I have a song bouncing around my head:  The Rolling Stones “Out of Time.”   After my time here at AEJMC, I’ve changed the refrain to “baby, baby, baby you’re out of TOUCH.”

My former washingtonpost.com colleague and friend Tom Kennedy captured my feelings well during his session yesterday when he suggested that both news organizations and those in academia need to abandon the print-centric focus of journalism.   A simpler version: WAKE UP!

I’ve been somewhat dismayed at the overall print-centric focus of this conference.  Many, including Dan Gillmor and Eric Newton (who were on the same panel as Kennedy), have said that academic institutions are places where innovation and experimentation can and should be happening.

That refreshing thinking has been noticeably absent in many corners of this conference.  We as educators have a tremendous opportunity at gatherings like this to set the agenda on the future of the industry.  Lamenting about the role of Twitter in news delivery isn’t the way to go.

I went to one panel entitled the “Future of Newspapers” where several editors made clear their Web and print products were separate.

I went to one session on narrative, but it was solely focused on the written form.   No mention of video or audio slideshows.

The us vs. them characterizations of bloggers and the twitterverse has dominated many discussions.

This is my first time at AEJMC, so I’m not sure what I expected. I just didn’t expect this.  But as one friend pointed out last night, AEJ has a newspaper division.

Indeed.

As I sat in on the session on the ‘future of newspapers’ there was literally a black cloud hanging over the panel.  But, it’s the wrong conversation.   It’s not about the ‘future of newpapers,’ it IS about the future of journalism.

And THAT is a tremendously positive conversation.  ASU’s Dan Gillmor said yesterday he was jealous of his students.  Damn straight.  We need more of those conversations and less of the ‘How to save the horse ‘n buggy’ conversations.

I spent many years at The Washington Post trying to persuade print-centric reporters and editors about the values of Web journalism.  It’s kind of weird to be back in that position again.   There is a tremendous opportunity for this organization to be cutting edge.  We need to shift the conversations.

Quickly.

Wake up!

Steve Fox

Multimedia Journalism Coordinator, Lecturer

UMass

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