Advice from Thailand: the universality of media convergence

A recent article on the Nation Multimedia web site featured advice on how to stay alert in an era of convergent media. The suggestions originated from a seminar on strategic journalism and the article featured quotes from Somkiat Tangkitvanich, the president of the Thailand Development Research Institute. The article focused on three areas of the media that members of the public should monitor: media content, the media’s role, and media ownership.

American news consumers are familiar with media convergence, having witnessed years of consolidation and multi-platform branching initiatives. The phenomenon is relatively newer in Thailand, where many of the main newspapers are expanding their operations to include cable TV stations.

One characteristic of convergent media touched on in the article is that media outlets are more likely to produce singular content that is then published across platforms. This refers to the practice of content being repurposed: a newspaper article may be reproduced on the newspaper’s website, or the transcript of a TV or radio news report may be printed online in article form. Somkiat cited the duplication of content across platforms as leading to a lack of variety in news coverage.

Somkiat also urged media consumers to pay attention to the ratio of content to advertising. The proportion of advertising content in relation to media or news content can be obfuscated through new practices brought about by convergence, such as advertising being presented in the form of a “tie-in” with news content.

Somkiat also pointed out that because advertising is a major source of revenue for media outlets, the influence of advertisers may affect how the media presents news stories.

The advice to the public to be aware of the media’s role refers to the role of media in normal circumstances, as well as in specific events and crisis situations. Somkiat advised that media consumers pay attention to the role that media organizations play in events, and criticize media outlets if they decide the role being played is not appropriate to the situation.

This advice from Thailand is totally pertinent to American media students as the characteristics of media convergence are universal.

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