A CASE STUDY OF MEDIA CONVERGENCE AT MEDIA GENERAL’S TAMPA NEWS CENTER
Bruce Garrison Professor School of Communication University of Miami 5100 Brunson Drive Coral Gables, FL 33146 Voice: 305-284-2846 Fax: 305-284-5205 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michel Dupagne Associate Professor School of Communication University of Miami 5100 Brunson Drive Coral Gables, FL 33146 Voice: 305-284-3500 Fax: 305-284-5205 E-mail: email@example.com
A paper presented at the “Expanding Convergence: Media Use in a Changing Information Environment” Conference, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, November 6-8, 2003. The authors are grateful to Edward Pfister, Dean of the School of Communication at the University of Miami, for funding this project. They also thank Yvonne He and Ambar Hernandez for their assistance with data collection and transcription.
Media Convergence 2 A CASE STUDY OF MEDIA CONVERGENCE AT MEDIA GENERAL’S TAMPA NEWS CENTER
ABSTRACT In March 2000, Media General made created industry attention by creating the Tampa News Center and moving the operations of The Tampa Tribune, WFLA-TV, and the Tampa Bay Online (TBO.com) service under the same roof. Viewed as a possible model for future newsrooms, this media convergence experiment has generated considerable interest in the trade press, but, despite its importance for academic studies, it has received little scholarly treatment. We conducted a series of in-depth interviews with a total of 12 news directors, editors, producers, reporters, and technical personnel from the News Center to understand the meaning of media convergence, changes in the newsroom culture, and implications for journalism education. Respondents viewed media convergence and its impact in the newsroom primarily as a newsgathering tool that has led to combined as well as additional resources. Jobs and roles have changed due to the additional resources, common facilities, and new responsibilities. Respondents also felt that they do more multimedia thinking about storytelling because they have been required to learn more about the other platforms. In terms of journalism and mass communication education, respondents stressed the importance of strong fundamentals such as writing, reporting, and communication skills, but they also emphasized the need for adaptability across platforms.
Media Convergence 3 A CASE STUDY OF MEDIA CONVERGENCE AT MEDIA GENERAL’S TAMPA NEWS CENTER
On June 2, 2003, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) (2003) relaxed its media ownership rules to permit, among other things, common ownership of a broadcast station and a daily newspaper in markets with at least four television stations. The FCC concluded that “the record does not contain data or other information demonstrating that common ownership of broadcast stations and daily newspapers in the same community poses a widespread threat to diversity of viewpoint or programming” (p. 149). If affirmed by the courts, this change would mean that a newspaper owner could acquire a television or radio station in about 180 of the 210 television markets (Fitzgerald & Moses, 2003). To those watching the Commission proceedings on C-SPAN, this was a sure sign that media convergence as a complex process blending technologies and industries would continue its inexorable march in the marketplace. Numerous lobbying organizations, columnists, and policymakers, both from the left and the right, have opposed these revisions with rare unity and have argued that the new rules are not in the public interest and will stifle diversity of reporting and viewpoints (e.g., Bednarski, 2003; Labaton, 2003; Safire, 2003; Trigoboff, 2003). Industrialist and CNN founder Ted Turner (2003) expressed his concerns about the further consolidation and news sharing in a Washington Post editorial: “Even more troubling are the warning signs that large media corporations—with massive market power—could...