Happy anniversary, ConvergenceRI

Digital news platform celebrates its seventh year of publication

Photo by Richard Asinof

The fall harvest of pumpkins at Four Town Farm serves as an apt metaphor to celebrate the beginning of ConvergenceRI's seventh year of publication.

By Richard Asinof
Posted 9/23/19
ConvergenceRI enters its seventh year of publication, with a growing market penetration in Rhode Island.
What is the breakdown of demographics of how Rhode Islanders get their news, and which news sources they trust? When will pollsters working for Rhode Island news media put more of a focus on women’s issues around health care as a major focus of what potential voters care about? When will the next generation of politicians and community activists be recognized by political talk shows?
The most wonderful part of ConvergenceRI is the continual process of learning and listening that comes with the job, to become more adept at what Doug Eby called the skill of learning to listen in 10 different ways.

PROVIDENCE – As ConvergenceRI enters its seventh year of publication, there is much to celebrate in the growth of its digital news platform in the Rhode Island marketplace, covering the convergence of health, science, innovation, technology, research and community since its launch on Sept. 23, 2013.

First, there is the continuing market penetration: in the last three months, July, August and September, ConvergenceRI has drawn an average of nearly 3,000 page views per week, or roughly 12,000 per month.

Second, the average reading time for feature stories is about 7 minutes per story, a phenomenal number for a digital news platform that features in-depth, accurate reporting and analysis.

Third, the attrition rate of subscribers still remains remarkably low – less than 8 percent over six years of publishing.

Fourth, there is a continued recognition of the importance played by ConvergenceRI and its ability to provide news content that is not available anywhere else in the Rhode Island market.

Fifth, the value proposition keeps being proven again and again – that readers and subscribers value the insightful, accurate reporting that breaks down the artificial news silos attached to so much of our current news coverage.

Sixth, ConvergenceRI continues to facilitate the convergence of groups, activities, initiatives and projects, from the potential collaboration between the Mindfulness Center at Brown and Healthcentric Advisors to the potential creation of a “bridge” to honor the legacy of descendants of slavery adjacent to the new pedestrian bridge over the Providence River, in cooperation with the Toni Morrison Society.

Fighting through the dominant narrative
For sure, there are those that have allowed themselves to become “prisoners” of the traditional news coverage who, even after six years, may not have heard of ConvergenceRI, including a Boston Globe editor responsible for Rhode Island’s digital news content. Legislators are paying attention, policy makers are paying attention, and the decision makers are paying attention.

It is not about how many clicks, per se, you can create, by manipulating outrage and mayhem, but rather putting the focus on who is doing the clicking – the policy makers, the business leaders, the small, early stage companies as well as the commercial stage firms, the law firms and financial firms, the community agencies and statewide agencies, the community foundations, the hospital systems and insurance firms, all of whom value the quality of the content as well as the ability to ask good questions. For them, ConvergenceRI has become an essential source of news and analysis.

Challenges ahead

There are numerous challenges and questions to report on in the coming months:

The health care delivery system in the state continues to attempt to sort out its future, with efforts underway to create a 10-year state plan for health delivery, during a time when the current business model for hospitals may no longer be viable.

The success of the health equity zone initiative in Rhode Island has reshaped the dimensions about the role of the community is playing in developing solutions to health disparities, changing the equation around investments.

The efforts to build an innovation ecosystem to become the economic driver of future prosperity in Rhode Island seeks to redefine the role of innovation, but it remains unclear where and when the intersection of top-down and bottom-up innovation will occur.

The continuing negative impact of UHIP on the infrastructure of skilled nursing facilities in Rhode Island, and the demographic challenges of a growing “old old” population, may require new kinds of investments in providing services to the state’s must vulnerable residents.

How will Rhode Island seek to redefine its “perverse” relationship with the fossil fuel industry in order to protect its natural resources and its quality of life?

What will be the response to the clarion call by new R.I. EOHHS Secretary Womazetta Jones for the state to become more comfortable with uncomfortable conversations around racial equity?

How will Rhode Island’s traditional medical establishment respond to the changing role of nurses in the delivery of care? A recent column published by the Rhode Island Medical Society Journal was not auspicious, labeling nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants as “physician extenders.” Stay tuned.

There are a number of important research stories that will emerge in the coming months, which will champion the high quality of research being performed at the cutting-edge of science here in Rhode Island. Stay tuned.

A living, learning experience
A recent three-week, unplanned “immersion” course in health care delivery, following successful surgery to repair C3, C4, C5, and C6 in my neck, and then more than a week spent in rehabilitation, offered what many might call an “undercover” reporting opportunity to talk about how health care is delivered, first hand, from the patient’s perspective.

The two questions every provider – from CNA to nurse to doctor to social worker – asked at the beginning of every engagement with this patient were: Can you describe your pain on a scale of 0 to 10; and can you describe your bowel movements? I wonder how a Freudian analyst would look at those questions and the ways that they define the unconscious priorities of the medical system.

The dependence on measuring pain as part of a wellness scale is the undertow of the deadly opioid addiction crisis – and the diseases of despair, alcohol, suicide and drugs – that somehow doesn’t get discussed.

Listening to the patient

The other fascinating part of the experience was how difficult it was for the patient’s voice to be heard by some providers: the insistence by one occupational therapist that I use a neck brace that turned out to be four sizes too small, despite my protestations – it was sized for a medium female neck, and the refusal to allow me to take it off because it was causing great pain and discomfort.

Most importantly, thank you
Thank you to all of the subscribers, supporters, and readers to ConvergenceRI during the past six years.


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