Saturday, October 15, 2005

Convergence Conference Wraps Up

Brigham Young University's Daily Universe newsroom plays host to those attending this week's convergence conference.

PROVO, Utah-- Courses and curriculum changes topped the final day of the Fourth Annual Conference on Media Convergence with Brigham Young University faculty responding to a national report on their retreat from a converged curriculum.

A report in the September 2005 edition of the Society of Professional Journalist membership publication, Quill, indicated BYU had decided to “say no to convergence” possibly signaling a “back to basics movement” among journalism programs.

Today BYU faculty offered their own clarifications about their recent curriculum revisions, which they readily admit are still in flux.

Instead of required courses teaching print, broadcast and online journalism at once, which BYU faculty say provided a “watered down journalism experience,” the revised BYU curriculum has separate print and broadcast programs where students may choose to learn convergence instead of being forced into it.

“I think we’ve overwhelmed them and overwhelmed ourselves,” said Quint Randle, who now teaches a multimedia production course at BYU and co-hosted this week’s convergence conference. “For me it’s all about storytelling. That’s what’s exciting about converged media.”

Concerns of the BYU faculty were echoed by other presenters who shared “lessons from the classroom” on this final day of the three-day meeting. While some faculty talked of proposed certificate programs in convergence, others questioned whether media cross-training is even a wise thing to do.

A newspaper veteran who has studied the introduction of pagination in the newspaper newsroom, John Russial told his story as one who has taught lower-level converged courses for nine years, most recently at the University of Oregon.

“There’s no way I’ll ever be able to speak with authority about editing video,” Russial said.

Looking forward to future convergence conferences, Russial offered a laundry list of unexplored questions that he says convergence researchers need to explore.

The Conference on Media Convergence returns to South Carolina next fall on October 19-21,2006 at the USC Campus in Columbia.

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