Europeans Follow Similar Convergence Path

By: Meg Campbell

Before the Ifra conference last month, a small group of media execs met with members of the European Mudia project (Multimedia Developments in the Information Age) to learn more about the state of convergent media abroad.

The research consortium has been studying newspapers’ efforts to incorporate multimedia for 18 months to determine new media roles and consumption patterns, and to establish benchmarks, explains Jan Bierhoff, director of the European Centre for Digital Communication and Mudia’s project director. “We were trying to develop the instruments to systematically analyze what’s going on, and now we are looking to find ways to apply findings to the industry,” he says.

Presentations included a benchmark study by Martha Stone that looked at the multimedia activities in 24 European media concerns. Her findings indicate that the strategies working at the most-converged media operations include a top-down management approach, journalists from different media sharing the same physical space, an integrated work flow for content, a common database, and training of journalists.

Other presentations included looking at users’ roles in online news, and the impact of digital technologies on the media industry.

Attendees profess to be heartened by the fact the U.S. and European operations are facing some of the same problems when dealing with convergence, such as training journalists, dealing with new technologies, incorporating reader response, and blending advertising.

“The situation that was described sounds familiar,” says Media General Inc. President and Chief Operating Officer Reid Ashe. Adds England’s Manchester Evening News Editor Paul Horrocks, “The research gave me confidence that this is the right path.”

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