Oh Geez, “Integrated Marketing?” Puh-leeze

The Daily Northwestern is reporting that the Medill School of Journalism is thinking about changing its name to, according to Dean John Lavine, “better represent the school and what it offers.”

Okay, that’s fair. But consider this sentence:

Lavine did not comment on specific names being discussed, but said that in informal conversations he’s had with students and others, adding “Integrated Marketing Communications” to the name was a popular idea.

If this is the school’s attempt to articulate the next generation of journalism, it’s badly missing the reality that’s underway. They may be teaching integrated marketing, but that’s not the real world into which journalism is growing.

The idea of changing the name isn’t going over well with students the paper interviewed:

Emma Haak, a Medill sophomore, said she wanted the administration to “carefully consider” the possible effects of changing the name, and that the process seems like a “waste of time.”

“I understand that Medill is trying to get the multimedia approach,” she said, “but I think (changing the name) is a bit of an overreaction.”

Chardae Davis, a Medill junior, said the possible change really bothers her, and that the school was too old to change its name.

“It’s a brand in a way,” she said. “Medill has a reputation and the name stands for something.”

While she understands that journalism is evolving and so the curriculum is changing, Davis said that doesn’t mean the name should be altered.

“We came to Medill for Medill,” she said. “Not for the Medill School of Journalism and insert rest of name here.”

Schools everywhere are wrestling with the dynamics of the digital disruption, and I fully expect name-changing to become rather common. That Medill — which occupies the highest of seats on the Big‑J pedestal — would be considering a name change is a sign of the confusion the exists within the mainstream. Most of the name changes I’ve seen have been to drop the word “mass” from communications, because, well, it’s not so much about masses anymore.

Regardless of what’s being taught as “journalism,” it’s still journalism, and a name change for Medill is unnecessary.

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