What’s In a Name, Part II

About this time last year, I was attending my first AEJMC (Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication) Conference.  As I wrote last year, I was disappointed but not necessarily surprised at much of the thinking and mood surrounding the conference.

As I get ready to head out to Denver, site of this year’s conference, I’m hoping the mood and tenor will be different.  I’ve seen some positive changes in recent months, including AEJMC’s active use of social media to get information out.  AEJMC’s Mich Sineath has been fairly active on both Twitter and Facebook — a development I’m taking as a positive sign.

In recent weeks, Mich has been promoting this blog, which he developed to contain the 49 blog entries from educators across the nation tackling the subject of teaching social media in the classroom.  The authors of three blog entries were chosen to take part in a panel on the topic (one that needs much discussion) on Wednesday morning.  I’m hoping this one is well-attended.

There are a number of panels on how those in the industry and those in academia can collaborate (including my panel: Helping Save Journalism via the Classroom: Student Collaborations with Citizen Journalists and Industry Professionals, Wednesday at 5 p.m.) Mich also reports (via Twitter) that: “New pres, Jan Slater, is kickstarting regional JMC ‘Idea Summits’ between academia/industry.” Another positive development.

I’m especially looking forward to Tuesday’s Preconvention Workshop:  Journalism Schools as News Providers: Challenges and Opportunities. That’s the discussion educators need to be having.  I’m hoping that session is well-attended.

My hope is that the cloud that seemed to be hovering over many panels last year will be gone.   I believe this organization should not focus on how to save the newspaper industry or dwell on the good ‘ole days when reporters and editors had days to work on stories.  Rather, we need to teach and take advantage of the many new journalism opportunities out there and confront the many ethical issues we face in the new 24/7 environment.

Which brings us to the proposed name change for AEJMC’s Newspaper division. The proposal/discussion, originally raised a few years ago, has resurfaced.  The blog I link to here contains the current thinking, as well as links to past discussions.

As I say on the comments board:

“It’s not really about the name. It’s more about the mindset. A mindset focused on newspapers is a mindset focused on the past….The focus for this division, whatever the name, needs to be on the journalism. The delivery form has/is changing and there are many forward-thinking issues to tackle. The content and the many new ethical issues that have arisen with ‘new media’ matter and need to be at the center, not somewhere out on the margins.  That should be the focus of the ‘Newspaper-related-issues-but-not-really-focused-on-the-dying-print-newspaper-model division.'”

As I read through the history of this discussion, I’m not sure where all this is going to lead.  One thing is clear, AEJMC is a large organization and there are several mentions on the discussion board of potential turf wars with other AEJMC divisions.

Sound familar?  Well, it should.  This debate echoes much of what newspaper/media organizations have been going through for the past 15 years or so.  One person on the message board feared 10 years of discussion/study which would then generate a report.  I’m hopeful for a consensus before then.

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About journalismprof

Steve joined the journalism faculty at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in August 2007 and has been working to incorporate multimedia across the curriculum. Since arriving at UMass, Steve has developed three courses modeled after his multimedia journalism course. The courses allow students to work in teams in a newsroom-like environment where they work on packages -- using video, audio and photos to tell stories. He is also working with students on developing amherstwire.com, a news Web site staffed completely by students. Steve has more than 25 years of experience as an editor and reporter for print and online publications, including 10 as an editor at washingtonpost.com. He also edits part-time for espn.com with the NFL and college football network.
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