Communication Media Convergence
by
Richard A. Gershon
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 June 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0026

Introduction

For communication scholars, convergence is a fairly elastic term that has come to mean different things depending on time, application, and context. There are a number of driving forces that focus public attention on the issue, including the digitalization of media and information technology, worldwide deregulation trends, changes in technology (most notably the Internet), merger and acquisition activities, and the search for new market. While the term convergence may be elastic, it shoulders an important responsibility in helping to explain the ramifications of technologies and business enterprises that are linked together. Media convergence is the merging (or joining together) of previously distinct media to create entirely new forms of communication expression. Convergence is at the heart of today’s digital media revolution and includes such technologies and software applications as the Internet and electronic commerce, smartphone technology, digital-film animation, DVD (digital video disc) music and high-definition television (HDTV), and videogame systems to name only a few. Over time, convergence has become a fairly elastic term that has come to mean different things depending on time, application, and context. For communication scholars, there are a number of driving forces that focus public attention on the issue, including the digitalization of media and information technology, media merger and acquisition activities, changes in technology (most notably the Internet), the repurposing of old media into new media formats, and the growing importance of social networking and virtual communities. Numerous books, chapters, and articles have been written on the topic of media convergence. They vary in size and quality from the scholarly to the popular press. As Mike Wirth points out, “One of the challenges of studying media convergence is that the concept is so broad that it has multiple meanings.” (See Wirth 2006, p. 445, cited under Technology and Economic Performance). More so, because the term is implied in a number of related terms and ideas, including: digital media, cross-media ownership, transnational media, and broadband communication. Central to any discussion on media convergence is the term digital media itself, because it provides the context and example through which media convergence occurs. In general, media convergence falls into four general categories that will be covered in this bibliography: Introductory Works, Business Enterprise Convergence, Technology and Economic Performance, and Culture and Social Commentary.

Introductory Works

There are several introductory textbooks (and surveys) that provide a well-informed overview of mass communication, with material pertaining to digital media and convergence. The following sources are among the best-known media and telecommunications introductory works. Each provides a broad and accessible overview of digital media and the role of convergence in transforming today’s media industries. Given the purpose and design of the said works, they tend to cover the full range of topical areas, including Business Enterprise Convergence, Technology and Economic Performance, and Culture and Social Commentary. Pavlick and McIntosh 2011, Turow 2011, and Vivian 2011 look at all areas of print and electronic media. Alternatively, Gross 2010 tends to focus more on electronic media and telecommunications.

  • Dennis, E. E., and M. L. DeFleur. 2010. Understanding media in the digital age. MyCommunicationKit Series. New York: Allyn and Bacon.

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    This book is about understanding the convergence patterns between different media. The authors use the term connections to describe the central goal of the book. As a concept, connections explains both the theory and practice of digital media, whether that includes everything from traditional media to social networking. Chapter 2, in particular, looks at the rise of digital and global media.

  • Gross, L. S. 2010. Electronic media: An introduction. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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    Previously titled Telecommunications: An Introduction to the Electronic Media. Changed to more accurately reflect ongoing changes in the media technology. Takes into account the growing importance of the Internet, the advent of portable devices, the conversion to digital TV, the effects of digital video recorders (DVRs), the expansion of the telephone industry, the development of satellite radio, the move toward digital cinema, and the implications of digital technologies for worldwide communication.

  • Pavlik, J. and S. McIntosh. 2011. Converging media: A new introduction to mass communication. 2d ed. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    This book takes a holistic approach to the study of mass communication by exploring the combination of factors (i.e., business enterprise, technology, and culture) and how they affect today’s media environment. The authors emphasize the interdependent and dynamic relationship between new media and traditional media formats. The underlying themes of ethics and global perspective run throughout this book.

  • Turow, J. 2011. Media today: An introduction to mass communication. 3d ed. New York: Routledge.

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    This book provides a useful understanding of the business, economics, and emerging technology trends within the US media sector. Its institutional focus examines the full range of business-technology forces that guide the creation, distribution, and exhibition of media systems. Emphasizes the centrality of digital convergence.

  • Vivian, J. 2011. The media of mass communication. 10th ed. New York: Allyn and Bacon.

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    This book takes a comprehensive look at the role of mass communication in everyday life. Gives full measure to a range of topics, including, media economics, technology, culture, effects, and the growing importance of digital media.

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