCN (cable) and dallasnews.com; the Tampa Tribune, WFLA-TV and TBO.com; the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, SNN Channel 6 (cable) and heraldtribune.com; and the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, 6News Lawrence (cable) and ljworld.com in January and February 2003.

Singer interviewed 120 journalists, including newsroom managers, editors, anchors, reporters, columnists, photographers and on-line content producers and asked them to complete a 54 question survey about convergence. Among the answers Singer sought were what journalists regarded as the relative advantages of newsroom convergence, which attitudes indicated that journalists would be convergence innovators and what social structures in the newsroom contributed the most to shaping the journalists’ attitudes about convergence.

Some of Singer’s findings included:

  • Producing product for other media takes more time than bosses realize;
  • Work demands in primary media haven’t been reduced as journalists take on added responsibilities for converged media content;
  • Journalists perceive they don’t get sufficient training in media that’s not their native medium;
  • Newspaper journalists wanted television production and delivery training, and TV journalists wanted writing help;
  • In larger markets like Dallas, few journalists actually attempted complete media convergence, while most journalists from the smallest market studied at least dabbled in cross-media news production for all three media.

Singer also found that journalists weren’t intimidated by the technology used to produce stories in non-primary media and believed that with help they could learn to use those tools.

A copy of Singer’s report, “Strange Bedfellows? The diffusion of convergence in four news organizations” is available to Journalism Studies subscribers. For more information, please visit: http://doj.shef.ac.uk/js/currfeb2k4.htm or http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/1461670X.asp.

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