Media Organizations and Convergence: Case Studies of Media Convergence Pioneers

Article excerpt

Media Organizations and Convergence: Case Studies of Media Convergence Pioneers. Grade L. Lawson-Borders. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2006. 224 pp. $69.95 hbk. $24.50 pbk.

When it comes to book-length treatments on the management of media convergence, there are only a handful of which to speak. While an instructor teaching convergence journalism writing has a range of books from which to select a course text, the same instructor may come up empty if the course is focused on the business or economic side of media that crosses the print, broadcast, and online platforms. Media Organizations and Convergence: case Studies of Media Convergence Pioneers could easily fill this textbook void while also serving as a starting point for generating media management scholarship.

Lawson-Borders, who prior to her academic career worked as both a newspaper reporter and editor, uses a case study approach to take the reader inside newsrooms of three convergence pioneers-Tribune Company, Media General, and Belo Corp. She sees convergence as both process and a concept. The cases described in this work illuminate the process, while the theoretical frameworks offer a perspective for examining the concept.

In a recent issue of Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, one of the first volumes published on managing convergence was criticized for including "too much theory and not enough practical application." The strength of Media Organizations and Convergence is its balance of both theory and application. Chief among these theoretical treatments are Rogers' five stages of innovation in organizations and Fidler's arguments on mediamorphosis. Even before LawsonBorders reviews these frameworks in a separate chapter on "Theoretical Implications" of convergence, she offers her own framework. Her "Seven Observations of Convergence" are communication, commitment, cooperation, compensation, culture, competition, and customer.

Most of the volume is devoted to showing convergence in action. The author used interviews over a two-year period, participant observation, and document analysis to unearth the story behind the Chicago Tribune and its sister broadcast operations at WGN-TV, WGN Radio, and Chicagoland TV (CLTV). Readers are equally informed about what was happening behind the scenes at Media General's News Center in Tampa and Belo's WFAA, TXCN cable, and BeIo Interactive in Dallas.

Most people know that the Tribune Company, Media General, and Belo Corp. print and broadcast properties in the same market before the Federal Communication Commission's cross-ownership ban took effect in 1975. What is less known are things like "the moat speech," in which Belo executives spoke of the driveway between WFAA-TV and Dallas Morning News that employees were not to cross unless going to the cafeteria or seeking medical assistance. …