Convergence and the Shifting of Media Identity

CC image courtesy of T. Faltings on Flickr

CC image courtesy of T. Faltings on Flickr

As convergence has become more and more present in our media world, the producers of media have to work to redefine their roles as media creators, their media industries, their audiences, and their content. Brooke Erin Duffy‘s Remake, Remodel: Women’s Magazines in the Digital Age examines women’s magazines in this context of the transformation of traditional media in this new digital era. In investigating the idea of convergence, she presents the two major movements of convergence:

“The coming together of the components of print, electronic, and digital media on a singular device and the blurring of boundaries between media producers and consumers… convergence implies the decline–or at least the fragility–of traditional structures of information and communication” (Duffy 3).

The more traditional forms of media like print magazines or newspapers are becoming more digitized and are now often seen in digital form on devices like tablets, smart phones, or computers. People seem to still be reading magazines; they are just doing it more online than in their physical print form. The traditional media forms seem to be overwhelmed by their new digital competition. Another affordance of convergence culture is that participatory culture is now more common since online readers can instantly comment on or share an article over social media. Whereas in traditional print media, readers would have to mail physical letters if they wanted to interact with the media producers and they would need to physically share an article with peers in order to have someone to talk about it with, now, we live in a world where everything is online and instant.

CC image courtesy of FontShop on Flickr

CC image courtesy of FontShop on Flickr

Not only does the rise in participatory culture create a dialogue between producers and consumers, it also allows the once-consumers to become producers in their own right. Media sharing platforms such as blogs and YouTube allow the average person to have an online, widespread voice and presence that they wouldn’t have been able to have in an all-print world. YouTube celebrities, popular bloggers, and the like, create competition for the more traditional digital platforms like online magazines or newspapers. Now that everyone can have their own blog, there is an incredibly vast amount of blogs and other sites to compete with. Consumers have a large amount of choice in where they choose to get their news and other information. Since “half of American’s online is devoted to social networking, playing games, and emailing,” (Duffy 40) the magazines and newspapers also have to compete with these sites, not just other news-oriented ones (Duffy 2).

During class last week, we briefly talked about what constitutes a “TV show” and if the show needs to have actually aired on TV to be considered one. I think we came to the indefinite conclusion that either the term will stick around even for shows that never appear on television or a new term may be adopted. Duffy brings up this issue in her book in regard to all forms of digitized media:

“Recent transformations in the technologies, economies, and markets of mass communication raise fundamental questions about the identities of different media. If a medium–be it television, newspaper, magazine, or radio–is abruptly hewn from its technological form (i.e. a screen, printed page, or radio tuner), then what identifies it as such?” (Duffy 2).

I think that this debate for digitized media will continue for a while until some sort of solid conclusion emerges. As everything transitions into the digital sphere, the definitions of these different types or media and what constitutes them will also be in a state of transition.

CC image courtesy of Wikipedia

CC image courtesy of Wikipedia

One last observation I would like to bring up is that I think we will see more magazine websites becoming more like the “news” source of BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed’s simplified blog-type multimedia posts, made digestible to the average reader oftentimes through the inclusion of a list or a video, seem to becoming more popular. We already see a lot of magazine sites doing slide shows of image of the “Best Dressed Stars at the 2014 Oscars” or the “10 Beauty Splurges That Are Totally Worth It,” and also in the sharing of information through videos. Although BuzzFeed also includes things like actual written pieces of interviews with different celebrities, these are far less common for them and probably are not read as much as the lists. The incremental listing of things with more images than words is becoming more popular as people’s attention spans become more suited to the quick blurbs of social media sites instead of a full newspaper article.


Duffy, Brooke Erin. Remake, Remodel: Women’s Magazines in the Digital Age. Chicago: University of Illinois, 2013.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: