Networked Journalism Education

Journalism as an assemblage

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Closeup of assemblage art in the Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC

Closeup of assemblage art in the Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC

Matthew Bernius, writing on his blog Waking-Dream, captures the transitional (cosmic) moment in journalism this way:

As an out­side to jour­nal­ism look­ing in (the job of the anthro­pol­o­gist), the Wik­ileaks dis­cus­sion is about a fun­da­men­tal change in jour­nal­ism from an insti­tu­tional model to an “assem­blage” model. By that I mean that instead of news being medi­ated by a sin­gle large insti­tu­tion (say the New York Times of old), the assem­blage model is one in which a net­work of actors, includ­ing media insti­tu­tions and new play­ers such as Wik­ileaks, col­lab­o­rate in releas­ing stories….

A range of social sci­en­tists and philoso­phers have argued that there are fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ences between the two forms. The insti­tu­tion is (some­what) fixed, cen­tral­ized, and last­ing, while the assem­blage is more fluid, dis­trib­uted, and ephemeral.

The implication for journalism education is that it gets bigger or smaller in an assemblage model. If journalists define themselves by what they aren’t, they risk shrinking their roles to occasional actors in information dramas. If they expand their definition of what constitutes journalism to include all the social activities implied in assemblage, they become essential connecting tissue.

Journalism professors constantly make choices about what and how they define journalism and what students need to know. Institutional work requires one set of skills and attitudes; assemblage requires a very different set. What we teach becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: we perpetuate one mind set or we work to create an entirely new one.

Written by Donica

December 10th, 2010 at 12:31 am

Posted in journalism,Research

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