Thursday, November 26, 2009

Academe and the Decline of News Media

Newspapers, newsmagazines, and broadcast-news outlets are drastically cutting staff members, bureaus, page counts, and news holes—that is, when they're not simply going out of business. The Chronicle Review asked some prominent thinkers on issues of education, communications, and news and cultural literacy how the decline of those news media will affect higher education. Here are excerpts from their answers:

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director, Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania

As partisan outlets proliferate, students raised on faux news will enter our classrooms cocooned in their own biases and conditioned to mistake ridicule for engaged contention. By creating an appetite for critical engagement, universities will challenge those insular tendencies. Drawing on their experiences in our classrooms, labs, and libraries, and mining the rich resources of the Web, our students will become citizen-journalists. In that role they will sort fact from fabulation and unmask abuses of power and the public trust.

Building on their talent for producing substance rather than sound bites, universities will host Web pages filled with accessible insight and argument about topics of national and international concern. Uncluttered by advertising and unbeholden to a commercial model, the nonprofit New York University Times and Wharton Journal will take their place alongside The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. At Berkeley and Princeton, political scientists will publicly parse politics and policy. At Swarthmore and Stanford, English majors and art historians will critique exhibits, films, novels, and television programming. And the Annenberg Public Policy Center's FactCheck.org, which debunks distortions in national political advertising and debate, will be joined by university-based sites monitoring state and local politics.

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