University-Industry Task Force Finds Complex Alliance Activity

Article excerpt

Calls for greater cooperation between journalism educators and professional media organizations have taken on new urgency as the nature of media technologies, organization structures, and products have changed.

The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE), the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) have established committees or undertaken initiatives to promote greater cooperation with academic institutions.

At the 1992 NAA convention, the topic was raised at a foundation session called "What Do We Tell The Kids?" (America, 1992, Atwater, 1992). At the 1993 NAA convention, talk about cooperation dominated discussions at the NAA Foundation/AEJMC Joint Committee on Cooperative Education (AEJMC/NAA Foundation, 1993a. See also Brock, 1993, and Terry, 1993).

At the 1993 AEJMC convention, no fewer than eight sessions, including a plenary, were devoted to the issue, and further reports and discussions were part of several business meetings. It played a role in the ASNE/New Directions for News Roundtable (Stein, 1993), and at another meeting of the AEMC/NAA Foundation Cooperative Committee (AEMC/NAA Foundation, 1993b).

Of course, discussions about the appropriate relationship between the academy and the media are not new. Earliest accounts of conflict go back to Joseph Pulitzer's first offer to pay for journalism education at Harvard and to the rejection of that offer.

More recently, a series of studies and conversations about cooperation between journalism education and the media were undertaken. There was the joint Committee on News-Editorial Education (CONEE) report in the early 1980s (For an evaluation of the continued controversy surrounding the effectiveness of the CONEE recommendations, see Brock, 1993). The committee produced a document designed to help journalism programs better integrate professionals into their faculties by defining appropriate standards for promoting and granting tenure to media professionals.

Then came the Oregon Report ("Planning for Curricular Change in Journalism Education"), which attempted to reexamine the journalism and mass communication curriculum and made recommendations for reshaping that curriculum to address the changing nature of the professions. It included several specific recommendations for areas of cooperation among educators and professionals (Planning for Curricular Change in Journalism Education, 1984, 1987).

After that came the Wingspread Report, which brought together professionals and journalism educators in an attempt to talk out differences in perception about journalism education (The Wingspread Project, 1989).

In 1991, two attempts were made to examine the kinds of cooperative relationships that have been undertaken by professionals and academics.

Ralph Izard, for the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication, undertook a study of cooperative programs by polling members of AEJMC's Council of Affiliates. The result was a list of more than 50 cooperative alliances offered by Council members to journalism educators (Izard, 1991).

Also in 1991, the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center published what Everett Dennis and Jane Coleman called the first publication to provide "a broad overview of professional development opportunities for faculty." The directory, focused on national associations and foundations, did not include initiatives by individual media companies. It did offer a list of more than 60 national faculty development programs grounded in cooperation between the journalism education and national media organizations (Pioneering Partnerships, 1991).

The joint task force

In 1992, the presidents of AEJMC and ASJMC, Tony Atwater and Ralph Izard, independently decided that the time had come to review the kinds of appropriate cooperative relationships between the academy and the media professions. …