Convergence is a really interesting word. One of my favorite definitions from the wonderful Merriam-Webster dictionary is the "merging of distinct technologies, industries or devices into a unified whole." This definitely represents USC Annenberg Media and the particular mindset members of the faculty and student body have adopted since the opening of Wallis Annenberg Hall in 2014. For me, in particular, I did not truly understand what this meant for the future of our many news teams until I began to produce this semester.
In my freshman year, I knew I wanted to work for Annenberg TV News. I also knew about other news outlets under the same umbrella such as Annenberg Radio News and Neon Tommy, but I never really thought I would have an opportunity because of my commitment to ATVN. Now, with a brand-new media center specifically built to incorporate all major news mediums, I have the ability to get a taste of everything and improve my skills as a multimedia journalist.
Speaking of MJs, our new converged news platforms have changed the way we assign and execute stories to produce content in an efficient manner. Before, each news team would send separate people to cover one story. Today, we ensure each multimedia journalist has the ability to write web stories for our website, record tracks for our radio show, and edit video content for our newscasts and social media pages.
Communication amongst the media center managers is even more important than it was before. As TV newscast producers, we have to discuss how to approach every story we tackle from every angle possible. That means we work with web editors and radio journalists to make sure the same content can be easily transferred from one medium to the next.
One great example of convergence was during our coverage of the terror attack in Brussels. Everyone was working together before we started our morning meeting to get the information out that we had and to find new angles for the story. One major advantage for our news team that morning was our contacts with other students studying abroad. Soon enough, we had videos coming in from Europe that were posted immediately to Twitter and Facebook, used in a subsequent web post and then edited later for the ATVN newscast. None of our coverage in the morning would have happened without the joint effort of every news team to get the information out there on every possible platform at our disposal.
Although I think the media center has come a long way in the last two years of digital media convergence, I still see more opportunities to explore innovative methods of storytelling. Producers should not only think about how to prep a story for a newscast or the web, but how it can be told in a digital format. More collaboration with the growing JEDI unit would boost awareness of stories earlier in the day, which could be elaborated on later in the evening during the radio and TV newscasts. Producers should also think about how to use emerging platforms as a way to engage the audience. One thing we could try is doing Facebook Live before the newscast starts to give our online audience some notice about the top stories of the day.
Overall, I love that everyone continues to embrace digital media as the new normal for producing content, but I also love that we are not forgetting our roots as journalists. We have to keep pushing our brand out into the world to show that we are a reliable, resourceful, and revolutionary college news organization.