Friday, May 15, 2009

I AM the Future of Journalism & Mass Communication Education

I AM the Future of Journalism and Mass Communication Education!

How is that for a statement of vanity?

As a journalism professor of six years who has been awarded tenure and promotion for the Fall 2009 semester, I am proud to associate myself with a line of work that is changing ever so rapidly.

I position myself as a example not because I'm the greatest teacher.

Instead, I say I’m the future of journalism because of my willingness to embrace the multimedia shift that has already happened in the nation’s newsrooms.

I say I’m the future of journalism because of my commitment to re-invent myself from a “word” person not concerned about technical production to a teacher who is increasingly (but not totally) comfortable teaching about production.

I understand that teaching in a constantly evolving field means one rarely gets "comfortable" before something changes or shifts. Then, there's a need to learn something new.

A blogger and a podcaster with my own YouTube channel, I taught such a production course this spring (2009) semester.

Digital Media production was the most challenging topic I’ve ever taught—because it took me out of my comfort zone. But, my fabulous students made it a blast!

Our site, Dateline Alabama, is alive and well. I even learned a lot about posting through a Content management system, powered by The Tuscaloosa News.

I had to rely on the tech people to teach me even as I taught my students. There were very few lectures from a Ph.D. who had all the answers.

As the future of journalism education, I know the expert professor (at least in this field) may find him or herself quickly becoming a relic of the past.

I say I’m the future of mass communication education because in 2009 I can see media management education as a kind of entrepreneurial media education.

I say I’m the future of mass communication education I’m capable and empowered to interact just as much with Ph.D. students as they prepare dissertations as I can middle and high school students being exposed to journalism for the first time.


As the author of the The Black Blogger’s Manifesto, I say I’m the future of mass communication education because of my active engagement online not only as a blogger, but also an African-American blogger who gives voice to a view that may not otherwise be shared in the blogosphere.

With a multicultural mindset and an understanding of both the profession of journalism and the academic study of mass communication, I realize my role now is to mentor others by sharing my experience with a new generation of student scholars already preparing themselves for roles in the college classroom.

These will be the journalism and mass communication educators who will follow me when I decide to move on from the classroom.

I, along with the dozens of my JMC colleagues who share my views about multimedia, multiculturalism and entrepreneurial media, am positioned for a media world filled with uncertainty.

As the media industries find their way in this new digital world, we will find ourselves flexible and ready for whatever twist or turn comes as we prepare forward-thinking mass media practitioners.

Spelling out the Future of J.O.U.R.N.A.L.I.S.M

If those of us who teach journalism and mass communication are to not only survive but also thrive in our role as educators, we have to be fully-committed to the future of the journalism profession.


You can click here to read more about WHY I think I am the future of Journalism and Mass Communication Education.


The discussion about the future of newspapers and journalism is one way we can have a forward-looking view of what we do. This video summarizes some of the major points that should guide our thinking about newspapers, journalism and ethics.

I know I’ll survive and thrive because I know 10 THINGS about the future of the J.O.U.R.N.A.L.I.S.M. profession.

First and foremost, the journalism of the future must continue to be
Justice-Seeking. The cliché to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted remains are relevant to what we do today as it has been in the age of dominant competing daily newspapers, three network-affiliated TV stations and large local radio newsteams. Our commitment to make a difference will be stronger than ever.

Originality is and will continue to be our mantra. We want to first on the Web just like we were first on print. The bottomline of breaking news doesn’t go away because the medium in which we are reporting might change. Journalism of the future must be different from the information that one might get elsewhere

Unrelenting is a trait that the journalists of the future must have. The competition will still be there just like the sources who don’t want to tell us the full story. Our commitment to leave no stone unturned will be just as strong in the future as it has been in the past.

Relevant is something we must be in the age of constantly fragmenting audiences. If we don’t deliver the news and information that will help our readers, viewers and online users live their lives, we will quickly become extinct. Journalism won’t be extinct, in part, because it will continue to be relevant.

Nuance is the name of the game. Digital tools allow almost anyone to cover an event or post a story. What the journalism of the future will have to do is find those subtleties and interesting twists that only a trained reporter with a skeptical (not cynical) vantagepoint can uncover.

Accessibility will be even more important than ever for those who are reading and viewing our product. That means good writing will be a critical factor in the journalism of future. The way we present our prose will make all the difference in the experience of our audience.

Layered will just be logical in the Web-driven, hyperlink world of digital journalism. A story, headline, web summary or related element all will be a click away. Therefore, the journalist much structure his or her story so that it's able to be experienced in multiple layers.

Interactivity is an assumption in the future of journalism where layering is a reality. One must interact with the news to find the layers that lie beneath. A story won’t be a story unless it requires the reader to do something.

Strategic is what we as journalists have to be in the way we conceptualize our product, tell stories and market our information. The dual product market of content for audiences plus audiences for advertisers will remain at the center of our work as journalism and mass communication educators in the future.

Multicultural will describe the nature of our audiences who will no longer be predominantly white in the journalism of the future. Thus, journalists (and those educating them) will have to use whatever means necessary to appeal to and attract their racially diverse group of potential news consumers.


Beyond spelling out the future of the profession, we can also think about what journalism and mass communication will look like. The following slideshow gives an aural and visual view of the future of journalism: