Print vs. online in academia

Buried in this survey of administrators at journalism schools are these two curiously contradictory findings:

  • More than 90 percent say they are “actively reviewing” their curricula with an eye toward doing more with new media and digital developments, and 47 percent report that their units will be adding at least one new digital-related or multimedia course to their programs starting this fall.
  • 73 percent report that their universities would hold faculty work published only online in less esteem than work published in traditional venues.

So even as we accept and adapt to the changes in the news profession to better serve students, we are less willing to do so in our own research and creative activity. Print still beats online, at least on campus and at tenure time.

Journalism faculty should make it clear to our universities that the shift to online is not only happening in our field, but others as well. So if we write for an online-only publication, that work should not by default be diminished because it doesn’t appear on the printed page. It should be judged on its merits and the merits of the publication, regardless of medium.

I admit to self-interest here. Two of my summer projects (a course on alternative story forms for NewsU and an article on newsroom collaboration for SND Update) will be exclusively online. I hope that they will “count” as much as a textbook chapter and an article in a trade publication. (More on the tenure process here.)

This push and pull between “traditional” and new was also felt at the recent AEJMC convention in Washington. These two bloggers sum up the conference’s tone and content:

Check ’em out. They’re online, but they’re just as insightful as anything in print.