Is convergence dead?

Convergence, as in media convergence,  is one of those buzzwords that’s actually hung around longer as a working concept than many in the media industry. Remember synergy. Rarely spoken as a business buzzword these days even if it still sound good in theory..

Newsrooms are “converged” and advertising sales are “bundled.” Newsroom managers manage traditional and digital priorities. Reporters report for the Web and the traditional platform. Ad pricing is linked and account executives are expected to be product experts on a dizzying number of off-line and online products.

Does it work? Media consultant Gordon Borrell says:

“It is unlikely that any web operation can grow to its full potential
without being significantly separated from its parent.”

Cory Bergman at LostRemote has more and sees convergence as an unsustainable strategy.

Do newspaper and TV Web sites need to be cut loose from the paradigm of their traditional media parent? We did that once. Yep, paradigm, as in Paradigm Shift, is another of those classic PowerPoint buzzwords sleepers.

What’s your take?

4 Replies to “Is convergence dead?”

  1. I think the question is a strange one to begin with. Convergence, as synergy before it, lacks largely because of our human inability to see the “big picture” and organize systems to create an ecosystem that allows it.
    Look at Microsoft, once proverbial king of big projects. Vista, from a project management standpoint, was a mess. Delays, rolling back features, and a sloppy release– hardly the stuff of legend. Time Warner and AOL is another classic disaster (before my time, but I watched with youthful optimism).
    True, on a local sales level it may not make sense to bundle things, as Cory’s article points out. But I don’t see why each form of media has to cancel another out. They can extend across and cooperate– just because no one has done it doesn’t mean it can’t be done effectively. In fact, I’m hopeful someone can someday connect the dots. That would be a tremendous market advantage, wouldn’t it?

  2. I wonder whether it is possible to converge the news gathering and separate the business side?
    Seems like an impossible balancing act, but from the content creator side of things, where I have the most experience, you need to serve one master while producing for all mediums if that makes sense. (you can’t answer to an online boss a video boss and a print boss.)

  3. In an email from Borrell’s firm about the new report, it says “convergence sales have become a double-edged sword. Over-reliance on print or broadcast reps selling online products has caused some of them to see single-digit growth rates for online ad revenue at a time when the market is experiencing another surge.”
    That would be a serious problem. It’s kind of hard to grow sales if they are tied to declining sales.
    But I think it’s also true that online and traditional media content work differently and what’s a slam dunk in one media is an air ball in another.
    We thought convergence would allow us to leverage (oh, another oft-overused buzzword) our resources, but the converged whole may be less than the sum of the parts.
    I think strides have been made, but in the end, you do get to David’s two masters problem.
    To Victor’s point, freeing online from the constructs of the traditional media might indeed create a situation where media “can extend across and cooperate.”

  4. I’m starting to wonder if we have yet another platform to ‘converge’ or not to ‘converge’ in mobile. There I think the axiom that “journalism is not just something you read – it is something you do” applies even more than it does in a PC Web browser environment.
    Yet again, I hear myself saying things like “just because it works on the Web, doesn’t mean we can simply port it over to mobile.”
    Deja Vu?
    Yeah, baby.

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