Two key conferences that should be good stimulation for the average journalism professor

… if there is an average journalism professor anymore! 🙂

I was just reading a new peer-reviewed article in Journalism and Mass Communication Monographs (March 2013: 15) by John Pavlik and Frank Bridges about the promise of Augmented Reality for the future of Journalism. I’ll review it in more detail later, but one line caught my attention. They argue that innovation in journalism hasn’t really been happening inside the newsrooms as much as within new spaces, and they note research that creativity itself seems to require conflict to emerge. They speculate that maybe there’s something about traditional news organizations that defies innovative thinking. Funny..  I’ve theorized, after years of thinking about journalism programs, that the really exciting stuff is probably going to happen outside the j-school proper, too. But more on that later, too. 🙂

But to that end, here are two good looking conferences coming up this spring. The first is in Canada (out on the east coast) called Social Media and Society.  The second is in Texas – the International Symposium on Online Journalism.

I’m encouraging a couple of the media practitioner faculty where I work to consider attending to take the opportunity to hear new ideas about professions put forward in new ways and in communities they’re not used to circulating within. In my view, that gets some of that conflict going that stimulates new thinking. Being there gives you a chance to immerse in conversations that aren’t pitched in the same dialect, that challenge with the unfamiliar as much as they affirm.

I once heard another practitioner another discipline, who did the journey to the PhD, say that a big motivation for going through it was to finally be heard by those with PhDs…  to be taken seriously. In the same way, I’ve worked with practitioners over the decades who aren’t interested in circulating at academic conferences because they don’t see themselves reflected in that community. There’s something micro-social going on – something about belonging and language that includes or excludes.

Seems silly. Journalism scholars and journalism practice faculty share the same focus. Being at the table (or in the same room) is the only way to get the conversation going, in my view, even if the right words are hard to find.

When I worked for a university, I became familiar with the rhythms of knowledge production — the calls for papers, conference announcements, and other signs of the season. I would try to interpret conference calls, bookmark the websites and read (and re-read) the agendas and any papers. Like any new world, it becomes familiar over time.


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