Eight Expectations for AEJMC 2011

Thousands of journalism professors and those teaching public relations and advertising will be converging on St. Louis this week for the AEJMC Annual Conference. We have at least EIGHT THINGS we expect to see at this year’s conference.

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We’re on the eve of the biggest gathering of the year for those who teach or do research in areas of journalism and mass communication.

As the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Annual Conference begins this week in St. Louis,  we thought we’d share our top EIGHT list of things we’re looking for over the next 5-6 days.

1. Lots of Talk about Social Media
Twitter and Facebook have been the subject of more and more research papers each year at AEJMC.   Last year in Denver, I saw at least a dozen titles just on Twitter.   We saw a few on the Chicago Convention two years ago.  I expect to see more and more research on social media and I’m looking for teaching tips to bring home.

2. Strategies for Combating the Mythology about the End of Journalism

We constantly hear about the demise of newspapers and the public’s assumption that means the demise of journalism.  Those of us at this conference know that’s not true.  But, our students are not always as savvy.   They believe the hype and we as journalism professors are now evangelists for a line of work going through unbelievable change.

What are our best strategies? Should I stop bringing my arm of newspapers to class and just carry the iPad so students will stop thinking about journalism as a PRINT profession?

3. Pre-Centennial Premonitions

The logo for the 100th AEJMC Convention has already been released.  A history of the association is in the works.  We know we’ll be back in the birthplace of the association.   I believe there will be even more talk of what it means to be 100 years ago and how that should impact our program next year.

For those of us who also are members of the International Communication Association (ICA), we will be back at the same hotel was ICA just three years ago.

4. Update on Hiring J-School Graduates

Just a week after DIVERSE Issues in Higher Education released its analysis of minority student graduates in journalism and communication, the Annual Surveys of Journalism and Mass Communication Enrollments and Graduates will be unveiled.

Looking forward to seeing the latest numbers (And reuniting with my colleagues in the Cox Center at University of Georgia, where I worked as a graduate research assistant a few years ago)

5. Word on What Happens as AEJMC Journals Go Corporate

We knew it had to happen eventually.  The flagship journal in our field– Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly and its sister publications, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator and Journalism & Mass Communication Monographs will now be published by Sage Publications starting next January.

This will be a blessing and a curse.   Turning our journals over to a corporate entity that is the fifth largest journal publisher, much like many of our smaller divisional journals already are , will come with some level of adjustment for AEJMC members.  Will we be restricted to the number of copies of manuscripts we can share?   What kind of restrictions will be placed on authors now?  I’m still wondering about all of this.

6.  Fewer People Paging Through Printed Programs

As much as I like the old AEJMC Convention (that’s what it used to be called up until last year) Program booklet,  this year marks the debut of the AEJMC Conference APP.    I will be doing a comparison between the APP And the old-fashioned highlighted program booklet. Which one serves me better?  We’ll see (I will post an update or two on this throughout the week)

7. Tornado Talk in a State Where Big Storms Made Headlines

OK– here’s the commercial for my “late-breaking”/late-added program.  St. Louis is home to Lambert Airport where an April tornado heavily damaged one of the concourses.    Then after our EF-4 tornado here in Tuscaloosa days later,  an EF-5 tornado brought tragedy to Joplin, Missouri May 22 in the Southwestern part of the “Show Me” State.    Todd Frankel from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and two of my Alabama colleagues along with Lee Hood from Loyola University will be joining me for what I hope will be an engaging dialogue on how we turn the recent incidents of extreme weather into dynamic teaching opportunities.

That’s Thursday afternoon at 1:30 p.m.

8. J-School Professors Showing Off iPads

And last but certainly not least, I know I will see more of our journalism colleagues tapping away on touch screens.   Most of them did it last year in Denver on their iPhones.  But last year, the iPad had only been out a few months.  Now with iPad2, I know a lot more faculty are using these gadgets.   But, the question is WHY?  For themselves or their students?

Full disclosure: I convinced my department chair to buy an iPad2 for me to use to teach students producing for the tablet PC in the fall.   We’ll be demonstrating new APPS for news writing and reporting every class period.  That’s a definite plan that I’m fine-tuning.

But, I still think there’ s a show-off factor to the iPad.

We’re packing the camcorder and still camera to chronicle our experience at this year’s conference.   Stay tuned!

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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