Five Words for AEJMC In the Coming Year

Some suggestions are made for the organizers of the AEJMC Annual Conferences in the future.

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AEJMC Members raise their hands to vote on a proposal introduced at Friday's business meeting in St. Louis

ST LOUIS– We’ve been posting from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Annual Conference (AEJMC), which ended Saturday.

So it’s time to move on from this gathering that’s arguably the biggest of the year for me as a journalism educator.

There are some topics on which I will continue to post even though the conference is over.

But, in this final update, I address some of the AEJMC organization-specific issues that may have not been reported else.  This kind of “inside baseball”  stuff is often left to those in leadership to decide.

Federico Subervi of Texas State makes a point about the proposed change in division creation rules during the AEJMC Business Meeting.

1. GROW
During Friday’s AEJMC business meeting, the topic that received the most discussion was a proposal to change the number of signatures for a new division or interest group.

After much debate, the matter was returned to the AEJMC Board of Directors for further consideration.

The issue:  AEJMC has too many units to continue to program conferences the way it does.  Raising the bar for a new division to be created might help slow the growth of units.

I think we have to look at a NEW way to offer conferences, perhaps fewer sessions for more divisions and interest groups, or a return to late evening convention sessions.   Making it more difficult to form divisions or interest groups is not the answer.

2. MODERNIZE

It was laudable that AEJMC offered its first convention app this year.  That effort to modernize must extend to the way in which the convention program is developed.   Gathering to throw poker chips into a bowl is not a forward-looking strategy.  

It’s great to hear there is talk of developing a more modern way of deciding who gets the most coveted program slots on the convention program.    Maybe the upcoming AEJMC Winter Meeting in Louisville will be the last such “chip auction.”

3. CHANGE
Change is inevitable in anything in life.  Changing from a convention during the first week of August to the second week of August worked well this year.   I know this is an artifact of the availability of hotel rates and rooms.

In the last few years, there have been more and more poster sessions at AEJMC.  Now we need to change the name back to POSTER SESSION.   The “Scholar to Scholar” label is confusing to many people.   Poster Sessions are NOT sub-par or or a dumping ground for less stellar work.   In the division where I was research chair this year, our TOP PAPER was presented as a poster.

4. PRESERVE

Even as we change some things about our organization, other practices ought to be preserved because they promote the socialization of young scholars into the field and exchange of ideas.     Some have proposed that AEJMC no longer allow midwinter papers to be submitted to the Annual Conference in August.  

This is a TERRIBLE IDEA!     Whether it’s the Southwest Symposium, which is sponsored in the fall by the Southwestern Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (SWECJMC) or the Midwinter Conference at University of Oklahoma, or the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium,  midwinter venues are ideal for first drafts of research to be shared.

Even held just a couple of weeks before the April 1st research deadline, these events help make the quality of papers submitted to the annual convention better.

Instead of eliminating them from the annual convention, we should do more to promote and encourage young and senior scholars to utilize the midwinter gatherings to move forward a research idea or gain initial feedback.

5. PREPARE

The last word that should guide AEJMC leadership in the coming year is the idea that the organization must position itself for newer, cutting edge ways of offering a conference.   There ought to be some virtual sessions using technologies such as SKYPE.

Nothing can replace the face-to-face encounters and conversations that happen when we get together.  But as we prepare for a future where key speakers from industry may not be able to come on-site or when we want to have hands-on workshops at the convention site, we should look for different conference formats besides posters, panels and plenary sessions.

While I didn’t agree with the idea of doing away with mini-plenary sessions, I understand the arguments for not having this program format.

OK– enough of the “INSIDE AEJMC” talk.

On to Chicago next year!

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.

2 thoughts on “Five Words for AEJMC In the Coming Year”

  1. Great thoughts, George. Here are two more to consider:
    a. Internet access is a necessity for many presenters and for all attendees. AEJMC should make this a part of future venue contracts.
    b. Eliminate the “standardization” of scores in the paper evaluation process. This statistical tool was applied to evaluations a few years ago to help balance the effect of reviewers who are systematically rate papers too high or too low, but the effect has been to create an evaluation system that is one degree removed from the ratings of the reviewers.

  2. Just found this blog post today in a search for something AEJMC-related. I, for one, will regret the fact that the organization has moved away from the “chip” auction meeting. It will remove much of the face-to-face interaction that helped members of the various divisions get to know one another as we collaborated with each other in scheduling our sessions. I hope I’m wrong, but I think the organization will lose something very important with this move and it will cost us more in the long run what we think we’ll be saving.

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