Sunday, March 16, 2008

Medill may drop the J-word

Is journalism getting to be a dirty word?

Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism is thinking about dropping "journalism" from its name, according to Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn.

"Careful observers have noted the disappearance of 'journalism' at the school since (John) Lavine was named dean in December 2005 and began an aggressive effort to blend the marketing and journalism curriculum," Zorn wrote in last Thursday's column. "The school stationery, like its Web site, now refers simply to 'Medill,' after namesake 19th century Tribune managing editor and Chicago Mayor Joseph Medill."

Other candidates being considered by a committee appointed by Lavine:

  • The Medill School of Audience and Consumer Information

  • The Medill School of Media Arts and Sciences

  • The Medill School of Information and Influence

The committee is supposed to come up with a new name by April.

Zorn's readers offered some suggestions of their own this week, among them:

  • Chicago Reader blogger Whet Moser proposed "The Ministry of Information at Northwestern University."

  • "Grad 74" offered "Northwestern University School of Spin, Puffery, and Propaganda."

  • "Austin Mayor" nominated "Northwestern University's Stephen Colbert School for Truthiness."

  • And "Spector" had a tried and not-so-true idea for renaming a venerated institution: "Macy's."

Do you have a suggestion for Medill's new name? Post it here.


Greg Linch said...

Those suggestions by the readers are pretty good (especially the Colbert one), but what about this:

The Medill School for It Doesn't Matter What You Call it as Long as it Prepares Students for the Changing Media Environment.

Seriously though, why not just the Medill School of Communication? That's what we call ours at the University of Miami.

Andrew Young said...

As a 1998 Medill alum, it pains me to think that they'd remove 'Journalism' from the name of the school.

Is it semantics? Maybe. But if words don't have meaning, then why learn to write?

It's no secret that the media world has changed, and that the days of ink-stained copy editors are long gone, but the tenets of journalism remain the same.

I went to Medill fully intending to work for a major daily newspaper. I had never sent an e-mail or used the Internet. (It was 1994.) I left four years later knee-deep in new media and have remained in that arena ever since. I can't say that my in-class experience at Medill prepared me very well for an Internet life (they didn't have a New Media class until my senior year) -- but working alongside talented up-and-coming journalists did prepare me well, and it launched my career in this business.

I fear that Medill will lose out on some of those kids if the focus of the program changes away from journalism.

While convergence is the buzzword, you have to be careful what you're converging.