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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 la-
bel 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 multime-
dia newsrooms, the subtle yet pervasive changes in work routines and organizational structures con-
nected to these new production arrangements, the development of new news formats windowing con-
tent 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 in-
dustry. 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-
238 Buchbesprechungen

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 (in-
cluding 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 digi-
tal, 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 con-
vergence within a broader – or, considering Silverstone’s warning, less dangerous – framework for un-
derstanding 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 »busi-
ness 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 con-
siderations 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 exclu-
sively 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 ex-
perts (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 per-
sonally. Deuze was not informed about the use of this picture as the book cover.
Buchbesprechungen 239

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 conver-
gence, 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 perspec-
tives 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 to-
gether 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 multi-
media 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 per-
ceive 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 com-
prehensive report by the International Labor Organization and the International Federation of Jour-
nalists) 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 docu-
mented in the companion volume, »Conversations on Convergence«. This book presents all the inter-
view 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 mate-
rial, there is certainly some amount of overlap – and the omissions from the first volume are repro-
duced 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 educa-
tion, 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, basi-
cally 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 pro-
duction, could be mentioned here, as well as new start up multimedia companies or forms of bottom-
up convergence journalism such as Scoopt (UK), OhmyNews (South Korea), JanJan (Japan), or simi-
lar 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 conversa-
tions 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 con-
cepts 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-
240 Buchbesprechungen

istic convergence means (chapter 3), then focuses on journalistic change and what kind of develop-
ments 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 mate-
rial. 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 ma-
terial 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 news-
rooms 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 chap-
ters, 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 envi-
ronment (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 informa-
tion 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
Buchbesprechungen 241

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 im-
plications 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 refresh-
ing 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. Acknow-
ledging the difficulties of the cultural and creative process in newswork, Killebrew differentiates be-
tween »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 orga-
nize 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 regula-
tions (chapter 8) are very specific to the U.S. situation. Although a discussion of the Federal Commu-
nications 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 semi-
nars 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 disser-
tation thesis at the LMU Munich). In contrast to the other books discussed here, it is a research docu-
ment, 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 his-
tory 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 chap-
ters: 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 simi-
lar 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.
242 Buchbesprechungen

C ONCLUSION : C ONVERGENCE – STILL A HOT TOPIC !

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 sev-
eral journal articles by Gillian Ursell on the situation in the United Kingdom), as there seems to be rel-
atively few consideration of the role bottom-up convergence plays in the news (with a notable excep-
tion 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
yet. MARK DEUZE, Leiden/Bloomington (IN)/THORSTEN QUANDT, München

Jürgen Heinrich/Gerd G. Kopper (Hrsg.): Media studying media economics in Europe, or perhaps
Economics in Europe. – Berlin: Vistas Verlag 2006 to those outside the region in a course in global
(= Reihe: Informationskultur in Europa; Bd. 4), communication or global media economics.
252 Seiten, Eur 30,–. The volume is divided into two large sections.
Part A begins with an examination of media eco-
»Media Economics in Europe« is a welcome ad- nomics development in Europe and the United
dition to the literature in this field – and the first States authored by Robert Picard; this chapter
edited volume to attempt any sort of synthesis on examines more of the differences than the simi-
the state of media economics across some of the larities between the entities. The remaining six
European countries. Edited by Professors Jürgen chapters examine the development of media eco-
Heinrich and Gerd G. Kopper, the volume con- nomics among six regions in Europe as estab-
tains contributions from many of the important lished by the editors. These areas include Eastern
scholars and contributors to our understanding Europe (Mihaly Galik), France (Nadine
of media economics. Toussaint Demoulins), German-speaking coun-
This volume is especially welcome to those of tries (Jürgen Heinrich and Frank Lobigs), the
us on this side of the Atlantic; previously there Nordic nations (Karl Erik Gustafsson), Spain
has not been a single source scholars in North (Alfonso Sanchez-Tabernero) and the United
America could look to for knowledge of the situ- Kingdom (Gillian Doyle). While each of these
ation in Europe. This text fills this important chapters provide interesting historical informa-
gap. tion on the development of media economics
The volume is primarily designed as a research within the particular country/region, the chap-
compendium, as there are no pedagogical mate- ters are somewhat disjointed in the presentation
rials (e. g. objectives, discussion items) presented in that they don’t follow a consistent framework.
within the chapters. It is unfortunate that the As such, some chapters provide detail on key
publisher failed to include an index for the book; issues within the country/region, while others
I found myself searching for terms or concepts ignore such a discussion.
and was forced to thumb through page after While it certainly was not possible to cover
page. The book would be useful for students every country that comprises Europe (although