[AEJMC Newspaper Division list] New name for Newspaper Division?
JOHN B ZIBLUK
JZIBLUK at astate.edu
Thu Jul 17 14:00:08 CDT 2008
First off, I am pleased we are beginning to use the news-list as a forum to exchange ideas. In this world of changing media, efforts to build and maintain communities may well be a key to success in any of our efforts within and without the AEJMC newspaper division.
so let's keep using such fora to exchange ideas and insights.
Anyway, on the name change, I believe we really have to look at this strategically. Let's ask what our goals are as a division and let's see how a name change fits into those goals. If we change the name, it shouldn't be cosmetic. we should back up any change with a real change in substance and approach. If we expect to do the same things, there is no reason to change the name.
However, I think this discussion presents an opportunity to discuss the identity and focus of the whole division. And I think that discussion, whatever the outcome, is a healthy endeavor.
In her Leadtime piece, Susan notes that a name change would denote sensitivity to the realities of the media marketplace. She also implies that in an increasingly competitive and fragmenting field of journalism education that the Newspaper Division may be less attractive to new scholars than more specialized interest groups such as religion, sports or entertainment.
I won't imply it, I will say it: the term "newspaper" may carry the connotation of inflexibility and, perhaps, failure to succeed in the modern media world. I hear that sentiment from students all the time. And I am concerned that scholarship is moving away from news-related issues as well. As a former small programs interest group head, I know that religion is the single biggest AEJMC inerest group. And it's growing. While that may not be a direct threat to the newspaper division, I think it is an example of the increasing specialization and atomization of our field. And I do believe fewer people are working on news-related scholarship all the time. It worries me.
But Wally (great to see a fellow Bowling Green veteran is still at it) and others point out, rightly, that there are core industries and core values we need to honor as part of our whole raison d'etre.
When I was on the executive committee of the National Press Photographers Association recently, we faced very similar issues. We considered changing the name of the organization to something like the Visual Journalism Association. On the one hand, we needed to demonstrate an openness to change, but on the other we wanted to respect our history and our core functions and values. Ultimately, we rejected the move to change the name because we decided the established identity and "brand" was respected; and changing it would convey a rejection of the organization's identity.
In this case, I think the issues are similar and the strategic goals are similar. We want to convey openness and an understanding of the media world, and, let's be honest, attract and retain members. I think this is a truly viable and important issue. A scan of the AEJMC program shows a great deal of interest in technology, race, gender and diversity issues, international issues, new media issues, entertainment issues and others. But I sense (and yes, there's probably a fairly easy-to-do study here) that there's less interest in newspaper and "news" issues all the time within communications scholarship.
Therefore, I think there is a strategic benefit to re-position ourselves with a name change. We can focus on news, whether it's on-line or in print. Randy makes the point that other divisions do news-related scholarship, so calling us the news division would dilute our mission. That is a valid point.
But I think a greater concern is the loss of focus on real news and its very important place in scholarship and in society. I think much of our scholarship is getting too esoteric and atomized. If we call ourselves the news division, it would reflect an effort by serious journalism scholars to reclaim the field for serious scholarly work on news organizations, products, processes, functions and practices whether they appear on-line or in print.
So let's not just change the name in an effort to be reactive, let's do it to be pro-active. Let's do it to represent an effort to reclaim scholarship for things that matter: free speech, news and information. If journalism educators don't do it, nobody else will.
OK, I will get off my soapbox now.
John B. (Jack) Zibluk, Ph.D.
Arkansas State University
Department of Journalism
P.O. Box 1930
State University, AR 72467
From: news-list-bounces at aejmc.net on behalf of Barry Hollander
Sent: Thu 7/17/2008 12:25 PM
To: news-list at aejmc.net
Subject: Re: [AEJMC Newspaper Division list] New name for Newspaper Division?
Newspaper Division is a well-loved but outdated name.
Even newspapers today strive to recast themselves
as something more than the name implies. Sticking
"online" with "newspaper" strikes me not only as
sounding 1990s-ish, but it doesn't solve the problem.
Focus instead on the act and call it the Journalism Division.
The digital versions of newspapers today are doing the
best multimedia work out there, but it remains journalism
regardless of medium: print, online, or as my friend
Prof. Eberhard well remembers, chiseling words onto
Journalism Research Journal, though, is a terrible title,
so maybe my idea isn't all that great.
If the division is anything like a university, we'll form a
committee, study this for 10 years, and then write a report.
Grady College of Journalism
and Mass Communication
University of Georgia
barry at uga.edu
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