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Yesterday’s questions…

…were these: Can the university hope to escape the forces of change that have imposed themselves so disruptively on journalism? Or must the university too learn how to earn its authority in a new way?

Judging by the ways I hear people talking about social media on campus, this new set of tools is seen primarily as an aid to marketing, and so the problem is taken to be a marketing problem. That means that the deeper disruption, the reshaping of attitudes about authority, that has, it seems, touched journalism, is not thought to be an issue for colleges and universities. Judging by the words and actions of administrators and marketers, the audience simply demands that we use these new tools, but nothing more.

If so, then the conversation is much more mature among journalists than among academics. We academics assume our position is secure. Why we might do so in an age when state funding for public colleges and universities is covering smaller portions of the school budget each year, when full-time faculty are a minority of the faculty at many schools, and when part-time faculty often work in abusive labor conditions, I don’t know. I guess the tenured folks are getting by. (Full disclosure: I have tenure.)

No wonder it is so interesting to keep an eye on what journalists are thinking about this crisis — it may very well be our crisis over here in a few years.

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