Andy Dickinson Andy is a Senior lecturer in Journalism at Manchester Metropolitan University where he is the program lead for the MA Multimedia Journalism.

Is ‘convergence’ the next media disaster?

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In an interesting article, Knight professor of journalism ethics Edward Wasserman sounds a little bit like he’s trying to catch the horse after missing the open stable door.

I don’t really agree that it’s the involvement of techies and marketing people who are spoiling it, although I appreciate there is more than a little goading of journos in the article. But it may be too subtle and perhaps there needs to be a clearer statement that maybe it’s the old story of journos refusing to co-operate with those people as much as the marketeers hegemony that could be the problem.

The converged newsroom opens up huge, perplexing questions. So far they’re being answered by the techies, the brand managers, the publishers, the marketers. When do we hear from the professional journalists? Where is their independent assessment of how these powerful new technologies can be used, not to plant the flag in cyberspace, not to reclaim market share, but to provide great, meaningful journalism?

The common sense answer to that would be that we will hear from the pro-journalists when they decide to say something. Are they waiting for an invite? Maybe we as journos are just paying the price for a ludite attitude both to technology and a changing marketplace from which we somehow think we are immune or somehow have no responsibility for.

Yes, if journalists want to be taken seriously then they need to get involved, but not harp at those that are already involved, throwing brickbats from the bar. Yes there are those involved who think of nothing but money and markets and technology. But if convergence does become the next media disaster, then it’s more likely to be the unwillingness of journalists to play ball that will kill it. And of course when it does all crash down the journalists will be the first to tell you I told you so.

Big media blogs: know your place.

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