Convergence controversy

The FCC is once again talking about changing the rules that prevent companies from owning a TV station and a newspaper in the same town. But, according to the New York Times, the rule change might actually force some companies to sell off a TV station or newspaper in the same town. Here’s why:

In 1975, the commission adopted a rule that generally restricted a company from owning both a newspaper and a station in the same city. Many companies that already had such holdings at the time, including The New York Times Company, which owns a radio station in Manhattan, were unaffected because of a grandfather clause.

Since then, some companies have received what are supposed to be temporary waivers until new rules are adopted. Most media companies are operating under a waiver, the grandfather clause or both. Those waivers are reviewed any time a station changes hands.

Mr. Martin’s plan would enable a media company to own both a newspaper and either a radio or smaller television station in the nation’s 20 largest markets. If the company owns a TV station, then there must be at least eight independent TV stations and newspapers in the same market.

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“Pocket journalism” via smartphone

nokia-n95.jpgSmartphones are getting smarter all the time. The newest ones not only have cameras, audio recorders and music players, but also WiFi, GPS mapping, and a full suite of office software. Add a foldable keyboard and you’re in business. But are smartphones really ready to replace laptop computers? Maybe for some people but not for journalists, writes Clyde Bently on MediaShift.

I found that to effectively replace a laptop with the current crop of smartphones, a journalist needs the eyes of a 20-year old, the fingertips of an elf and the tenderness of a surgeon. Tiny is tiny, no matter how you look at it. I couldn’t get the knack of quickly switching to audio recorder, photographing a poorly-lit subject on the go and texting the office while walking out of the meeting.

The biggest problem, he says, was that the smartphone he tested wasn’t rugged enough to stand up to the abuse journalists dish out. He tested a Nokia N95 by sticking it in his pocket and scrambling down a hill. When he got to the bottom, the phone’s screen was shattered. Bently says he’s still convinced that computing in the future will be pocket-sized. “But journalists will need fast, Hummer-tough units accessible to 50-something eyes and fingers. There is not much of a market for that yet.”