August 06, 2010

AEJMC - Top paper winners, new officers and other developments

Well, two days of the AEJMC convention are under our belts (three days if you count Tuesday's preliminary sessions), and it's been a good round of COMJIG sessions so far.

Reports are that the "Media Ethics in My Little Town" panel was a big success Wednesday (I had a conflict and could not go). Today's (Thursday's) research session was excellent, showing the range of "community" goes far beyond small-town or rural. That's a message we continue to try to get across; COMJIG is a good home for many scholars' research, but too often gets tagged as that "small-town paper group."

Our top paper winners are Tracy Loope of Florida for "Heart Disease in the Rural South: A Content Analysis of the Community Newspaper Coverage" and Steve Smethers of Kansas State for "After the Storm: Greensburg Residents Discuss an Open Source Project as a Source of Community News."

Not only did our research session draw a good crowd (I counted 20 at one point), so did our three scholar-to-scholar papers by Arthur Santana of Oregon, Mark Poepsel of Missouri and George Daniels of Alabama. The cluster drew some of the most people I saw at any of the presentations.

Between Loope and Smethers in that photo is Joe Marren of Buffalo State, our research chair, who at Thursday night's business meeting advanced to become vice head/programming. Andris Straumanis moves up to be COMJIG head, and John Hatcher of Minnesota-Duluth, becomes research chair. Ralph Hanson of Nebraska-Kearney remains as PF&R (professional freedom and responsibility) chair, Eileen Gilligan of SUNY-Oswego is staying on as teaching chair, and Al Cross of Kentucky remains secretary/membership.

In some other news from Denver:
  • We have decided to raise membership dues to $10 for regular members, but keep them at $5 for students. We have just over $1,000 now, and once programming costs are deducted, we will have less than $1,000. With the need to cover some costs for Andris' and Joe's attendance at the winter meeting in Albuquerque in December and possible costs for panelists at next year's convention in St. Louis, along with funding our $100 awards for best faculty and student papers, things will be a little slim.
  • We voted to support Montreal as the site of the 2014 convention. The room rates are guaranteed to be less than $160 CAN, with as much as $30,000 in economic incentives to AEJMC if we fill the rooms. The other candidates: Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville.
  • We met briefly with Civic and Citizen Journalism. CCJIG's head, Mary Beth Callie, has found that out of about 100 members in each group, 24 are common members. This is a lot less overlap than we thought. We also don't really gain programming slots by combining into a division.
  • However, based on two recent books that I am reviewing, one about civic and citizen journalism in a digital age and the other about community journalism research, it becomes clear there are many commonalities but also some clear areas where there is friction and it is hard to define the relationship. So I recommended, and the membership approved, that we consider a special research call next year for papers exploring the continued unclear - and sometimes uneasy - relationship between community and civic/citizen journalism in a digital age. We are not on a chip reduction next year, so if CCJIG goes along, we each are committing to spend a half-chip to create a second research session dealing specifically with this.
Al will post a more complete - and official - set of minutes later.

The COMJIG renewal petition went into AEJMC officials on Wedesday. I hand-delivered it into officialdom's hands. The AEJMC board of directors meets at 1 p.m. Saturday, so we can hope we will know soon after.

It is likely that next year we will undergo a "review," where Andris would have to sit with one representative of AEJMC's PF&R committee,  one of its research committee and two from the council of divisions to assess where the IG is at, etc. It's a bit different than the renewal.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone involved with COMJIG this past year. We expanded and refined out paper call, and as a result, we got a bumper crop of papers that showed well how broad the idea of community journalism is.

On to St. Louis.

- Doug

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