Convergence evolves newsgathering methods preventing the spread of COVID-19

Local journalists across Wisconsin utilized convergence to develop ways to report from home preventing the spread of COVID-19 beginning in March.

Media outlets reporting from the Wisconsin State Capitol, Lambeau Field and the Lake Michigan shoreline rapidly improve newsgathering methods through social media when writing stories. Multimedia journalists distribute the weight on the frontline providing footage to anchors, website portals seek viewers to share found footage, while newspaper senior editors require photojournalists to mix and produce found footage. Convergence with viewers happens when newspaper and television mediums accompany their stories with blogs, websites and social media outlets during breaking news.

     “We’ve pretty much gone the direction of multimedia journalism. Multimedia journalists basically shoot and write and edit their own stuff,” said Ryan Logenstein assistant manager of WMTV NBC 15 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Covergence happens when breaking news connects viewers with journalists who are reporting from home trying to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Over Logenstein’s 22 years in television, he is witnessing a rapid change in the reporting field. Logenstein observed viewership utilizing social media to deliver leads with both citizen and multimedia journalists. During stay-at-home restrictions, Logenstein utilized multimedia journalists to create weekly stories, while a citizen journalism portal offered a bank of uploaded material from phones on the NBC 15 website.

“If you look at the NBC 15 website you will see there is a link where you can submit video. We get a lot of video from that,” Logenstein said.

Northeast Wisconsin local news source WLUK Fox 11 puts social distancing first when on the job. Assignment manager Brian Kehrin required ride sharers to take separate vehicles, which is now a standard practice. Kehrin converges press releases with viewers on social media through blogging to live stream information from the Green Bay Packers public relations who enforce the use of Zoom meetings for social distance interviewing.

“We can’t just ask for Packer players like Jake Kumerow from UW Whitewater upon request anymore. You only get who the team selects,” said Kerhin.

While 57 percent of viewers choose television as their primary news source, only 20 percent utilize newspapers. Convergence newsgathering connects both mediums interacting with viewership on the frontline. Multimedia convergence in journalism requires newspaper reporters to possess social media skills, while multimedia journalists from the television industry connects both worlds to produce, write and report stories independently.

     “For the last 15 years, all photographers hired by the Sentinel have had to be able to shoot and edit video. ‘Convergence’ is actually an old story—at least to me,” Greg Borowski senior editor of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said.

Borowski’s newsroom has changed over the past decade. Social media reporting has taken priority, which is Borowski’s way of updating subscribers at the scene of breaking news. Journalists are tweeting text and video, offering interactive maps, charts and photo galleries for subscribers to view.

     “Convergence challenges professional journalists in many ways. I feel we are up to the challenge, provided readers rise to the occasion too,” said Borowski.

When COVID-19 breaking news hits, convergence between newspaper and television media intersects on the web. Citizens and subscribers connect with journalists who use multimedia producing skills from their home base. New methods of newsgathering have developed the newsroom through multimedia journalism benefiting all sides of the news spectrum.