Journalism studies is lacking historical perspective, an essay by Matt Carlson, of Saint Louis University, and Seth C. Lewis, of University of Oregon, argues. They call for more “temporal reflexivity” both in journalism research and education.
Despite undeniable changes, many aspects of journalism have remained static. Journalism research and education, however, embrace novelty – for example new technical skills. Are scholars and educators somehow incentivized to focus on change at the expense of stasis, or have they been taken in by the optimism and “buzz” that permeate the world of media start-ups?
The persistent ahistoricism in journalism studies erodes the usefulness of the research. Without critical reflection, researchers risk studying outliers and passing fads, and mistaking them for precursors of things to come. Admitting that one’s results may have only limited generalizability can be difficult, Carlson and Lewis write, but necessary.
The essay “Temporal reflexivity in journalism studies” was published by the journal Journalism. It is available online on the publisher’s website (abstract free).
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