Convergence deathwatch!

We hardly consider typical newspaper business sections “journalism,” given their rampant ideological filtering (even if you approve of the ideology, an ideology it remains nonetheless) and irksome habit of uncritically transcribing ghostwritten CEO pronouncements.

Seasoned NUblog readers will have wondered why we have spared the bugbear of convergence our typical ritual garroting of late. (Not a case of rampant ideological filtering, shurely?! – Ed.) Apart from paresse, we note that convergence apologists have become chastened due to a certain decline in Internet “valuation” – a word, we note, critically missing an initial E.

One further notes a creeping realization that convergence doesn’t work and nobody wants it.

Get it while it’s hot (and while the link works): Even the Globe and Mail, viewed as unfeasibly right-wing until the Daily Tubby Daily Izzy came along, has taken to heaping sphagnum on the Venus’ flytrap.

Is CanWest even a potential convergence player, in the AOL-Time Warner sense of the word? To date, its efforts have focused on cost-cutting and cross-promotion of its media properties. Staff have been reduced, including more than 130 employees from the National Post.... But if AOL-Time Warner is the convergence model, then CanWest is missing the necessary delivery system. There’s no means to bundle the company’s media offerings, because there is no other conduit to sell them.

Quebecor Inc.’s $5.4-billion acquisition last year of Groupe Vidéotron Ltée gave the Montreal multimedia company a long list of convergence tools, including a cable network, a string of television stations and a newspaper chain. But like CanWest, Quebecor is under intense pressure to slash costs to trim its $7.3 billion debt. The company has dramatically reduced its online presence, trimmed Vidéotron services and pared down staffing levels across the Sun newspaper chain. A long list of senior managers have left the company over the past year, raising questions about strategy.

In not-atypical cut-the-crap fashion, we tended to describe convergence by another name: Megalomania. Hubris invites retribution, and when the only currency of value is currency itself, retribution tends to hit you in the pocketbook, not that we can readily imagine Izzy Asper, Pierre-Karl Péladeau, or indeed Steve Case wielding a pocketbook.

Posted on 2001-10-15