School of Journalism Marketing and Stuff

Back last Fall, when news came that the Medill School of Journalism was thinking about changing its name (and in fact had already dropped “of Journalism” from its website index page), I wrote a post saying, basically, that this was wrong as well as dumb. In fact, I thought it was so wrong, and so lacking in support, that it would die on the vine.

Well, apparently not. Eric Zorn reports in the Chicago Tribune that the idea is not only alive, but wrong as ever. Names “reportedly under consideration” (by a secretive committee) include “The Medill School of —

  • Journalism
  • Journalism and Integrated Marketing Communications
  • Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications
  • News Media and Integrated Marketing Communications
  • Audience and Consumer Information
  • Media Arts and Sciences
  • Information and Influence

In The Future of News, Steve Boriss writes,

  More than most, I am sympathetic to scrapping the word “journalism,” which has come to be associated with a failing model that only its practitioners still believe delivers objective, verified truths. But do we really want to combine news gathering with sales and entertainment disciplines like marketing, media, and persuasion? And, isn’t the public tired of journalism insisting it is providing pure “information,” and in fact showing increased interest in a more helpful and stimulating combination of fact and opinion?
  The right answer must be too simple for j-school eggheads — the “Medill School of News.” By news, I mean “new information about a subject of common interest that is shared within a community.” Everything from as small as news of family and friends, which is now being served by Facebook and MySpace, to as large as news of our universe. Not just news of government, but also news of the private sector, our neighborhoods, our vocations, and our avocations. The public no longer believes in “journalism.” But renaming it “news” is a change they can believe in.

I almost like “School of News”. And I agree that it’s wacky to combine news (or journalism, or both) with “entertainment disciplines” (though I wouldn’t cal them that. I even agree that “the public no longer believes…” but I’m not sure it’s journalism that they doubt.

As it happens I’m sitting in the Annenberg School for Communication, where Media Re:public is about to begin. On the wall of the vast lobby are six big flat-screen TVs, four in the middle with news channels, one on the right with ESPN and one on the left with CNN. Sound comes from the last two. Nobody is watching. Yet at our table we can’t ignore the CNN one, which is blabbing behind our heads, which are turned away. For most of the last hour CNN has been obsessing on the murder of a Rutgers student in front of her toddler son. I’ve heard “stabbed multiple times” so many times that my inner Mona Shaw wants to take a hammer to the screen. I can’t find the story on the index page, but maybe I’m not looking hard enough. In any case, I’m sure that what they’re pushing out the tube is news yet not journalism.

And I think I’d rather have Medill teach the latter. No matter what they call the place.

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