W. Joseph Campbell

Blogging about journalism history: Why, and why bother?

In Debunking, Media myths on August 10, 2011 at 6:44 am

Journalism historians who blog.

It seems a little oxymoronic.

After all, isn’t journalism history a little too fusty, a little too musty, and a little too obscure to be readily adapted to contemporary social media such as blogging?

One might reflexively think so.

But a panel of four journalism historians who blog will discuss why they do so at a panel in St. Louis this afternoon, during the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).

The panel, titled “We blog about journalism history: Why, and why bother,” will consider the value of injecting historical dimension into contemporary debates and critiques about the performance of  news media, both traditional and online.

I’ll moderate and participate on the panel, which will bring together Chris Daly of Boston University, Karen Russell of the University of Georgia, and James McPherson of Whitworth College.

I intend to point out how blogging about journalism history can offer relevant and valuable context to the blogosphere’s never-ending debates about media performance. Journalism historians can bring to those debates perspective and analysis that would otherwise be missing or overlooked.

I also expect to note there are personal reasons for blogging as well. By blogging, journalism historians can test emergent ideas and hypotheses. Blogging can reinforce (and direct attention to) previously published work — much as Media Myth Alert seeks to do in promoting my latest book, Getting It Wrong, which debunks 10 prominent media-driven myths.

Blogging is a way to call out media myths. After all, as historian Gerard DeGroot has pointed out, “The good historian is a mythbuster.”

Blogging also allows journalism historians to take the steps toward developing larger, more detailed works, a point suggested several years ago in an intriguing blog post by Timothy Burke about why historians blog.

Among other points, Burke said he writes online essays because “I want to find out how much of my scholarly work is usefully translatable into a wider public conversation.”

Blogging about journalism history can have pedagogical value and impact far beyond the blogger’s expectations and knowledge. As such, blog posts about topics in journalism history may greatly expand the reach and application of a scholar’s research.

So it promises to be lively, the AEJMC blogging panel, which convenes at 1:30 p.m. in the Landmark #1 meeting room of the Renaissance Grand and Suites Hotel in St. Louis.

Panel-goers are invited to live-Tweet the proceedings, and use the Twitter hashtags #AEJMCblogging and #AEJMC11.


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