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BEA President’s Corner

Looking forward. In this President’s Corner, I suggest we always need to be doing that, here at the point in the year where we are often finalizing curriculum changes for next year, deciding about new research projects, and making final plans for the BEA convention in April, expecting to make that experience personally and professionally invigorating.

“Foresight is 20/20: Reimagining Media” as our spotlight this year reminds us of doing exactly that, looking forward. Yet at the same time, we’re at the 100-year anniversary of the start of radio broadcasting in the U.S., and we should be likewise reflecting on that. Can we effectively apply our knowledge, skills, experience, and understanding of the past to guide us into the next stages of what do in the classroom, and in the media industry?  This is on my mind in part because, with curriculum evaluations these days, we start buying into a notion that legacy media are irrelevant and we be teaching the new, flashy technology. So we reimagine media. And at some level, of course, we should.

I recall the transition in the curriculum from tape-based video editing to non-linear. The experienced faculty argued during that transition time that we should still teach linear because it helped an editor think about the edits being made. Then we gave up on linear. I recall teaching cut and splice editing on audiotape and teaching it like it would matter for years to come, since, before digital editing, it was the only way we could edit. Then we gave up on tape. In society, we kept theater even as we had film to tell stories, but we gave up on vaudeville shows because technology gave us easier ways to get that kind of entertainment.

So looking back should inform us and should guide us, and we should appreciate the marvelous thing that photography was once it was available and the marvelous thing broadcasting was when people started using it. I am equally amazed today with the efficiency of digital for how I teach and for how I use the media. At the same time, as I plan that new technology-based class within proposed curriculum changes, I keep reminding myself of the foundational elements of our field. Good storytelling.  Good writing and use of the language of the media, in terms of how we develop a story and create the message. Ethical decisions in being fair to everyone, and not letting the drive for profits be our primary reason for decision-making. And of course, there are a handful more.

I haven’t solved my dilemma of not being able to predict the future, but my thinking out loud on this subject is based on the reality that I’m seeing our April convention program fall into place at this time of year, in panels, research, guest speakers, and creative scholarship, and it has me anticipating that personal and professional invigoration I know we can all have, as I expect to see some new ideas from many of you for how I can reimagine media. I look forward to seeing you there.

Tony DeMars
BEA 2019-20 President