EXAMINING MEDIA CONVERGENCE: THE NIGERIAN CONTEXT

CONVERGENCE

Convergence is a very polysemous (several meanings for a word) concept that has been used to describe various trends in journalism that have something in common: the blurring of the limits between different media, professional skills and roles strategies (Dupagne and Garrison, 2006; Silcock and Keith, 2006).

However in communication terms, Convergence is a coming together of two or more distinct entities or phenomena, thereby removing entry barriers across the IT, telecoms, media and consumer electronics industries. It is increasingly common in the IT world; in this context the term refers to the combination of two or more different technologies in a single device. For instance, taking pictures with a cell phone and surfing the Web on a television are two of the most common examples of this trend, and also the recent innovation of an I-phone being used to shoot a video film in Japan.

Convergence, simply put, is how individual consumers interact with others on a social level and use various media platforms to create new experiences, new forms of media and content that connect us socially, and not just to other consumers, but to the corporate producers of media in ways that have not been as readily accessible in the past.

MEDIA CONVERGENCE

Media Convergence

Media convergence is an economic strategy in which communications companies seek financial benefit by making the various media properties they own work together. The strategy is a product of three elements:

  • corporate concentration, whereby fewer large companies own more and more media properties;
  • digitization, whereby media content produced in a universal computer language can be easily adapted for use in any medium; and
  • government deregulation, which has increasingly allowed media conglomerates to own different kinds of media (e.g., television and radio stations and newspapers) in the same markets, and which has permitted content carriage companies (e.g., cable TV suppliers) to own content producers (e.g., specialty TV channels).

According to Dupagne and Garrison (2006); Silcock and Keith (2006), the common ground for any process labeled as media convergence is the blurring of the limits between different media –professional skills, formats, production strategies. Deuze (2004) then adds another similar trend: the blurring between the roles of producer and consumer. Thus, they proposed to analytically structure convergence into four dimensions that cover different phases of the communication process:

  • Integrated production – Content
  • Multi-skilled professionals – Source
  • Multiplatform delivery – Medium
  • Active audience – Receiver

Any of these dimensions of convergence can be developed in the media on its own, but in many cases, they are part of the same convergent project, which is to pass messages through a particular platform.

CASE STUDY: NIGERIA

Following the above proposition of the four major dimensions that cover Media Convergence, having examined the Nigerian Media system, no media organization fall totally into these dimensions.

In the first dimension which has to do with Integrated Production, the most relevant signs of convergence are to be found in the reformation of newsrooms which is also linked to the redefinition of professional roles, technical innovation and the development of innovative news formats and languages.

In Nigeria today, most reporters, photojournalist, video-journalism, editors, etc submit their stories, photos or videos through the internet or their mobile phone. Unlike in the last decade when editors and reporters work from personal offices/ independent newsrooms which sometimes delay the production of news-stories. They collaborate more and develop forms of integration of all the journalists into one newsroom, in which at the end of the day produces the content for different outlets at the same time.

Digitization of the production processes has been the technological innovation that has supported newsroom integration in most media houses across the nation.

Using the convergence of the multi-skilled professionals to examine the Nigerian media, it can be observed that Nigerian journalist are not only trained to report news stories but also to report the audios, photos and videos of the event using their mobile phones or devices. Various workshops have been organized to train journalist to be skilled and professionally inclined with today’s technology.

The ideal Multi-skilled journalist, as some authors have suggested to label them (Bromley, 1997) would be able to produce news for any medium using any technological tool needed in every step of the process. This strategy allows companies to reduce labour, administrative and material costs, to use the same media content across several media outlets, to attract increased advertising by providing advertisers with package deals and one-stop shopping for a number of media platforms, and to increase brand recognition and brand loyalty among audiences through cross-promotion and cross-selling.

Multi-Platform Delivery of content has been the dimension of convergence that more visibly has developed in recent years, even though journalism research has seldom paid attention to the implications of this trend. The maturity of the Internet and mobile communications, as well as the data-enabled digital television systems have broaden the range of options for the citizens to access the news.

Broadcasting has increasingly been replaced by the Internet, enabling consumers all over the world the freedom to access their preferred media content more easily and at a more available rate than ever before. Many Nigerians can now access news information from their mobile phones, or internet, especially with the advent of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn abd blog sites such as Naira land. It has been observed that newspaper organisations have adopted the means of internet to publish their stories. Examples like The Punch (www.punchng.com), The Guardian (www.ngrguardiannews.com), The Sun News (www.sunnewsonline.com), Thisday (www.thisdaylive.com), The Nation (www.thenationliveng.net), etc.

Even radio stations like Radio Nigerian (), Freedom Radio (www.freedomradionig.com), Radio Lagos(www.radiolagosekofm.net), Classic FM (www.classic97.net), Brilla FM (www.brilafm.net), etc cannot but allow their presence to be felt worldwide prior to media convergence in Nigeria and Digitization.

Current media trends do not only seem to blur the differences among the media, but also the distance between producers and audiences (Jenkins, 2004). The origin of this redefinition of the relationship between journalists and citizens can be found in the qualitative changes in the audience habits and attitudes (Livingstone, 1999), namely fragmentation, specialization and active participation. Digital distribution technologies allow for the customization of content and ease the production of news that is highly targeted to specific niche audiences (Tewksbury, 2005). But it is active participation what may have a greater influence in the redefinition of professional journalism.

For the Nigerian journalist, the mobile phone keeps him in close contact with news sources. Besides, most journalists now have in their possession multimedia devices that enable them to take instant photographs, record interviews and keeps them connected to the internet. Other professionals also have leveraged on the importance of mobile phone

Blogs, wikis and other self-publishing tools have eased the ability of the netizens to produce their own content and potentially reach a global audience. Nowadays, everyone is a journalist due to the fact that there are forums in which the right thinking members of the society (non-journalist) can contribute to the comment/issues facing the society. In print publications, the citizens are given a separate page to publish their opinions about issues that affect them in their immediate society. The Broadcast media also has audience participation programs like One-on-One (NTA), Moments with MO, Inside out with Agatha, Tom- Tom road show on Inspiration FM, etc.

Below is a representation of the Media Convergence in Nigeria.

THE BROADCAST PARADIGM IN NIGERIA

Radio Stations Television Stations Online Radio Satellite Others Social Networks
Silverbird Group Rhythm FM Silverbird Television STV online Silverbird Television Mall and Cinema Twitter, Facebook
DAAR Communications Raypower AIT AIT online DaarSat and AIT (DSTV) Same as above
Continent Radio Continental Television  Continental TVC online Nil Nil Same as above
Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation Radio Nigeria Nigerian  Television Authority NTA online NTA 1 Same as above
Lagos state Broadcasting Corporation Radio Lagos (Yoruba) and Eko FM (English) Lagos Television (LTV) Radio online , Eko89.75fm online and LTV online LTV Same as above
Channels Nil Channels TV Channels (audio and Video) Channels TV Mobile Same as above
Brila Broadcasting Services Brila FM Nil Brila FM online Nil Same as above
DBN Limited Nil DBN TV Nil Same as above
Galaxy Galaxy TV online Nil Same as above
MITV MITV Same as above

THE PRINT PARADIGM IN NIGERIA

Print Publications Online Publications Mobile Publications
Punch Present Present Present
P.M News P.M News Present
The Nation The Nation Present Present
Sun Sun Present
Thisday Thisday Present
Vanguard Vanguard Present Present
Nigerian Tribune Nigerian Tribune Tribune online
Genevieve Magazine Genevieve Magazine Genevieve magazine online
News watch News watch Present
Tell Magazine Tell Magazine Present
Financial Standard Financial Standard Present
Business Day Business Day Present
Guardian Guardian Guardian
Daily Trust Daily Trust Daily Trust online

Reference:

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About Elle Phree

A student of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, studying Mass Communication. I express myself more with pictures which gave birth to my other blog (www.ellephree.blogspot.com). I am a journalist and also an entertainer who loves singing, dancing, acting and taking photographs. In the aspect of Photography, my Role Model is Henri Cartier Bresson, a photo-journalist who takes his shots at the flash of a Decisive Moment.
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