Six tips for convergence

How is newsroom convergence like a shotgun wedding?  Just ask the folks at Kent State University, where the campus newspaper, radio and TV stations share one newsroom and Web site.  The story behind the story is now online–a humorous and engaging look by professor Fred Endres at how the “wedding” was planned and carried out.

The hardest part–no surprise–was the “culture shift” of getting everyone into a multimedia mindset.  There were plenty of others bumps along the way, and the newsroom remains a work in progress, not yet fully converged.  But KSU’s experience offers valuable lessons for any organization planning a converged or collaborative newsroom.

  • Begin planning early. Kent State planned for more than a year before putting a stick of furniture in place.
  • Make the space open and flexible. It will increase communication and collaboration.
  • Provide multimedia tools, software and hardware tools to practice multimedia journalism.
  • Let staff [or students]  lead the way to convergence. It is their newsroom, and they need to be invested in the plan and the goal.
  • Commit resources – time, money, people — to a collaborative Web site, and try to make that Web site the core of the newsroom.
  • Set realistic goals. If you have a core group…who truly want to make it work, you’ve got a good shot at doing so.

As for equipment, the KSU team advises, “buy wise but don’t buy cheap.”  Among the gear they’re using: the  Canon ZR-930 mini-DV camera, the HD Canon HV30, and Audio Technica microphones (803 lav and 8004 handheld).

Software, on the other hand, can be both cheap and good. Most folks already know about Audacity, the free audio editing program.  But instead of Photoshop, KSU suggests Gimp, a free download. Need a field Teleprompter for script reads? Try the free CuePrompter.

Kudos to Kent State for sharing their lessons learned.  If you’ve gone down the same road and have other suggestions to add, please add a comment.

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