Convergence a part of the changing face of journalism

by MITCHELL BROWN, Muleskinner

As a new semester at Central begins, I find myself thinking about the amount of changes I’ve witnessed while here.

One university president left, and a new one took office; a new student recreation center was built; and the major I chose, journalism, was phased out, but those enrolled prior to the discontinuation of the program will still graduate with a degree in journalism.

In 2010, a few other majors were discontinued or amalgamated into a new major, which is what happened with journalism courses. Many of the courses that were part of the journalism program will now go towards the new Digital Media Production major, which combines journalistic writing with video editing and production, etc.

Proponents of the new major said it would enable journalists to be better equipped in a changing field, a field in which convergence is the new name of the game. Convergence is the process of combining divergent media into one body. It’s the reason why the modern journalist should be more versatile. In today’s industry, a journalist who started out working in print might also end up shooting video footage.

The practice of journalism will not disappear. As a glut of information exists in an unregulated format online, reporters are needed to sift through that information. I’m not at all worried about the changing face of journalism. I fully accept the challenge and am actually excited about it. Maybe the transition going on within journalism will act as a form of natural selection, and the best and brightest in the field could create an increased standard of excellence for modern journalism.

A human element exists with convergence. Convergence involves working across interdisciplinary lines. Last fall, I was working with a group of broadcast media students as on air talent for a news magazine show we had created called Central Talk, with the hope of having a strong online presence. I had no prior experience in front of the camera, but I figured I would take a chance. As fun as the experience was, it didn’t last.

As finals drew closer, one of the main students behind the show said he wouldn’t have time to edit any more footage. After only two episodes, the show came to an end. But during that brief period of time, I learned a valuable lesson about what can be created when students from different majors work together.

I don’t see why inter-major cooperation has to end there; it could easily be transferred to this publication. The more students who are involved, the more diverse the content becomes, which could lead to more students reading and contributing to the Muleskinner.

One of the aims of the journalist should be to capture the diversity of the human experience. Such a goal can more easily be met if you have a diverse staff working on a publication. I’m not only a journalism major; I’m also a history major. With a lot of the columns and news stories I write, I like to bring a historical perspective to them. I’m sure, somewhere there is a science major with a knack for writing who would be equipped to cover stories pertaining to the sciences, or a music major who could apply his or her knowledge to stories about musical events.

The ability to capture diverse story content lies within a diverse student population, and a more panoramic view could come into existence by building more bridges between majors.