Convergence ‘just a fad’

Today, I heard a journalist say that the village that is the media audience had moved on and left newspapers with the old and the lame. For him, convergence was a way to catch up and remind everyone just how important a part of the community they are.

So I was interested to see a similar analogy used by former editor of the Daily Express Richard Addis in a piece in the Independent (The Independent via The Editors weblog). I wasn’t surprised to find that his reaction was less positive.

According to Addis, Convergence is just a fad blown out of proportion by media consultants eager to capitalize on newspapers’ fears.

The falcon is so far from the falconer that he can’t even remember there was one, let alone hear him. I saw Nick Lloyd the other day in the street, a man who was knighted for editing the Daily Express, and for a flash it was like glimpsing Chief Running Bull in his feathers out shopping at Wal-Mart. Chief remains. Village has moved on.

Oh dear. For Addis, convergence just doesn’t make sense (I know this is a quote from the EW reporting of the article, but to be honest, I got so fed up of trudging through Addis’ tedious, wordy intro, it seemed easier.)

• Every type of journalism has its own complex skill system. Print skills do not translate well to other media, and vice versa.
• Convergence results in the worst type of journalism, watered-down commoditised news. According to Addis, the reader wants “insight, wit, personality, and attitude,” but “that is precisely what dies first on the multimedia spokes.”
• The industry places too much value on journalists who can work in all media. People who can do one thing well are more efficient.

Sorry chief but that’s just rubbish.

• Every type of journalism has its own complex skill system. Print skills do not translate well to other media, and vice versa.

Good stories, tight writing, effective headlines, well edited audio and video…

• Convergence results in the worst type of journalism, watered-down commoditised news. According to Addis, the reader wants “insight, wit, personality, and attitude,” but “that is precisely what dies first on the multimedia spokes.”

Maybe what does die is the minority of personality. The cabal of commentators and columnists supping at el Vino look pretty mediocre when everyone can have a say.

• The industry places too much value on journalists who can work in all media. People who can do one thing well are more efficient.

Yes, people who do one thing very well are valuable. But what Addis seems to want to do is bring back a time when only one media was allowed to do things well. Print does words, radio does sound and TV does pictures. That’s how it works in his world.

Okay, i’m twisting what he said, a little, to make a point.

It just highlighted for me the real problem with the issue of convergence. It isn’t what convergence means to the industry that’s the problem. It’s what people want the industry to be.

For some, it’s their life; their bread and butter. They realise they have to move with the times and, as all good journalists should, reflect and respond to their audience.

For others like Addis, journalism is to be preserved in aspic. It was never better than it was in the old days.

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