Convergence: A Love-Hate Relationship Between Media and Audience

“It must be clear that contemporary citizen-consumers demand the right to participate”.

Deuze, Mark (2009): Media Industries, Work and Life. European Journal of Communication.

Being a media professional, one has a tendency to overstate ones own industry and profession.

As a journalist and researcher into journalism education even more so, since many aspects of modern life seem to revolve around or simply involve media.

Reading Mark Deuzes article “Media Industries, Work and Life” has confirmed my belief that media influences all aspects of life today. Deuze examines the concept of convergence and even expands it into a world of a “mediapolis” (Silverstone coined the term in 2006).

Not only do we interact through media, we live in media rather than with media, Deuze suggests. The role of the media in people’s lives includes the production, content and consumption of media.

Amateurs Unite

The media industry is using this consumer behaviour and by doing so the complexity of managing both content and organisations increase as well.

“The ongoing merger of production and consumption across the various media, cultural, and creative industries signals the emergence of a global convergence culture, based on an increasingly participatory and interactive engagement between different media forms and industries, between people and their media, as well as between professional and amateur media makers.”

Studies from among others the OECD and the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project suggest that people “make media when the use media” e.g. maintaining a blog; creating or working on a personal webpage; sharing original content such as artwork, photos, stories, or videos online; and remixing content found online.

A Liquid Relationship

The convergence means that it is no longer professionals that define or develop the content; today audiences, sources, and sponsors partake in the (co-) creation of media content and experiences. Rather than people or physical products, the media production is about skills, values and ideas.

The convergence happening in both production and consumption has led to a more fragmented and uncertain labour market for the journalism profession. The relationships with the audience “are both reciprocal and antagonistic. Such liquid relationships are seldom stable, generally temporary, and at the very least unpredictable.”

What Now?

Where does it leave us, the journalists, as a profession? Well, in order to find our new role in this convergent society we could aim for making journalism a knew knowledge profession as suggested by Donsbach.