This turned out to be way harder than expected. Do you agree?
All examples of convergence seem to be too obvious to even bother to discuss. What to do then? I decided to pick up the absolute cliché: so obvious and mundane that it is almost impossible to miss. Still, one that is completely overlooked.
I give to you: the smartphone.
I told you it was too obvious to consider. But I believe there is something else to this example of media and technological convergence. Something that might be useful to us as media specialists but also something that might cost us our future jobs.
The smartphone is indeed an extraordinary product of convergence. It has changed both how audiences treat themselves and how the media treat them. However, the occurred changes and implications differ.
What has changed for users? Simple. Everything is now within the convenient reach of one’s pocket. Users are granted access to technologies used by the media (audio recorders, good quality cameras, microphones etc.) in order to make news. The gap between media producers and media consumers has narrowed dramatically, if not disappeared. Something remarkable happened: the audience could finally be its own news provider (Allan, 2013).
What about us? For those working in the news industry, this convergence brought the wonders of ‘mobile reporting:’ a faster, more effective way of getting content back to the newsroom. News gathering, content production and distribution became easier than ever. The smartphone was now our camera, recorder, microphone and notebook. We were our crew. Twitter was our sharing platform.
The primary implication: we can now produce news constantly and in larger quantities. Exactly what the ‘news machine’ needs. Or, is it?
Smartphones are available to everybody. Therefore, everybody can perform ‘mobile reporting.’ Where does that place us? Will we be left unemployed?
Maybe converging was not such a good idea after all . . .