[AEJMC Newspaper Division list] More divisions

Doug Fisher fisherdj at mailbox.sc.edu
Thu Aug 12 07:50:09 CDT 2010

I also agree and disagree with my friend Clyde. Certainly, we need more 
research into online-only organizations, but I don't know that another 
division or IG is the answer.

One of the things that came out of this year's meeting was yet another 
chip reduction because of the addition of more IGs and the upgrade of 
one to a division. At some point we run into the McDonald's effect - we 
run out of street corners.

Community Journalism (as well as noted earlier Comm Tech) is a good home 
for a lot of this research. COMJIG has retooled both its paper call and 
its bylaws to make clear "community" does not mean just rural or small - 
we are very much focused on online community, and since for many of 
these online-only ventures creating community is a core value, there is 
a home for such research.

Really, though, the problem is that our semantics fail us. "Newspaper" 
on one hand means a physical product. Its days are probably numbered -- 
though I think it will be many, many days before it all disappears.

But "newspaper" also embodies a concept, that of the full-service news 
organization with the editorial and financial muscle to stand up to the 
other institutional powers (OK, not always, but still ...). I have 
serious worries that at a time when government and commercial entities 
seem to be consolidating power and resources, journalism is fragmenting 
in a way that requires new ways to allow smaller newsrooms to have 
access to the legal and related firepower needed to navigate (think 
Pentagon Papers, think revelations of spy programs, think some of the 
excellent environmental reporting - all relied on organizations big 
enough to essentially say: "OK, sue us. We can go toe to toe with 
you."). We need to be thinking about and researching where that goes. No 
reason "newspaper" division isn't a good home for that.

A while back, "n'org" was all the rage, and it probably accurately 
captures a lot of the nuance of the second concept of "newspaper." But 
it's not likely to fly, for now at least.

We are prisoners of the way AEJMC itself was set up, just as the 
journalism industry is captive to many of the same things -- divisions 
demarcated by physicality surrounded by an emerging cloud of more 
flexible and conceptual-based IGs (and some divisions). So the debate 
about the group's name is not just about this group but goes to the 
entire core of how AEJMC should be partitioned.


Doug Fisher, Senior Instructor
Executive Editor, The Convergence Newsletter
Journalism and Mass Communications
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208
803-777-3315 Skype and IM: cscfisher

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