Monday debate: The future of journalism or the future of media?

This past year has seen plenty of “future of journalism” articles, workshops, and conferences.  We too are wrestling with these issues here at SJMC, not only in terms of research (such as our new center devoted to exploring media ethics in a globally networked society) and teaching (such as Professor Young Mie Kim’s class on the social implications of new communication technologies) but in service as well (such as our partnership with the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism).

Recently, two of our faculty, Professors James Baughman and Dhavan Shahappeared on the UW-Madison program Office Hours to discuss the “future of journalism” with host Professor Ken Goldstein.  The roughly twenty-minute conversation is definitely worth a watch (click the image above to get the video). Yet I always cringe a little bit when I hear the phrase “future of journalism,” because I see the issue as much larger than this.

Over at least the last century and a half, through the aggressive deepening of a global capitalist mode of production and the broad deployment of print, broadcast, and now networked information infrastructures, the social, political, and economic processes of journalism have become tightly interrelated with the social, political, and economic processes of strategic communication.  The changing form of that interrelation today — as seen in new production and consumption technologies, new organizational forms for knowledge production, new workplace practices of information labor, and new cultural meanings about what defines “news” itself — is what interests me most.  In other words, I don’t believe you can make any substantive claims about the “future of journalism” without making related claims about the “future of strategic communication” (and perhaps the “future of entertainment”) as well.  (The Office Hours conversation above touches on this idea at about the ten-minute mark.)

I’m curious to hear what you think about alternative “futures of media” involving both journalism and strategic communication.  Any speculations or predictions?  Any hopes or fears?