Daniel Reimold is a Fulbright research fellow currently in Singapore documenting the history of the Singaporean student press while serving as a visiting scholar within the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication & Information at Nanyang Technological University. He runs College Media Matters (http://www.collegemediamatters.com), a blog on modern student journalism featured within The Poynter Institute’s “Blog Network” and in the “Blog Central” portion of the Web site for College Media Advisers. Refereed research papers he has authored or co-authored have been published in Newspaper Research Journal, Journalism History, and College Media Review and accepted for presentation at numerous conferences, including the International Symposium on Online Journalism and the AEJMC national convention. He earned his doctorate in journalism/mass communication from Ohio University, where he served as a Scripps Howard Teaching Fellow. He is a two-time AEJMC Great Ideas for Teachers (GIFT) Scholar; graduate student winner of the 2007 AEJMC “Promising Professors” honor; and a recent head of the Graduate Education Interest Group (GEIG).
How do you define mass communication?
It is still, as it has always been, a conversation with the world. Yet, the one-to-many model is *so* 1990s. The new models: many-to-many or even one-to-some, with the possibility of many happening across it sometime later. The means for this communication are also changing. The Wikipedia entry for mass communication notes: “It is usually understood to relate to newspaper and magazine publishing, radio, television and film.” Judges’ ruling? Incomplete. Mass comm. can also now occur via a number of new media means, including a Facebook status update, a blog post, a Twitter tweet, a Flickr photo set, a YouTube video, a mass e-mail, and a wiki entry.
How do you keep your students excited about working in the field of communications in light of shrinking job opportunities?
By not accepting the premise of the question. Jobs in *traditional* news media are shrinking currently and the economy is certainly impacting the communications industry as a whole like most other fields. But all hope is not lost, and comm. jobs are out there. The economy will rebound. Newspapers and other print outlets won’t die but reinvent. And no matter the media of the moment, there will always be a demand for skilled people who know how to communicate with others on a mass level, be it with news, advertising or PR. The best part for students: It has never been easier to share your stories with a mass audience. New media empower students to make a difference, now, without needing to wait for an internship, a college newspaper reporting assignment, an advanced course or a starter job. Instead, they can start a blog, an online news outlet, a Web site displaying their photography or video or audio awesomeness. In this period of profound change, media jobs and outlets are not only being staffed but created. Students and young graduates are at the heart of some of the most innovative and profitable of these creations.
What changes do journalism and mass communication programs need to make in order to stay relevant today?
Incorporate the new media methods, mantras, and madness into coursework without letting them overwhelm all else. A complete program overhaul is not needed. A four-credit advanced course on Twitter also is not the answer. But do innovate, reinvent, digitize, and be willing to fail.
If you could save one journalism and mass communication course from extinction, what would it be and why?
Feature writing or any form of narrative journalism. I believe feature writing is the only thing, the ONLY thing, that will save journalism from being gobbled alive and skinned to the core by the masses of bloggers and user-generated content. Why? Because it’s *not* the type of news we’re always used to reading and because it’s *not* so obsessed with the rush of getting information out at any cost that it forgets that great reporting, great journalism, at its heart, is about the story.How do we escape life, even for a moment, especially in our e-intrusive age? How do we step out of the grind and take a second to more deeply reflect on what it all means? Feature stories, the best ones, have the power of stopping time or at least slowing it down, of releasing us from that sausage grind of a day, and making us leave our bodies, float above ourselves and consider the life we are leading and the higher order of things and the bigger picture questions of our culture, our society, our world.
What new media tools or applications do you incorporate in your teaching? Why these in particular?
Twitter, WordPress, Wordle, Google Maps, Dipity, Ning, YouTube, Flickr, Soundslides, Final Cut Pro, Dreamweaver, yada, yada, yada. In the end, the specific tools and apps don’t matter. That part of the answer will be stale in six months, one year tops anyway, as evermore new media possibilities emerge. The main new media-inspired tool I use is open-mindedness. I am willing to experiment with what’s out there, even the quirkier must-use apps of the moment, if it might help my students. Part of the fun in teaching journalism and mass communication courses in the new media age: There have never been so many tools helping us to train and motivate student journalists. There have never been so many ways to assist students in documenting the stories that are just aching to be seen and heard. Three Web sites that I use to help stay abreast of these tools: the Center for Innovation in College Media blog (http://collegemediainnovation.org/blog/), Teaching Online Journalism(http://mindymcadams.com/tojou/), and 10,000 Words (http://10000words.net/).
If you could offer a piece of advice to both your fellow educators and media professionals in the field, what would it be?
All of us need to accept what we do not know and push for training to become better acquainted with the tools and skills-sets that currently scare us or elude our understanding. We also need to recognize that new media are NOT the answer. They are simply the latest and often now the best means to an end to which journalists have always aspired: sharing stories that matter, entertain, inform, and provide a glimpse into our life and times.
What do you see for the future of journalism and mass communication both in general and in higher education?
I asked my journalism students in Singapore this question. Three of my favorite answers: Edward R. Murrow resurrected and reporting on CNN live/dead via hologram; microscopic video cameras implanted into our eyes so that all our waking moments have YouTube potential; and newspapers localized for every single person on earth. Truly, the only prediction that I feel comfortable making about J&MC’s future is that there will be one. The profession, the field of study, will survive, and the world will be better for it.