Spring 2008


The era of “bigger, better, more” has not left the media untouched. In addition to the obvious relationship between audience size and the budgetary bottom line, new media outlets are presenting a significant challenge to traditional media. In the age of the internet, the competition for audience has increased with traditional media experiencing significant downturns in audience share.
The result has been a repackaging of news with the hopes that this audience erosion can be halted. There has been a greater emphasis on entertainment news and celebrities. It is hard to avoid finding out about the latest antics of Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan or the comings and goings of JLO and Brangelina.
At the same time the number of websites and blogs devoted to the doings of the glitterati have proliferated. Even mainline news sources such as the New York Times have attempted to make their newspaper more “user friendly” and less intimidating to readers. Check out Jeff Lewis’s story on media facelifts for additional anecdotes on the changing face of the media.
As Jackson Hayes highlights in his article, critics also point to a growing tendency of the media to focus on pending disasters. Think global warming, imminent terrorist attacks and the ever present avian flu pandemic. It is apparent that as the competition for audience heats up, the focus on the sensational increases. Far less time is spent taking an in-depth look at issues.
It can be argued that this approach is starting to damage the credibility of the media. By tempting viewers, readers and visitors with more star gossip and concentrating more on fear mongering, the media is abdicating its traditional role of public guardian.
It could also be argued that this is being counter-balanced by the rise of the citizen journalist that has been fostered by the internet. User generated content such as that found on CBC’s The Current could prove to be more compelling to an increasingly jaded and cynical public.
While the adage “if it bleeds, it leads” has long been a phrase used to describe news judgment, it can be argued that the media have gone too far down the road of sensationalism. In the long run this could have a dire effect on their ability to draw an audience and to maintain both credibility and any claim to objectivity.
This issue of Convergence will examine this and other media-related issues ranging from green-washing to a sobering look at the U.S. mortgage crisis by James Sturgeon, and much more. Enjoy!

William Hanna, Dean
School of Media Studies and
Information Technology






Special to CONVERGENCE online

The new trend in Marketing

This was a no brainer. Make a couple of short phone calls to folks whose job it is to sell ideas – and products – and get their take on why it’s suddenly cool to be old.

Diane Keaton is cool. She’s on the tube shilling Age Perfect skin care cosmetics for L'Oréal. Andie MacDowell is cool. She’s also in the getting-old-without-wrinkles cosmetics shill.  William Shatner is – god help us – cool. And out there selling All-Bran – presumably to constipated baby boomers. Dove got a bunch of no-name boomer women to promote Pro-Age face, skin and hair products. That was cool. Grey Power is busy selling home and auto insurance to those over 50 – that’s not cool. But who wants a cool insurance company anyway?



Redefining the Job
Cam Woolley: The Media’s Go-to Guy
Intelligent Design
Attack of the Media Monster
Sub Par, Sub-prime Coverage
Crunching the Numbers
Can You Keep a Secret?

Alan Johnston
Student Faces Death
Ken Peters Vindicated

.STORIES//Spring '08

Down the Rabbit Hole
Green is the New Gold
Shock Value

Investigating the Exaflood
Dungeons, Dragons & Homework
The Lifeblood of a Small Town
Breaking the Waves

Obituaries – George Gross, Milt Dunnell
Column – Inside the ‘Manhouse’

Media Studies Portfolio

A brief collection of notable works from the students of
Humber’s School of Media Studies and Information Technology.

For Portfolio Credits click here