25th of December 2006; the family has embarked on a Christmas light quest. As we wander the streets I hardly notice that my sister isn’t complaining for once, for in my hands I hold the true miracle…a Discman! My newly received, already adored, connection to the world. I can’t wait to show Holly at school next year!
Fast-forward to 2016 and here I am: typing on my laptop, which is charging my iPhone, while the woman beside me watches dog adoption videos on YouTube. Nowadays I’m never without some form of technology. A whole new world, huh? My rapid technological journey is a prime example of media convergence at work.
I would describe convergence similarly to Henry Jenkins (2006), who defines the process as “the flow of content across media platforms…and the migratory behaviour of media audiences.” As digital technology progresses, companies begin distributing content over multiple communication outlets. For example, popular newspaper ‘The Australian’ now delivers information over numerous platforms: an online subscription service, regular twitter updates, Facebook links and, more recently, an iPhone app. Where previously news was delivered once a day at most, information is now constant as a result of merging media.
Arguably, the most beneficial aspect of convergence is the rise of a ‘participatory culture’. The circulation, creation and success of content now relies heavily on the audience’s active participation. Enter the ‘prosumer’- a hybrid of consumer and producer! These prosumers opinions and desires help shape not only the entertainment industry, but news. Think back to where you first heard of the Brussel’s bombings… Dozens of people filmed and tweeted first-hand information, essentially acting as citizen journalists.
Are the regular Joe’s finally getting a say?
Unfortunately, media convergence does not come without its share of complications. While it does not necessarily mean the ‘death’ of legacy media, convergence does impact the level of operation and status of these platforms. We see it in the loss of 120 jobs at Fairfax; print media just isn’t the star it used to be. Furthermore, there has been an alarming concentration in the ownership of mainstream media, with a handful of multi-nation media companies now dominating all sectors.
Question: How many companies does Google’s owner Alphabet control?
I don’t get it either…Source: http://memegenerator.net/instance/63973300
Answer: Currently, Alphabet own 75 different enterprises! The most ‘mainstream’ of these being YouTube, Nexus, Android and AdSense. This leads us to ask, “Does media convergence really allow for more diverse expression? Or are ‘big media’ corporations set to gain further power?”
Within my lifetime, media technology has transformed so drastically that I can’t say for sure! There is certainly interplay between both aspects of media convergence: audience participation and media concentration. Whether one will dominate remains to be seen.
What I do know is: I can no longer imagine life without technology, can you?
- Jenkins Henry, (2006). ‘Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide’, New York University Press, pg. 2-10
- Turnbull Sue, (2016). ‘Media Convergence’ BCM110, University of Wollongong
- Page Larry, (2015). ‘G is for Google’ Available at: https://abc.xyz (Accessed 1 April 16)
- (2016). ‘Fairfax Media to cut 120 editorial jobs.’ Available at: http://mumbrella.com.au/fairfax-media-cuts-120-jobs-smh-the-age-353866. [Accessed 31 March 16].