The influence of media convergence on strategies in newspaper production

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: Convergence implies that previously unalike areas come together, approaching a common goal. A subordinate concept of convergence, i.e., media convergence, is a concept that has become common when denoting a range of processes within the production of media content, its distribution and consumption. The concept of media convergence has achieved buzzword status in many contexts due to its widespread use.The concept is not new and has been discussed by researchers in many academic fields and from several different points of views. This thesis will discuss media convergence as an ongoing process and not an end state.Newspapers are one of many so-called publishing channels that provide information and entertainment. They have traditionally been printed on paper, but today’s digital technology makes it possible to provide newspapers through a number of different channels. The current strategy used by newspaper companies involves a process of convergence mainly regarding multiple publishing. A newspaper company interested in publishing content through multiple channels has to adapt its production workflow to produce content not only for the traditional printed edition, but also for the other channels.In this thesis, a generalized value chain involving four main stages illustrates the production workflow at a newspaper company in relation to the convergence processes. The four stages are creation, packaging, distribution and consumption of content.The findings of the thesis are based on studies of the newspaper industry in Sweden and reflect specific newspaper companies, their strategies, production workflow and ventures from 2002 to 2005. The methods used have been case studies, literature studies and scenarios.Some of the conclusions of the thesis indicate that convergence processes have steered the newspaper companies’ development towards multiple channel publishing. Advancing technology and mergers between companies have contributed to the processes of convergence. However, the new publishing channels have been described as threatening to the traditional printed editions since they compete for consumers’ time and advertising revenues. Convergence of technology has made it possible to store, edit and publish material over many different networks using the same tools and the same database system. If the content is stored in a neutral format, it can be packaged and used in many different types of publishing channels. However, according to the studied newspapers, a fully automated workflow for all publishing channels is undesirable and impossible to achieve with the existing technology, standards and organizational structure.This licentiate thesis will discuss some of the strategies behind multiple channel publishing, production workflows and market conditions to detect how the newspaper industry is coping with media convergence.