B UCHBESPRECHUNGEN

E SSAY

CONVERGENCE

IN

JOURNALISM

Kenneth C. Killebrew: Managing Media Convergence. Pathways to Journalistic Cooperation. – Ames (IA), Oxford, Carlton (Victoria): Blackwell Publishing 2005 (= Reihe: Media and Technology Series), viii+218 Seiten, USD 44,99. Achim Matthes: Convergence Journalism. Die Auswirkungen der Mediakonvergenz auf den praktischen Journalismus. – Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag Dr. Müller 2006, 121 Seiten, Eur 49,–. Kathrin Meyer: Crossmediale Kooperation von Print- und Online-Redaktionen bei Tageszeitungen in Deutschland. Grundlagen, Bestandsaufnahme und Perspektiven. – München: Herbert Utz Verlag 2005, 387 Seiten, Eur 64,–. Stephen Quinn: Convergent Journalism. The fundamentals of multimedia reporting. – New York etc.: Peter Lang 2005, 256 Seiten, Eur 26,70. Stephen Quinn: Conversations on Convergence. Insiders’ views on news production in the 21st century. – New York etc.: Peter Lang 2006, xxix+136 Seiten, Eur 21,30.

I NTRODUCTION : C ONVERGENCE –

STILL A

» DANGEROUS

WORD «

Ten years ago, Roger Silverstone warned that »convergence is a dangerous word!«, expressing a concern about overusing the concept to articulate a bewildering variety of processes, trends and developments taking place in society in general and throughout the media in particular. Indeed, convergence is a label readily deployed to cover a wide array of activities affecting the way media operate. In the field of journalism studies convergence as a concept is primarily used to document the emergence of multimedia newsrooms, the subtle yet pervasive changes in work routines and organizational structures connected to these new production arrangements, the development of new news formats windowing content across media formats, and the disruptive impact of such phenomena on the way journalists do their work. In doing so, scholarly observers are tempted to stay within the instrumental parameters of convergence, focusing on enabling or constraining conditions of the digital technologies involved. Correspondingly, much academic work on convergence gets trapped in reproducing the discourse of efficiency (or lack thereof ) with which convergence efforts are generally introduced in the media industry. What most – if not all – works on convergence and journalism inevitably conclude or suggest is that convergence in news organizations is not so much a technological, but rather a cultural process, which is experienced by the professionals involved as a struggle over their professional identity. In other words: Multimedia journalism, in whatever shape or size it comes, influences, changes and challenges what it means to be a (good) journalist. A second crucial observation on the role of convergence in journalism is that it is not just a top-down process – which refers to media companies merging and/or introducing multimedia tech-

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nologies to editorial processes. Convergence is most distinctly also a bottom-up process and can thus be understood as a trend whereby people are not only increasingly concurrently exposed to news and public information across multiple media channels, but additionally spend a significant part of their time as producers of information. Examples are journalistic sites offering opportunities to respond, discuss and supply comments to the news, as well as asking people to add user-generated content (including pictures and video clips) to professionally produced materials. This trend is intrinsic to the convergence process in media production and gets amplified by the industry-wide shift towards digital, networked technologies to gather, select, produce, distribute and communicate information – yet it is has been largely absent from most of the literature on convergence in journalism. In this essay we review a number of recent scholarly books that exclusively focus on convergence in journalism. Our focus is on the structure of these works and their respective attempts to position convergence within a broader – or, considering Silverstone’s warning, less dangerous – framework for understanding the changes and challenges that journalists are facing in today’s converging media market and workplace.

L ITERATURE

REVIEW:

C ONVERGENCE

IN JOURNALISM

The books selected for this review essay have many things in common, one being that they explicitly refer to convergence and journalism in their titles: Stephen Quinn’s »Convergent Journalism« and »Conversations on Convergence«, Kenneth Killebrew’s »Managing Media Convergence«, and Achim Matthes’ »Convergence Journalism«, the latter being a German publication with an English title. Kathrin Meyer’s »Crossmediale Kooperation von Print- und Online-Redaktionen bei Tageszeitungen in Deutschland« adds crossmedia to the mix – arguably an important aspect of convergence – but hints at a second common ground in these works: They all more or less exclusively focus on the impact of convergence on print (and particularly: newspaper) journalism. This print bias is quite typical for most work in journalism studies and offers insight into a regrettable and to some extent indefensible omission of television newswork from much of the literature. Out of the titles we chose, Stephen Quinn’s books can be seen as the most general ones, discussing all kinds of aspects related to the topic of convergence as these come forward in the day-to-day inner workings of multimedia news organizations.1 Quinn’s first publication, »Convergent Journalism«, bears the subtitle »The fundamentals of multimedia reporting«, indicating that this is meant to be a very broad approach that lays the ground for other, more specialized works. The author starts with some basic chapters on the »emergence of convergence« (chapters 1 and 2) and the underlying »business and revenue models« (chapter 3), continuing with a discussion of the specifics of »convergent journalism and multi-media storytelling« (chapter 3), followed by some »case studies« (chapter 5). Then we learn about technological aspects of convergence (chapter 6), followed by very practical considerations on the »smart newsroom« (chapter 7), a chapter on the »future of journalism« (chapter 8) and, finally, a discussion of a number of rules on how to implement convergence in the newsroom (chapter 9). Each chapter stands pretty much on its own as a piece that documents some quite down-to-earth aspects of convergence as it is experienced by newsworkers directly. This is the strength, while at the same time a problem of Quinn’s work, as it fails to draw the materials, experiences and texts on journalism and convergence into a coherent conceptual framework that would allow the reader to make sense of it all – if only beyond its current practical implications. Quinn focuses exclusively on the practical status quo of convergence in journalism, and his material is largely based on a small number of interviews he has conducted with managers, journalists and people he considers experts (without articulating why or how he selected particpants) in the field of journalistic convergence. However, it is a must-read for practitioners and for students in journalism training programs. For these groups – but also for the scholars who are interested in the topic from an operational perspective – »Convergent Journalism« offers a wealth of information and insider details. Basically, all its chapters follow a common principle (which makes it highly usable for course work):
1 A disclaimer must be made before we proceed, however: The picture on the book cover of »Convergent Journalism«

was taken by Stephen Quinn himself inside the Newsplex multimedia newsroom in South Carolina, and upon closer inspection reveals one of the reviewers (Deuze) sitting at a desk there; this also means the reviewers know Quinn personally. Deuze was not informed about the use of this picture as the book cover.

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mentioning key elements of the respective topic in each chapter, and these key elements are discussed in smaller sub-chapters. In the first chapter, for example, we learn about various concepts of convergence, and how certain people from the media industry as well as some experts see it, what business models are behind this development, how technology and other forces drive convergence, and how it can be managed. Rather than giving us his definitions and viewpoints, Quinn contrasts the perspectives of his interview partners, and sometimes comments on these perspectives. This pattern – weaving interview material, background information from the interviews, and some data from the literature together in each chapter under numerous headings – opens up the book to a lay audience, but it becomes somewhat repetitive after a while. When reading several chapters in a row, the reader nearly drowns in details. Less would have been more here, because soon enough one starts to wonder whether these snapshots have a longer lasting value if they are not put into a larger framework or systematical approach to observed reality. Throughout Quinn’s work one cannot escape the sense that he is an enthusiastic supporter of multimedia journalism, someone who clearly does not see merit in the observation that many – if not most – managers and directors of media organizations embrace (technological) convergence because they perceive it as a way to cut costs, decrease overhead expenses, and redistribute business risks across multiple media properties. Nowhere in his work do we find a recognition of the fundamentally changing nature of labor in convergent news operations, such as several recent studies (including an April 2006 comprehensive report by the International Labor Organization and the International Federation of Journalists) suggest. The ILO/IFJ report, for example, concludes that newly converged news operations tend to be staffed by only a handful of core employees, whereas most content production increasingly gets outsourced or subcontracted to freelancers, stringers and other contingent newsworkers (the ILO/IFJ report describes these as »atypical« workers). This is all the more remarkable as Quinn’s work clearly hinges on close and personal contacts with news practitioners and industry professionals. The lack of a critical perspective on issues regarding labor, work pressures and professional identity becomes clearer when looking more closely at Quinn’s primary data: his interviews that are documented in the companion volume, »Conversations on Convergence«. This book presents all the interview material that the author gathered for his first book, with some additional interviews he conducted in the mean time – a sum total of 16 interviews. Since the books are partially based on the same material, there is certainly some amount of overlap – and the omissions from the first volume are reproduced accordingly. However, the different ways of presenting the information – as a normal textbook and in the raw interview format – are useful if one plans to work with the books in journalism education, where the (sometimes short) interviews could be used as examples, while the chapters of the book can be read as practical background information. Quinn interviewed 16 journalists, editors and media managers, including five scholars. 14 of these interviews involved U.S. citizens. The selection of interview partners is somewhat conservative, basically focusing on convergence in traditional media in the United States. It would have been interesting to contrast their opinions with new players in the field, which certainly contribute to the development of convergence – companies like Yahoo or AOL, who also have shown interest in convergent news production, could be mentioned here, as well as new start up multimedia companies or forms of bottomup convergence journalism such as Scoopt (UK), OhmyNews (South Korea), JanJan (Japan), or similar initiatives in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore or Hong Kong as this is the area of the world Quinn is most familiar with (he teaches at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia). The interviews are clearly divided into (mostly small) question-answer segments. However, all of them seem to follow a different structure, and the questions are not comparable from one interview to the next, because they are very case specific. Basically, these are not scholarly expert interviews, but journalistic conversations with a couple of hand-picked professionals in the field. After reading both works, we feel quite well-informed about the state of the art in convergence journalism in the United States roughly two years ago – but we are also yearning for more comprehensive work or longitudinal mapping of the crucial debates. One recent book that offers more theoretical background is Achim Matthes’ German »Convergence Journalism«. The book is meant to give an overview of what convergence is and how multimedia concepts are implemented in journalism today. It is divided into four parts: In a first part (chapter 2), it gives some general definitions and viewpoints on convergence, then it goes on to explain what journal-

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istic convergence means (chapter 3), then focuses on journalistic change and what kind of developments journalists have to face in multimedia newsrooms in the (near) future (chapter 4). Finally, in the same vein as Quinn’s work, Matthes discusses the Newsplex as a role model for a converging newsroom environment (chapter 5). The structure is clearly laid out and explained in an introductory section; however, the clarity is also due to a somewhat limited content – the 121 pages, in relatively big print, contain about 90 pages of text (if you subtract the structural introduction, bibliography etc.). The book, thus, is a quick read and would lend itself easily for an undergraduate introductory course on journalism and convergence. To make his argument, Matthes uses secondary information from various sources, mostly web material. While this is not a problem per se, some of the sources are questionable in the context of scholarly work. For example, quoting the definition of convergence from the online encyclopedia of the Brockhaus Lexikon to explain its general application is certainly not indicative of a thorough research approach (p. 15). From the extensive use of web pages the reader gets the impression that the author just Googled a concept and quoted some of the more reliable web pages he found. That said, if one does not know anything about convergence, the book offers quite a few interesting bits of information. Matthes weaves quotes and references into the text, vaguely describes some theoretical approaches as well as practical aspects of convergence. In contrast to Quinn, Matthes does not use interview material that he gathered himself. Rather, he uses the material of other authors, including their original graphics and tables. This would be acceptable if the author would add something himself, comment and analyze the findings in detail or rearrange them in a larger framework; however, the book is very descriptive. In many parts we just learn what somebody else thinks about convergence – but the author himself does not offer a meaningful context or a deeper discussion. The overreliance on secondary material becomes even more obvious where Matthes describes best practice cases like the ›Tampa Tribune‹ (pp. 30ff.) or the Newsplex (pp. 99ff.). This work does not reflect any first-hand access to these newsrooms and insiders, instead quoting self-descriptions (PR material) and other secondary material from the web. While it is well-written and an easy read, we cannot recommend it for coursework due to its questionable use of sources. With Quinn’s book, there are better offerings available (although just in English) when one would be interested in a general introduction to convergence and journalism. For more specific aspects of convergence in journalism, there are other recent books on the market that might be an option. The organizational and managerial aspects of journalistic convergence are discussed in Kenneth C. Killebrew’s »Managing Media Convergence«. The book contains ten chapters, starting with some general implications of »change in the global media environment« (chapter 1) and an overview of the American media market (chapter 2), followed by two chapters on the evolution of media and journalism workplaces (chapter 3 and 4). In the following parts of the book, Killebrew turns to the more specific management questions: First, he addresses what organizations are and how they can be conceptualized (chapter 5), then he turns to creativity (chapter 6) and the management process (chapter 7), before focusing on regulation aspects (chapter 8). The last two chapters go beyond newsroom management: They are reserved for a discussion of the changes of the media and their environment (chapter 9) and an outlook on what the future might bring to media management (chapter 10). Each chapter ends with some exercises that might be used for coursework. The book (like Quinn’s work) also offers a helpful index with the most prominent key concepts. Killebrew has a very different perspective on media convergence, not approaching it from the inside viewpoint of the journalist, but more from the structural side of organizational analysis. Still, it is a valuable read even for people who are interested in the principles of how journalistic cooperation can be organized in a converging environment. The book includes some useful approaches and insights, such as a differentiated conceptualization of convergence, including models to describe various types of convergence (pp. 39ff.), an introduction to some prominent management theories (pp. 61ff.) and their application to media companies, and features analytical tools for the description of organizations (pp. 83ff.). What is problematic, however, is that more recent organizational theories or insights from contemporary management traditions in the creative industries are absent. What remains, then, is the application of well-known managerial and organizational concepts to the implementation of obviously complex and generally top-down change processes, supercharged by rapidly developing new information and communication technologies in an increasingly competitive and uncertain market. This makes the whole book strangely anachronistic and to some extent less applicable to the nature of

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changes that both managers, news directors, editors and journalists experience in their worklife today. On the other hand, Killebrew clearly acknowledges the single most important issue regarding the implications of convergence in journalism: Most managers, journalists and editors today are not yet equipped to deal with these changes in their newsrooms. Often they have been told to implement change, but most have not been given the tools to successfully integrate converged (or multimedia) journalism into the workplace, or have to do so using limited time and resources with anything but a stable workforce. Unfortunately, neither Quinn, Matthes nor Killebrew pick the analysis up where so many others (including themselves) left off. On the other hand, Killebrew’s inclusion of the role which creativity plays in newsrooms is refreshing and much needed in the existing literature on newswork. The author explains different ways in which newsroom convergence can be implemented and what crucial role creativity can play. Acknowledging the difficulties of the cultural and creative process in newswork, Killebrew differentiates between »forced newsroom adaption«, »evolving newsroom adaption« and a »balanced evolution«, and enriches the development processes with helpful graphics (pp. 108ff.). The discussion of how to organize work in order to preserve or foster creativity is both inspiring for the researcher and helpful for the practitioner – the latter will certainly be thankful for the concrete advice that can be deduced from Killebrew’s ideas. Quite a few chapters in Killebrew’s book may not be as interesting for a European reader, though – while they contain valuable information, the chapters on the American market (chapter 2) and regulations (chapter 8) are very specific to the U.S. situation. Although a discussion of the Federal Communications Commission might be interesting even for non-Americans, and although Killebrew also mentions global regulations, the involvement of the WTO or ITU, other countries’ perspectives are missing from the picture. However, such an international approach is clearly not Killebrew’s aim, and it would probably merit a separate publication. Overall, Killebrew’s »Managing Media Convergence« is a different, yet substantial contribution to the academic discussion about convergence. It can be used both as the groundwork for further scholarly analysis, but also for coursework in specialized seminars on the topic. Even some media managers might find Killebrew’s insights helpful for organizing their multimedia newsrooms. Due to its specific character, it complements the more general offers, like Quinn’s books, quite well. The most specifically scholarly work in our selection of titles is Kathrin Meyer’s »Crossmediale Kooperation von Print- und Online-Redaktionen bei Tageszeitungen in Deutschland« (also her dissertation thesis at the LMU Munich). In contrast to the other books discussed here, it is a research document, and it seems to be largely unedited for general publication – which is a regrettable oversight. It suffers from the typical problems of many dissertations: too much work on general theory, media history and methodological discussions, too little on a narrative about what is actually going on in the news organizations. The introduction and the basics of crossmedia cooperation (the theoretical part) make up nearly 200 of the 331 pages of the book. The book’s main asset is the study it reports on: a written survey among 144 editors of German newspapers and the editors of their online counterparts. Overall, the book is divided into four bigger sections that are further subdivided into eleven chapters: After a first introductory section (chapter 1) Meyer discusses the basics of crossmedia cooperation between print- and online newsrooms in section 2 (chapters 2-5). The study is documented in section 3 (chapters 6-10 plus an overview of results in 11), while the final section discusses options for crossmedia cooperation derived from the findings of the study (chapters 12-13). In addition to this, the book contains the full questionnaire of the study – which is certainly not always the case with similar research-based books and which offers helpful insight into how the empirical work was realized. The book is not an easy read (as it is very often the case with dissertations) and therefore is less likely to be be used for coursework. The generous use of notes both for references and annotations does not help either – the book contains an immense number of 1692 footnotes. However, it can be read as a complement to Killebrew’s literature-based analysis – a grounded inside view of how convergence is managed and organized in German print and online media. Of course, the content of the book could be condensed to a much shorter form, and we hope that the author considers releasing her study and its main findings as a journal article.

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STILL A HOT TOPIC !

C ONCLUSION : C ONVERGENCE –

With these books, the reader gets a sound review of the current discussion on convergence. Quinn’s two offerings can be taken as starting points, with a lot of ›real life‹ insider information. Killebrew’s book looks at convergence in a refreshing way, with a managerial and organizational perspective. Meyer’s book offers some complementary data and could be used in conjunction with Killebrew’s more theoretical analysis. Matthes’ work may be intended as an introductory overview as well, but as it competes with other, more extensive books on the market (like the ones by Quinn), it should certainly not be a required reading. Overall, these books suggest that convergence is still a hot topic, generating significant interest of international publishers. However, it is important to note a lamentable absence of labor perspectives (with few exceptions such as Catherine McKercher’s »Newsworkers Unite: Labor, Convergence, and North American Newspapers« published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2002 or several journal articles by Gillian Ursell on the situation in the United Kingdom), as there seems to be relatively few consideration of the role bottom-up convergence plays in the news (with a notable exception in Axel Bruns’ »Gatewatching: collaborative online news production«, published by Peter Lang in 2005). Overall, the ideal book on journalism and convergence would integrate all these perspectives into a coherent framework that would be able to stand the test of time – however, it has to be written MARK DEUZE, Leiden/Bloomington (IN)/THORSTEN QUANDT, München yet.

Jürgen Heinrich/Gerd G. Kopper (Hrsg.): Media Economics in Europe. – Berlin: Vistas Verlag 2006 (= Reihe: Informationskultur in Europa; Bd. 4), 252 Seiten, Eur 30,–. »Media Economics in Europe« is a welcome addition to the literature in this field – and the first edited volume to attempt any sort of synthesis on the state of media economics across some of the European countries. Edited by Professors Jürgen Heinrich and Gerd G. Kopper, the volume contains contributions from many of the important scholars and contributors to our understanding of media economics. This volume is especially welcome to those of us on this side of the Atlantic; previously there has not been a single source scholars in North America could look to for knowledge of the situation in Europe. This text fills this important gap. The volume is primarily designed as a research compendium, as there are no pedagogical materials (e. g. objectives, discussion items) presented within the chapters. It is unfortunate that the publisher failed to include an index for the book; I found myself searching for terms or concepts and was forced to thumb through page after page. The book would be useful for students

studying media economics in Europe, or perhaps to those outside the region in a course in global communication or global media economics. The volume is divided into two large sections. Part A begins with an examination of media economics development in Europe and the United States authored by Robert Picard; this chapter examines more of the differences than the similarities between the entities. The remaining six chapters examine the development of media economics among six regions in Europe as established by the editors. These areas include Eastern Europe (Mihaly Galik), France (Nadine Toussaint Demoulins), German-speaking countries (Jürgen Heinrich and Frank Lobigs), the Nordic nations (Karl Erik Gustafsson), Spain (Alfonso Sanchez-Tabernero) and the United Kingdom (Gillian Doyle). While each of these chapters provide interesting historical information on the development of media economics within the particular country/region, the chapters are somewhat disjointed in the presentation in that they don’t follow a consistent framework. As such, some chapters provide detail on key issues within the country/region, while others ignore such a discussion. While it certainly was not possible to cover every country that comprises Europe (although