In the latest Chronicle of Higher Education, CMS Director Henry Jenkins writes about the need for media studies to evolve from separate disciplines (film, photography, literature, …) into something resembling our own program’s current mode, comparative media studies, and how the networked, digital landscape continues to shape this change.
He writes, “media studies needs to become comparative, … to reflect the ways that the contemporary media landscape is blurring the lines between media consumption and production, … [and] to respond to the enormous hunger for public knowledge about our present moment of profound and persistent media change.”
Each media-studies program will need to reinvent itself to reflect the specifics of its institutional setting and existing resources, and what works today will need to be rethought tomorrow as we deal with further shifts in the information landscape.
Until we make these changes, the best thinking (whether evaluated in terms of process or outcome) is likely to take place outside academic institutions—through the informal social organizations that are emerging on the Web. We may or may not see the emergence of YouNiversities, but YouTube already exists. And its participants are learning plenty about how media power operates in a networked society.