Don’t you think it’s time to for J-schools to change their names?

By Steve Outing

It’s one of those thoughts I can’t believe hasn’t crossed my mind till now. (Though I’m certain it’s not original.) But I just noticed that lots of journalism schools at universities are still called the “School of Journalism and Mass Communication.”

Don’t you think it’s about time that they all get rid of the unneeded and outdated word “Mass”?

After all, it’s the “mass” part — the old news industry model of one-to-many — that is fast being usurped by the many-to-many and social model that is so much a part of the digital world that journalism is transitioning to.

I’m not sure they need to replace Mass with another word; just remove it. “School of Journalism and Communication” fits today’s media reality.

To the many journalism schools that still have “Mass” in their names, why is it still there?

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

7 Responses to "Don’t you think it’s time to for J-schools to change their names?"

  1. Ryan Sholin
    Ryan Sholin 8 years ago .Reply

    Because “Communication” is a different discipline — or at least a different department at many universities — and once academic politics are in play, you might as well stick with what you’ve got, no matter how outdated it seems to outsiders.

    (My thinking on this may be colored by the fact that I’m in the middle of finishing up my M.S. in Mass Communications (I have to look it up every time I type it to remember if that’s one communication or two) at a School of J & MC.)

  2. Ben
    Ben 8 years ago .Reply

    Ha, good point Steve! But, I imagine changing the name is difficult with the often large bureaucracy at schools. Let’s hope students are being taught today’s media reality at least.

  3. Bryan Murley
    Bryan Murley 8 years ago .Reply

    Steve, you have *no idea* what kind of hornets nest this is walking into. Ryan makes the good point about Communication being a different discipline (think org comm., small group comm., speech, etc.).

    also, you can’t just lop off the MC, because that brings up the other issue of what are advertising and PR? Many don’t consider them journalism.

    Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a “better” word than mass comm. (social media? media? media studies?)

  4. Steve Outing
    Steve Outing 8 years ago .Reply

    Bryan: I hear you! Yet I think it’s worth bringing up. Even PR is moving quickly into the social media realm. What bothers me is that “mass communication” no longer reflects the world we live in. It now co-exists with social media in the news, PR and advertising worlds. So continuing to call many J-schools “Journalism and Mass Communication” signifies that the school misunderstands where we’ve moved to. Most such schools have moved forward, of course, but sticking with the traditional name, to my mind, says that they’re still in the past.

    So “Communications” won’t work, as Ryan points out. “Media Studies” I like, though it might not fit all schools depending on their offerings.

  5. Cynthia McCune
    Cynthia McCune 8 years ago .Reply

    Ryan’s got it right – academic politics makes it hard to change department/school names, even when the field is changing. And that’s another part of the problem…the field is changing, but no one is quite sure how it will end up. Somehow, the “School of Media in Flux” doesn’t quite cut it.

  6. Cynthia McCune
    Cynthia McCune 8 years ago .Reply

    P.S. I’d love to see a School of Journalism and Social Media!

  7. fish
    fish 8 years ago .Reply

    or Public Media, as has been suggested at the locale from which i believe that logo came – a university where the president’s office is spending quite a lot of money (despite the probability of budget cuts by the state) to undertake a branding study. and like other large bureaucracies, nothing happens quickly at public universities. even promoting things on, say, facebook would take an act of some higher level, unless it’s being done in a kind of rogue way. and that’s too bad.

Leave your comment