Media Convergence and the Canadian Journalism School: Social Conscience in the Age of Information
Dr. Maxine Ruvinsky.
Until the advent of media convergence, the important debates at Canadian journalism schools focused on the country’s concentrated ownership of the press. That concentrated ownership restricts freedom of expression and information as well as diversity of opinion was assumed as the starting point of the debate. This point is lost or buried, however, in more current debates on media convergence (broadly defined here as concentrated cross-ownership), even though the phenomenon is but the logical extreme of its predecessor. As a kind of hyper-consolidation of the profits afforded by concentrated ownership, media convergence continues to erode the journalistic base, and increasingly, to centralize control over editorial outputs. Meanwhile, the move to commercialize post-secondary education has governments withdrawing funds from erstwhile “public” universities and colleges, and these institutions relying more and more on the corporate sector for financing. For J-schools in particular, the consequences converge: commercialization of J-schools means more corporate funding from the increasingly converged media industry, the same industry that will (or will not) hire J-school graduates. While J-schools clearly need to keep up with the latest technological changes in the industry, they ought not to “prepare” students for a brand of journalism that forsakes its own highest purpose. I propose in this article of about 3,000 words to argue that journalism teachers should resist the pressure to submit to a technological tyranny of “double-clicking” as the presumed “antidote” to critical thought, and instead teach their students to think independently and with conscience in terms of possible alternatives.
Dr. Maxine Ruvinsky (Canada)
Professor of Journalism
School of Journalism Faculty of Arts
University College of the Cariboo
A print journalist for 20 years, including seven with the Montreal bureau of the Canadian Press, Dr. Ruvinsky holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from McGill University (1995), where she used literary theory to analyze and “de-code” news writing. Born and raised in Montreal, she now teaches in the School of Journalism at the University College of the Cariboo in Kamloops, B.C. Her book proposal, “Investigative Reporting in Canada,” is currently under review for publication.
(30 minute presentation, English)