Category Archives: Media Academics

Journalism Schools’ Myopia When ‘Testing’ Google Glasses

Google Glasses
Google Glasses

How will journalists could use Google Glasses ? It’s the wrong question.

The right question for journalists to ask is how and why will people who consume media use Google Glasses (or similarly wearable optic interfaces)?

Whenever I encounter media professors or media researchers testing how journalists could use Google Glasses, I ask them this simple question: what proportion of Google Goggles users will be consumer and what proportion will be journalists? My guess is the ratio 20,000 to one. Thus, which of the following two topics is more important for journalism schools to research:

  • How will and why people use Google Goggles to consume news, entertainment, and information?
  • How will and why journalists use Google Goggles to produce news?

The first question is clearly more important than the latter.

Journalists, particularly when they have a new toy, too often ‘put the cart in front of the horse’. When examining a new device or a new process, they think, ‘How can I use this to do what I do?’ rather than asking ,”How will people want to use this?” Imagine a chef who sees a new kitchen appliance and thinks, “Is there any way I can use this new device to make Chicken Marengo?” when his restaurant’s customers might instead be hungry for something other than that dish. Any industry that continues producing what it wants to produce when instead that product is not what people want or how people want to use that product, will fail. Ask the tens of thousands of newspaper reporters in the U.S. who’ve become unemployed during the past seven years before they and their bosses lost touch with what people want from them.

When journalism schools study what impact Google Glasses might have on their profession, the schools need to focus on: which topics, types, and modes of news will people want to consume while wearing such devices?

There are at least five possible topics of study about Google Glasses, and three of those also are what schools also need to study about the effects smartphones will have journalism:

1. Geolocation – What topics, types, and modes of news will people want to consume based upon their exact location as they roam?
2. Recognition – What topics, types, and modes of news will people want to consume based upon what they see as they roam?
3. Augmented-Reality – How best to provide, display, and explain news visually so that it overlays what they see?

Google Glasses add at least two more topics journalism schools need to study:

4. Hands-Free ContextWhat multimedia interfaces can be used so that people can interact hands-free with news provided in Augmented-Reality? (Unlike smartphones with touchpad interfaces, Google Glasses rely largely upon voice commands and simple scrolling motions; all of which somewhat restrict, compared to other computerized devices, how people interact with the device.)
5. Kinesthetic Context – Because Google Glasses are literally looking at whatever the wearer is looking at that moment (unlike a Smartphone or camera, which must be aimed), an unwavering gaze, how should the topics, types, mode, and displays of news or other information be automatically changed according to not only where the wearer is but what the wearing is doing? For example, a stationary person might want different news than someone who is moving at 30 kilometers per hour through the same spot and different than someone who is moving 150 kilometers per hour though that spot. Detailed texts might be fine for a stationary person, but not someone biking or driving past.

Google Goggles were invented as ways for people to access access information in the context of their lives, not the journalists’ lives.

Unfortunately, most of the research being done about Google Glasses in journalism school focuses on how journalists might use these devices for recording audio or video (most specifically, reporter’s point-of-view videos). Much of that research is well-meant but misguided. By almost all standards, Google Glasses are inferior to hand-held video cameras or even clip-on video recording devices. No surprises there. So, why research how to use an inferior device just because among the many things it can do is reproduce badly the capabilities of better usable devices?. The five research topics I’ve mentioned are more pertinent.

Google Glasses are novel to use, but many journalism schools are using the devices merely as new toys in the labs or excuses for ‘research’ which will likely be inconsequential. Journalism professors and instructors should remove their prototypes these spectacles and directly eyeball how consumers will use the devices. The answers to that are key.

New Media Business Course Syllabi

For the past four years, I’ve been teaching a New Media Business for media course at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. It was originally open just to postgraduate students, but a few years ago we opened it to select upperclassmen, too.

Some 250 students have taken the course. Approximately half were from the Newhouse School’s Media Management masters degree program, in which taking the course is a requirement. However the rest of the students have been from the school’s Arts Journalism, Broadcast Journalism, Communications, Graphic Design, Magazine, Newspaper, Photography, Public Diplomacy, Public Relations, and Television/Radio/Film departments. Students and staff from the university’s Whitman School of Business, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, School of Information Studies, University College, and the College of Law also have taken the course. In any semester, between a quarter and a third of the students who take the course are foreign, mainly from China, India, the Middle East, or European Union.

Because New Media technologies, business models, and practices are continually changing, I have to update the course syllabus every semester. Here is the current version, minus university boilerplate:

New Media Business syllabus

ICC625-M001 (55764) & ICC300-M001 (60544)

Spring 2012

Course Goals: Learn the dynamics, economics, and technologies that are reshaping the media industries worldwide during the 21st Century. Learn how these differ from those of 20th Century media. Learn how to adapt to these changing times.

Disclosures: There aren’t sufficient hours in this single course to provide in-depth assessments of all New Media technologies which are constantly evolving.

Moreover, the syllabus you’re reading is subject to change. Each semester a different mix of students from Newhouse departments attends this course. For example, last semester’s course was taken by 18 Media Management, two Broadcast Journalism, one Public Relations, one Advertising, one Newspaper student, and a Whitman staffer. In contrast, this semester’s course currently has five Advertising, one Broadcast Journalism, and one Newspaper student enrolled. So, after the first week of classes each semester, the instructor revises this syllabus to focus on the specific needs of the students in that semester.
Dates, Hours, and Location: Twenty-nine (29) eighty-minute classes will be held between 11:00 a.m. and 12:20 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from January 17 to May 1, 2012, in the Larry Kramer War Room (#252 in Newhouse 3, geo-coordinates on request).

Agenda & Topics: The following agenda of class topics is tentative. The actual agenda may vary due to availability of speakers or additional topics added during the semester either by the instructor or the requests of students.

The first four weeks of the course surveys the current state of the world’s media; how that situation cannot be explained by classical Mass Media theory, and examines the new theories which fit that situation.

January 17 – Ritual Reading of the Syllabus. Plus, discussion of class goals and policies. Handout: Student questionnaire.

January 19 – Embracing Change. The elasticity of time. The Confederate widow and the World War One Flying Ace anachronisms. How long do you plan to live? People you’ll meet who will in the the 22nd Century. How to adapt to change, and why knowing how to embrace change and adapt to is the paramount skill for 21st Century media people to have.

January 31 and February 2 – Apocalypse. What challenges do the advertising, newspaper, magazine, radio, television, cinema, public relations, photography industries now face? How the ancient Greek word apokálypsis actually means ‘lifting of the veil’, ‘revelation’, and ‘disclosing something hidden in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception’ and not (contrary to popular belief) ‘chaos’ or ‘end of the world’.

February 2 – Creative Disruption. How an Austrian economist strove to become the greatest economist in the world, the best horseman in his nation, and the greatest lover in all of Vienna. How his work in one of those endeavors helps us understand the situation the media industries face.

February 7 – What Ultimately Are Causing the Media Change? Meet Gordon Moore, Martin Cooper, and Gerald Butters. The interactions of what they observed. Will change stop in your lifetime? The clockwork towards technological singularity.

February 9 – What Has Been the Greatest Change in Media History? Are New Media merely traditional forms of media put online or manifestations of something much larger underway? What has been the greatest change in media to occur in human history?

February 14 – Across the Spectrum of Change. How the greatest change in media history affects the practices and businesses models of journalism, entertainment, and information, and even the content of those fields. Why Social Media are manifestations of this change and the ‘tidal shift’ resulting.

February 16 – The Economics of Content and the Contents of Surplus. Why traditional media business models are failing. How supply & demand specifically affects value and attention and value. Why fewer and fewer people will pay for traditional content, and use it less frequently and less thoroughly—no matter if the content is delivered via traditional forms or online. How content must change. How, where, and when to charge for what content?

The next five weeks provide practical information about how to prosper and adapt to changes in various fields and formats of media during the 21st Century.

February 21 – Web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and the Internet Timeline. How you only have to remember two things about the geologic timescale of New Media. How a host of people, almost all of them in their twenties, had the courage of their ideas and have changed the world.

February 23 – How Does Digital Work? What Does Interactive Actually Mean? Do TurboTax® or the Intel Turbo Boost® really use turbochargers? Do the words digital and interactive actually have real meanings? Why knowing these meanings can lead media to success.

February 28 –Alphabet Soup: HTTP, CSS, SEO, SEM, XML, and ROI. How the Worldwide Web works. How to measure and improve your use of the Web and other interactive technologies. And why the refrigerator you buy five years after your graduation will know some good recipe for what it contains.

March 1 – What are Individuated Media? Should You Be Permissive or Intrusive? Will Mass Media continue to be the primary way people obtain news, entertainment, and information or will something else replace it?

March 6 & 8 – The Practices and Effectiveness of Online Advertising. Why something with such relatively small response rates is becoming the world’s primary form of advertising. Practices and problems.

March 14 & 16 – Spring Break Week.

 March 20 – How New Media Differs Legally from Traditional Media. Technology outrunning the law and governments. COPA, CAN-SPAM, Safe Harbors, Personal Jurisdiction, SOPA, and Net Neutrality

March 22 – The Blogosphere. Does anyone actually earn money blogging? Should you or your company blog? What if everyone else is doing it? The revenge of ‘the people formerly known as the audience.’

March 27 – Going Mobile. Will mobile really change the media industries? What are the ‘G’s, Geolocation, Augmented Reality, and Goggling?

March 29 – Tweets, Check-Ins, Virtual Realities, and Loquacious Devices. The incipient deaths of keyboarding and handwriting. Meet the new intermediaries: Dragons, Siris, and HALs.

The final month of course examines the futures of various industries and provides practical information about how to prosper and adapt to changes in various fields and formats of media during the 21st Century.

April 3 – The Revenge of Paper. How tablet devices are just one of many primordial steps to something that replaces paper. A dress of OLED. Everything becomes a display. What will the book in the future do?

April 5 – The Revenge of Radio. How a medium once thought to be dying has become one of the most popular mobile app. Have you seen the radio station’s video? Individuation in radio. How Pandora teach Individuation, not Mass Media.

April 10 – The Future of Television. Brought to you by Ethernet television and a host of pretenders. The coming implosion of the U.S. television affiliate model. Can your local station survive? No borders except language and culture. Rights, Royalties, and Revanchism.

April 12 – The Future of Cinema. Digital projection to the home big screen versus the bigger screen with strangers at the mall? Had 3D gone flat? A holographic shell game: which of the ‘Peas’ is really there?

April 17 – A Tale of Two Parochial Countries. Who are the largest groups of nationals online? Why you should go abroad virtually before seeing all of the 50 United States. How a country that once led the world in interactive is now ranked in the teens. What you can learn from other nation’s New Media.

April 19 –Business Formation, Partners, and Practices. A primer about how to form a business legally and to deal with partners, investors, co-workers, or employees. How new technologies affect ownership.

April 24 & 26 – A Week of Best Practices from Worldwide. Who said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal”?

May 1 – Course Summary & Evaluations.

Textbooks: There are no required textbooks for this course. No printed textbook is able to keep current with the changes radical underway in the media industry. Besides, this is a New Media course, so the instructor will assign online readings. The instructor can recommend specific books about New Media which students in those specific majors should read.

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Seeking a Professor and Endowed Chair in Journalism Innovation

The S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications seeks a Professor and Chair in Journalism Innovation, a new, endowed position that will help place the school on the cutting edge in teaching, scholarship and inquiry.

The Chair will develop and teach new, innovative courses that will allow students to explore the intersections of journalism and technology and will work collaboratively to develop new content models and new forms of storytelling. The ideal candidate will have a strong interest in product development and emerging media and will pursue research initiatives at Newhouse, across campus and through industry partnerships and alliances.

We value a candidate’s ability to design unique hands-on experiences that allow our students to experiment with new technology and interactive media, while honoring our commitment to quality, ethical journalism.

The Chair is expected to participate in and lead a global conversation exploring and building new models to produce and disseminate information. The chair will also serve as director of a proposed Center for Journalism Innovation and help seek external funding for new initiatives.

Candidates should demonstrate a track record of continuing accomplishment in communications innovation, particularly in methods of content design and production, sharing and delivery, and a portfolio of strong connections in the field across multiple disciplines. They should have an advanced degree or be able to demonstrate equivalent accomplishment in the field.

The Newhouse School encourages candidates to apply who will help us broaden the diversity of our faculty and our students’ experiences. Syracuse University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

A review of applications begins this fall, and will continue until the position is filled. Apply online at www.sujobopps.com, job #028438. A cover letter, resume or vitae and names and contact information for four references must be provided online.

Direct questions to Steve Davis, search chair, at jsdavi02@syr.edu.

The Epochal Change That The Rise of Social Media Demarcates

Whenever anyone from the traditional media industries writes, blogs, or tweets about Social Media, they miss the point. I find this so exasperating that I want to stab them with the point. Here is my thrust:

When newspaper, magazine, radio, and television folks write or speak about Social Media, they consider Social Media as sideshows or separate from traditional media. They liken Social Media to bulletin boards, chat rooms, or online forums purely for social interactions (hence the name they’ve given it). This misconception is prevalent even in academia. The media school where I teach has created a new position, professor of Social Media, as if Social Media are separate from traditional media.

What they all don’t understand is that Social Media are not separate from Traditional Media. Social Media are the successors to Traditional Media.

The difference between Traditional and Social Media is that the tide has turned. People will no longer go to media sites to find what interests them; they now want what interests them to be delivered to their site. A person’s Social Media page is the edition he will read, the channel he will watch. He will no longer consume traditional media editions or traditional media channels.

For centuries, if a person wanted news, information, or entertainment, the person had to go to the sites of traditional media and hunt & gather there for what might interest him.

  • Beginning in the 1600s, if he wanted news, he had to go read a newspaper posted on or near the public notices board of his town square or buy a copy of that newspaper or, at best, go pay to have that entire newspaper delivered to him. Only a handful of the many stories published in that newspaper edition might truly interest him, but he would nevertheless have to go through the entire edition just to find the few stories which might truly interest him. And starting in the 1700s, he could add magazines to that chore.
  • Starting in the early 20th century, he could receive radio and later television, both of which were automatically delivered to him if he had receivers. Nevertheless, he would wait during the entire programming schedule for the few programs that might truly interest him.
  • And beginning in 1991 (actually 1996 with traditional media), he could go to the web sites of those newspapers, magazines, and radio and television stations or networks, where among all the packages of printed stories and broadcast program schedules he might find the few stories or programs that truly interested him.

Thus for centuries people had to go to and through traditional media’s editions and program schedules, and hunt and gather among all the stories and programs for the specific stories and programs matched the person’s individual’s interests. That era is ending.

The rise of Social Media demarcates an epochal reversal in the flow between people and news, entertainment, and information.

The people now want whatever news, entertainment, and information individually interests them to come to their own personal site (i.e., their microsite on Facebook, MySpace, Tencent, Twitter, Qzone, etc.) Less and less will people visit traditional media sites where they must hunt and gather for the stories or programs that interest them. They instead want those individually categorized things delivered automatically to them into their Social Media pages or future equivalents (their Daily Me‘s?)

Rather than hunt and gather, people want to cultivate. They no longer want to go and find at media sites. They now expect the media to come deliver at their sites. It’s an historic change in how they acquire news, information, and entertainment. Indeed, an epochal tidal change: No longer will the people flow to media sites, they now want individually relevant parts of those media sites to flow to them.

This change is one of many ramifications from people’s access and supply of news, entertainment, and information changing from relative scarcity to surplus.

When the supply of something changes from scarcity to surplus, the buyers gain more power than the sellers.  For centuries (no, millennia!), people had scarce access to news, entertainment, and information, so publishers and later broadcasters had the power to compel the people to visit media companies’ sites. Rather than supply each person individually, according to that individual unique interests, publishers and broadcasters were able to insist that the people be a mass and consume aggregated packages, even if not everything in an aggregated edition or channel or program schedule would satisfy each person.

Yet now that people have surplus supply and access to news, entertainment, and information, the people have the power and no longer have to consume aggregated editions, channels, or program schedules. They no longer have to consume as a mass. Each person can compel publishers and broadcasters to deliver only the stories and programs that interest them, regardless of what else might have been in the traditional editions, channels, program schedules, or web sites.

Media sites will still exist, though primarily as repositories of content, and some people will still visit those sites. Yet the vast majority of people will expect the elements they want from those repositories to go to them

Media companies need to learn that the stories in their traditional editions or the programs in their own traditional program schedules are now more valuable separately than as produced as editions or program schedules. Stop concentrating on the producing and selling the editions or the programming lineup schedules. Concentrate instead on producing, syndicating, and selling each individual stories and individual program. Go with the flow. The tide has changed.

Citizen Journalism Absent in the Arab Press

My thanks to Dr. Khalid Mohammed Ghazi, editor of the Cairo-based Arab Press Agency, for citing some of my work in his editorial, صحافة المواطن.. غائبة عن الصحافة العربية (Citizen Journalism…Absent from the Arab Press), published on Wednesday in, among other newspapers, Al Shabiba of Oman. [Click the English title of his essay to read a Google machine translation of the Arabic original].

As Dr. Ghazi writes, Citizen Journalism is hugely missing from the Arabic speaking world! He notes Al Jazzera’s efforts to introduce it, using online and cable television broadcasts (the latter similar to CNN’s i-Report project), but that Arabic printed media lags far behind, even in Arabic countries where government regulation of media isn’t that big a problem. He writes:

“We believe that citizen journalism may have added a new dimension to the news process, allowing the average citizen a sense of the journalist and the curiosity and motivation to become a participant and an architect and not just the quest for truth only; but that citizen journalism in the world still faces some criticism in relation to the accuracy of news put forward through it.”

Arabic is the first language of nearly a quarter billion people and the official language of 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Perhaps one reason for the low adoption of citizen journalism there is that Internet penetration is still relatively low, estimated at 29% (3.3% of the world’s Internet users). However, those percentages should rise this decade, and I hope that citizen journalism will become a staple of many Arabic countries’ media.

Savvy Articles About Change or Its Lack in News Media

On July 31st here, I wrote about the need for Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication to produce more practical research to help media industries faced with radical changes and two days ago I reported about commentary my call produced. For reasons I mentioned on the 31st, I didn’t attend the AEJMC annual conference this year, instead following it last week via Twitter (unfortunately, AEJMC doesn’t webcast).

From what I understand from the tweets, the AEJMC conference didn’t produce any fruitful focus on research that might help the industries survive. Some academics respond that research about how to train journalists to write well and report objectively certainly helps those industries. That’s true, but I worry about if there will viable media industries and jobs for those well trained journalists unless those industries can reverse their declines. It’s fine to produce a fine tool, but it’s worthless unless anybody use it.

Nevertheless, from the tweets I saw, there was indeed a sea change at AEJMC this year–the growing primacy of New Media as people’s way to access news and information.  My Newhouse School colleague, Associate Dean Hub Brown described it well.

I’m glad academia is noticing a change that’s been underway for at least half a decade, when the majority of homes in post-industrial countries began using broadband Internet. A world way from AEJMC, Sky News and others in Australia are reporting that the board of directors at Fairfax Media, has ordered a strategic review of the company’s structure and management and a much more aggressive approach to the Internet side of its business because investors have criticized Fairfax’s Internet strategy. There is now talk of building website paywalls, combining print and online managements, and even ceasing to print and going fully digital. Fairfax publishes  The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review, and other newspaper in Australia and in New Zealand it publishes The Dominion Post, The Press, The Sunday Star-Times, and other newspapers.

Last week, Dave Morgan, CEO of Simulmedia, founder of TACODA and Real Media, and the former general counsel and director of New Media ventures at the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association warned that

I know the last thing that local media companies need is another Web-driven disruption in their markets, particularly one that could take a big chunk out of their revenues in the next few years. If local newspaper, yellow pages, radio or local TV companies thought that Google, Yahoo, eBay and craigslist were disruptive, they are now going to face down a competitor that will have an even bigger impact on their businesses than any one of those companies did.

I believe that location-based Web services will take 20% to 25% of the annual revenue out of local media’s current advertising base within four years. Yes, 20% to-25% of their revenue base will be lost by 2014. That spend will be displaced by promotion and marketing fees paid to these new location-based services or applications that run on top of them. To the incumbent companies, these new services will be like craigslist on steroids.

I think he’s right. Read the rest of his warning at MediaPost.

Another savvy article that cuts right through the fog is Robert Niles recent article, The only metric that matters, published in Online Journalism Review:

In the nearly 15 years that I’ve been working online, I’ve watched the most popular metric among Web publishers change from “hits,” to “page views,” to “unique visitors” to “time on site.”

But none of those metrics really matter. I’ve seen sites post phenomenal numbers for each of those categories, and fail. There’s one metric, and only one, that truly matters in determining your websites’s commercial success.

Revenue.

Your visitors can spend hours per month on your website, but a huge “time on site” value by itself won’t entitle you to a dime (see Twitter). I suspect that one reason why various Web metrics fall into and out of favor over the years is that managers talk up or down those metrics based on their website’s individual performance. Someone notices that people are spending more time, on average, on the website, then he or she gets on a panel at a news industry conference and – boom – “time on site” becomes the metric everyone needs to consider.

Like Robert, I’ve seen publishers chase ‘hits’, ‘page views’, ‘unique users’, ‘time on site’, and now ‘engagement’ as false metrics of success. None of those mean a damn unless the content is generating enough revenue to sustain the operation.

A third smart article is Can publishers learn from failure or should we just set the bar lower? written by Kylie Davis, the chief of staff for the Sun-Herald in Sydney, as well as an undergraduate in the Australian Graduate School of Management masters of business administration program at the University of New South Wales.

There is a lot of talk about how newspaper companies are slow to embrace change, that we are laggards when it comes to adopting to new business opportunities and suffer as a result.

But new research from the Australian School of Business takes it one step further, claiming that organisations will often embrace failure and rationalise it into success as a coping mechanism that justifies their behaviour.

Is this what newspapers have been doing?

Ms. Davis has been looking at a study by her university’s Gavin M. Schwarz entitled, the Logic of Deliberate Structural Inertia or, as its the online summary titles it, “Organisational Failure: How Lousy Results Become Optimal Outcomes”. She says that “some businesses suffer from ‘deliberate structural inertia’ where organisations prefer not to change their tried-and-true methods.”

Newspaper companies are full of enthusiastic proponents of new technology — staff who are hungry to embrace the new digital world and work on strategies to bring the dollars in and delight our readers and advertisers and who can see it’s potential. But the word from the top is to “wait”.

The research says “people are limited in their capacity to process information. Consequently they adopt spontaneous strategies to simplify complex problems and this allows failure to be rationally defended.”

Too many newspaper companies have done this over the past 10 years, claiming that the changes in mobile phone and online readers were niches that would never take off enough to justify us altering what and how we deliver content. They’ve preferred to wait until nimbler competitors proved that there really was a market there — and by the time we’ve tried to enter, the horse has bolted.

Savvy stuff for anyone trying to understand the failure to adapt by post-industrial countries’ daily newspaper industries. Whenever I hear a newspaper editor says, ‘Because other media can provide news to people more immediately than we can in print, newspapers’ future will be as a provider of analysis about the news rather than the news itself,’ I see someone who is redefining failure as success. There is no reason why newspapers online cannot provide news as immediately to people as other media can. But not if the editor is going to resist changing his traditional practices.

Ms. Davis article is freely available at the International News Marketing Association’s website.

The Media Academic Research Treadmill

Several hundred media professors will converge on Denver, Colorado, this week for the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. I won’t be among them (I’ll be at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where my fiancé is undergoing treatment).

I teach New Media at a leading school, so probably should (were not my fiancé ill) go to the AEJMC conference. I’d learn more about my profession, meet my peers, and probably learn how to teach better.

However, I’ve no interest in attending AEJMC. The reason was best described by Earl Wilkinson, executive director of the International Newspaper Marketing Association (now the International News Marketing Association) who attended the 2002 and 2003 AEJMC conferences. One of his motives for attending was to tap “into the academic research that is largely unknown by newspapers executives. I was a very strong motive.” While attending, Wilkinson found AEJMC to be an organization of academics with passion for what they teach, with a sense of fraternity that he wished newspaper executives could emulate.

“Yet my original selfish motive missed the target. What I found in the piles of academic papers laid out … was a lot of well-intentioned research that had little applicability to the realities of the newspaper industry. During the past year, we have gone through literally thousands of AEJMC abstracts at the Michigan State University archive and found a similar result.

“What we found, to put it bluntly, is academics talking to other academics — which is a noble form of communications, unless division after division, committee after committee didn’t also express to me their profound desire to help the realities of the newspaper industry. As I reported to the INMA Board of Directors last year, about 2 percent of of the research being done is applicable to the business of newspapers and you must have incredible patiences finding “leads” to the stories in that 2 percent.”

The words I quoted Wilkinson spoke in a presentation to the 2003 AEJMC conference. In that presentation, he mentioned the newspaper industry had just survived the toughest recession since the Great Depression and greatly needed practical research.

Seven years later, the news industries have just survived an even greater recession and greater declines and challenges. The media industries are screaming for practical research. Yet I’ve found nothing has changed from what Wilkinson found in 2002 and 2003. The vast majority of academic research has no value to the media industries.

Some academics might reply that much of their research is aimed at better teaching students to work in media, not helping the media industries themselves. My retort is that those students might not have industries to work in unless someone performs practical research to solve those industries’ problems. No one is more able than academics to do that research.

Medical schools, engineering schools, and law schools do research that solves their industries’ problems and advances the practices of those industries. If not 98 percent of media schools’ research should do that, then at least the majority of the research should. Not a mere 2 percent.