PART 3: What Does the Future of Communication Look Like?

By Elizabeth Scalzo and Jen Malti

Editor-in-Chief and Assistant Sports Editor

The communications industry is hurtling forward, driven by the broad adoption of smartphone technology and connected through social media. The changes over the last 10 years have been dramatic globally, and at FDU.

In February, the university announced that, for the 2021-2022 academic year, freshmen will not be able to declare a major in communication at the Metro campus. The Equinox is investigating this change in the context of the future of communication and higher education in this five-part series that launched Monday, May 10. 

In the reporting, we researched and examined data, and we interviewed students, people working in the industry and experts on communication programs in higher education.

Alexander Rosen has been a working journalist since graduating from Arizona State University with a journalism degree in journalism and mass communication. He went to work at Ventana Productions, then CNN. He has also worked for NBC and is currently working for Vice. In his 10 years in the field, he has witnessed the changes directly affecting his work.

“When I was starting out, there was this class about social media and journalism, and at the time it was just Twitter,” Rosen in a Zoom interview. “In the last 10 years, how the media is promoted in the social sphere is one of the biggest changes I’ve seen.”

The news cycle 10 years ago was measured in 24-hour increments. Now, it’s measured in the half-life of a tweet. Rosen said he sees an even quicker pace ahead.

“I think we’ll see stories produced even faster and at a higher quality.” he said.

Ray Schroeder, professor emeritus and associate vice chancellor for online learning at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS), is a contributor to Inside Higher Education, a publication that covers the sector.

He told The Equinox that understanding new technologies is a great way for student communicators to bolster their education and careers for the future.

“If you can learn about or write a paper on blockchain to put in your e-portfolio, you will get [employers’] attention,” Schroeder said in a Zoom interview.

A master’s program at UIS helps students understand the new tools of communication.

“A part of it is [about] the internet and how to make effective videos and how to do social-media campaigns,” he said. “All of those areas are so very important when you are studying media in the 21st century.”

Barbara Allen, the director of college programming for the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank in St. Petersburg, Fla., added more to this list of skills people in media, specifically journalists, should know and understand. 

“Data visualization and the ability to collect and understand data is huge,” Allen said in a Zoom interview. “The proliferation of mis- and disinformation is going to present a significant [challenge] to democracy in our future.”  

Journalists are the watchdogs of society and without skill in understanding data and in fact-checking, the profession doesn’t have much to stand on as truth seekers. Anyone can now do what used to be the sole domain of a journalist. That will continue.

“I hope to see more people thinking beyond the confines of traditional journalism and more people without formal journalism experience being empowered to create news, information and community that helps people understand their place in the world,” Anika Anand, deputy director for LION Publishers, an organization that supports small independent news, said via email.

This story started looking at changes in communication in the last 10 years. In another 10 years, we will rely more and more on artificial intelligence, get paid in bitcoin, create resumes in blockchain, monitor our health in real time, gather data and visualize information with AR goggles — all of this while connected to our smartphone and wristwatch. 

Tomorrow, we will take a look at FDU’s communication department and the university’s plans for the program.

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Art by Elizabeth Scalzo.

Part 3 looks at the communication industry as a whole to see what the future looks like.