The Power of One: Convergence in Scholastic Media

Amanda Leahy
Dublin Scioto High School
Dublin, OH

Overview and Rationale
The role of today’s journalist is constantly evolving. Should our students choose the field of journalism for their own, they will need skills in a multitude of areas including writing, photography, video, sound and the web. Our journalism classrooms must begin to reflect the trend of the industry as a whole. The intent of this lesson is to bring together a school’s print and broadcast media programs to create a school news center. It is set up in five lessons of one hour each.

Goals for Understanding

Essential Questions

  • Where do consumers turn for their news?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each of the different mainstream mediums used today?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of media convergence?
  • How can news outlets best serve their audience?

Critical Engagement Questions

  • How can we adapt the professional example of convergence to our own situation?
  • Where can we look for guidance?
  • What would this convergence look like in everyday practice?
  • How would this convergence better serve our audience?
  • How would this convergence help us?

The print and broadcast teachers should meet together to coordinate and equally divide the leadership of class activities. It is important that all teachers share equal roles as co-teachers for this lesson. The teachers should also divide students ahead of time into small groups (with careful planning, these groups might be used as maestro groups later in the year). Teachers should work for as much balance as possible in each group according to medium, experience, expertise, male/female ratio, etc.

Activity 1:

  • News writing and broadcast students complete five-minute free write on which news medium (or media) they use the most in their personal lives and why.
  • As a class, students compare their media consumption habits.
  • Brainstorm the positives and negatives of each of the following professional mediums: newspapers, broadcast news, radio news, online news and blogs.
  • The teacher explains the homework assignment and quickly divides students into which broadcast news program they will watch. [Note: In schools with a radio program, the assignment could be modified to accommodate the third medium.]
  • Students watch the first 10 minutes of the local evening news and note the top stories and quick details about what is shared.
  • Students then visit the website for the news program and take note of the top stories listed there and some details that are provided in the articles.
  • Students also visit the website for the local daily paper, take note of the top stories and give some quick details about what is provided.

Activity 2:

  • Class discusses their findings from the previous evening, noting similarities and differences in coverage from each of the news outlets.
  • Small groups skim the follow-up stories in the printed daily paper. In the small groups, students evaluate the broadcast with its web complement and the local daily website with its next day print edition.
  • Class reconvenes and discusses its findings.
  • Homework: Students select a multimedia news package from a reputable news site. Students note the information provided by each piece, their reaction to and evaluation of the piece as a whole.

Activity 3:

  • Students share their stories in small groups and discuss how their understanding of the story would be different if they had received the message from only one medium.
  • Students reconvene as a class and teacher explains the term convergence and how it applies to the media strategy today.
  • Class discusses the positives and negatives of convergence.
  • Students browse the Internet, newspapers, magazines, and broadcast news stations and create quick lists of methods used to integrate multimedia content.

Activity 4:

  • In their small groups, students should use the computer to check out high school news media websites.
  • Combining the techniques seen here with those from their jot list, students should prepare their top five suggestions for integrating the content of the print and broadcast classrooms in their own school.
  • The groups should then come back together as a class and share their ideas. The class should select three to five methods to incorporate right away into their own news center.

Activity 5:
Each small group should be assigned one method. Small groups should work together at a computer to prepare a plan of action, which should include the following: resources needed, steps for implementation, each class/position’s role in the process, a timeline for implementation and a timeline for maintenance once the process is established. Students should print enough copies at the end of the period for the teachers and the newspaper and broadcast editors (in chief) to review.

Observation of small and large group discussions.
Notes from homework assignments and in-class writing activities.
Plans of action