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February 18, 2016

Converging Media

Chapters 1 and 2.

Chapters 1 and 2 detail the types of convergence taking place in our world today; from technological, economic, and cultural convergence.

Technological convergence entails the coming together of audio, print, and video into a single piece of information. Technological convergence is a constant, as we use our phone to check our messages on social media, call and text, browse the internet, consume news, take photographs, and even study on our phones.

The economic model of convergence deals with the aspect of different industry corporations’ merging with others; such as telecommunications companies amalgamating with traditional media such as NBC. While this may seem like the American dream it has severe conflicts of interest, as large corporations control the flow of information, especially information concerning the parent company. Couple this with companies doubling their share of the audience, hence influence.

The other type of convergence deals with cultural, as the US has been exporting its TV shows for decades. Growing up in the 80’s I loved shows like the A-team, and knight rider to name a few. Today, the global village, as McLuhan predicted, is getting smaller and smaller and as globalization increases, the world is becoming more homogenous, especially through social media, and blogs, as very few ideologies and paradigms drive opinions among a mass of people. This is where interpersonal and mass communication intersects, and also ties in with economic convergence as centralized news corporations have the privilege to shape public opinion across a wide spectrum of regions in the world, as well as behavioral targeting in individual users on the web. These factors affect the very core of mass communication of surveillance, correlation, cultural transmission and to a degree entertainment.

These three convergences have wider implications in the media world. The book details eight factors:

  • Companies create an oligopoly in that they have a wide reaching control on information dissemination.
  • Media type changes and how the law and free speech affect these mediums.
  • Media content changes, and how we interact with media, like slideshows for news stories, photojournalism. All in all, we are seeing the digitization of content with more interactivity.
  • Media use changes, and how we consume media and carry it with us everywhere. We have info at our fingertips, but media companies have us in their hands, as we become ‘super-consumers’.
  • Media distribution changes, and how we collect and consume media, and from whom. We can now use peer to peer information sharing as well as listen to music on youtube for “free”.
  • Audience changes deals with the rise of produsers and active audiences as we create, consume and use media for our own validation and gratification.
  • Media profession changes deals with the rise of citizen journalism, and converged content such as print, audio, and video into one medium, and how professionals are expected to know how to deliver them.
  • Attitudes and value changes looks at how we come to expect transparency, trust, and accountability from companies, and people in a position of influence.

Pavlik et al also explores the media literacy and our ability to perceive media independently of covert influence that encompasses regulatory, sociocultural, and technological factors. We are being bombarded with stories manipulated by sensationalist media, and cute editing. All of the above convergences affect media literacy as media conglomerates control the airwaves, broadband, satellite TV, as well as our “most trusted” news sources both in print and broadcast. At the same time, anyone can write anything, and make it credible, especially if it something rhetorical that the target audience wants to believe.

We need to be extremely apprehensive on media sources no matter where it comes from. Whenever I find myself having a strong opinion on current events, I always ask myself, whose opinion is this, and where did I hear it from? It is not mine, as I have not been in that region nor do I know that person. Is it really worth getting emotionally involved in a story that is designed to manipulate your evolutionary response to fear? We are hardwired to look out for threats, and that keeps us addicted to negative stories. We are also prone to have the desire to be heard, and accepted, thus echoing popular sentiment which is easy to gauge through likes, and shares on social media platforms.

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