After the successful launch of our company blog in Germany yesterday, I spent most of today editing email messages that we’ll send out to journalists and PR professionals, as well as compiling press lists. Our emails will reach thousands of people, so it’s important to check every step involved in the distribution. This is tedious work, and I prefer to spare you the details on assembling and formatting emails in HTML and handling spreadsheets. Instead, I want to use today’s blog post to reflect on how the media world I am now working in intersects with the academic sector I left over two years ago.
Journalists and academics have a lot in common. They both explain events and biographies, developments and histories, they provide context and perspectives. Like academics, journalists analyze, criticize, and question or confirm facts. They conduct research, produce knowledge and create narratives. Like journalists, academics today more than ever spread news, share their knowledge and engage in debates via social media. They produce an intellectual fabric and help navigate through a growing influx of information.
It’s also interesting to note that scholars and journalists face very similar changes and challenges. Continuing job cuts and lack of funding increase competition. The pressure to produce high-quality research and publications is enormous, yet prospects seem grim. Adjuncts and freelance journalists are highly qualified and educated, but often depend on contingent work arrangements. Former academic and Al Jazeera English columnist Sarah Kendzior has written much on this topic.
Both journalism and academia haven been shaken up profoundly over the past years. As a former academic now working in the media sector, however, I see some of these changes out of poor circumstances as posing real opportunities for innovation. Open access to scholarly resources and social media allow more voices to participate in debates and discussions. They make academia and media more diverse, and the Ivory Tower and journalism more democratic and less exclusionary. The innovative dimension of change also provides new directions for funding possibilities, such as crowd funding for smaller projects or entire business ideas. I’m excited to experience the changes in both these fields.