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Should AEJMC Newspaper Division Change Its Name?

A couple of years ago the Civic Journalism Interest Group in the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) changed its name to the Civic and Citizen Journalism Interest Group.  Now Susan Keith, 2007-2008 AEJMC Newspaper Division head, is asking if the Newspaper Division should change its name. She has started a very lively discussion on the division’s listserv. Here is what she is thinking:

1. “Newspaper” no longer accurately describes the full range of products that traditional print journalism outlets are producing.

2. “Newspaper” no longer accurately describes the full range of journalistic work that our division members study. At the Chicago convention, we will hear research presentations on newspaper online interactivity, copy editors’ roles in the “digital revolution,” online citizen journalism and reporters’
blogs.

3. Giving the division a name that accurately reflects the breadth of our interests might help us stem a decline in membership. Although the Newspaper Division remains the largest in AEJMC (by just 20 members), membership has fallen 13.3 percent since 2004, from 684 to 593. It’s impossible to say for sure what caused the decline, but it’s possible that some AEJMC members are not joining our division or renewing membership in it because they think all we are concerned with is what some view as a dying medium. (I don’t share that view, but it is out there.)

4. Giving the division a name that accurately reflects the breadth of our interests might help us stem a decline over the past few years in paper submissions. Again, it’s impossible to say for sure why our submissions have been down, but it may be that scholars studying such topics as online news sites, for example, have perceived our division as being focused only on news printed on paper.

5. Expanding our division’s name to something like “Newspaper and Online Journalism Division” or “Newspaper and Newer Media Division” — or some better name members suggest — would let us offer a division home to the scholars who study online and newer media journalism. Some of those people are now affiliated with AEJMC’s Communication Technology Division. But foroth ers, whose work is focused more on *journalism* than *technology,* that division may not seem like the perfect fit.

6. Expanding our division’s name might help us better weather any internal reorganization that grows out of adopting the AEJMC Strategic Plan, which members will be asked to vote on in Chicago. (You can read more about it, from my perspective, here.

One idea that seems popular is the name “News Media” Division. Well, I guess that works if you want to be ALL encompassing.

I will watch the discussion and post some responses to her proposal in the next couple of days. Here is one from Buck Ryan, School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky:

On a good day in 1690 you could read a newspaper, Publick Occurrences: Both Forreign and Domestick, and this morning my newspaper, the Lexington Herald-Leader, was on my doorstep at 6 a.m.

Having attended a World Association of Newspapers convention and having purchased newspapers at newsstands in South America, Europe and Asia, I think the death of “newspaper” has been greatly exaggerated.

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