When I visited the University of Missouri last week I learned about the Missouri School of Journalism’s first new major in more than 50 years—Convergence Journalism. They launched the program in 2005, which just happened to be the same year You Tube was founded.
According to the school’s website one of the reasons for this new major is, “The audience for news and information is less passive than it used to be. Many people, especially younger people, want to create, respond to and remix media. Increasingly they have the tools and skills to do so. Full-time journalists need to accept this power shift and take advantage of the opportunities it presents.”
I saw J-School students working on AVID and Final Cut Pro. I was told of students who produced, write, shoot and edit their own projects. Of course, I see all of this as a good sign. I will be speaking to high school students this week at the University of Northern Iowa’s Electronic Media Workshop Fast Forward and so all of this is fresh on my mind. As someone who made his first films and videos in high school & college, worked as a writer/photographer at a small newspaper while in school, and have done a little bit of just about every key role you can do on a film and video set—I love the word convergence.
And there seems to have been a world of change just in the past six years since Missouri started their program. In 2006, I had a still frame from a video I shot end up on the front page of Yahoo! and I began to see the potential in a new light. As the digital pipeline expanded and videos became less herky-jerky online, I watched as more and more people begin to use the web for watching news, movies and TV shows. And not surprisingly, newspaper and magazine circulation and network TV news viewers have all dropped. A loss of advertising revenue in traditional media outlets resulted in a loss of media jobs. Sure some of that can be blamed on a poor economy, but I do think that having a convergence mindset is a healthy one in this digital age.
If you’re still in school, or in a job transition in your life, this is a great time to embrace the tools that are out there. Tools that not only make you a better storyteller, but give you an opportunity to make a living well into the future. If you’re a writer, pick up a video camera and start shooting. If you’re a cameraman, start editing. If you’re a still photographer, start shooting video. If you don’t blog, start blogging. Converge.
A great place to start is Lynda.com which is the single best place for creative people to get online training for as little as $25 a month. (And probably more valuable and practical than some schools that charge $25,000 a year.)
This week I’ll show some videos I field produced that give some feet to the kinds of storytelling that merge journalism, advertising, and filmmaking.
P.S. And for what it’s worth, ticket sales at movie theaters have been in decline since 2002. (David Germin reported that, “Taken together, the summers of 2010 and 2011 combined for the smallest domestic audiences since the summers of 1997-98.”)