The Convergence of Mass Media

Convergence, referring to the coming together of various technologies and online platforms, has forever altered the landscape of connectivity. Media, a business landscape previously dominated by big business, has increasingly been handed into the hands of its consumers. The internet is quickly replacing many forms of traditional media – such as newspapers –, and big media corporations are struggling to catch up with its exponential growth.

The concept of convergence holds hope for the social responsibilities of the media industry. Consumers have more choices than ever before, meaning that they hold much more power as far as which companies or products thrive or fall flat. The users of internet-connected devices and platforms demand, and companies must respond in kind, constantly advancing technologies with new generations of devices and updated software in apps and websites. Traditional media loses its appeal as consumers look to their favorite bloggers for the latest news and lifestyle advice, constantly revising their feed of information by following different combinations of the nearly infinite contributors spread across different blogging platforms. Previously, media corporations could severely limit choice by monopolizing the few platforms available on which to receive information; now, the internet is so large and the extent of convergence so broad that information cannot be controlled.

This creates a serious problem for corporations: how can profit be made in a world of convergent, consumer-generated content? Many companies have embraced convergence, merging into mega-corporations capable both of producing and distributing content across various platforms (i.e. Time Warner). Other companies have fallen by the wayside; various newspapers have gone out of print in recent years due to falling sales and lost readership. Traditional media have to amp up their tech savvy in order to keep up with new forms of information distribution; stubbornness to stay with the original goals of journalism will only result in a failed business.

Convergence has also assisted in affording new opportunities to smaller businesses: anyone can start an app or website with very few resources and often enjoy a surprising amount of success. Mega corporations no longer own all media, and consumers are also more informed about possibly negative practices that occur within those companies, all for the sake of profit. The discovery of data mining, improper use of cookies, and spyware all warn consumers off certain websites, and with massive choices as far as information outlets, it is now extremely easy to switch to any other provider.

The process of media convergence affords unlimited opportunities to connect people across infinite platforms and technologies. However, it also hinders companies without the resources to keep up with the very latest consumer demands. Either way, convergence is certainly here to stay.


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