CJR Mourns the Loss of AJR

Mike Hoyt makes the case for why there's room for more media criticism.

It’s a lonely place from which former Columbia Journalism Review editor Mike Hoyt writes about that other JR, the American Journalism Review. AJR’s owner, the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, announced back in July that it would cease publication of AJR’s digital edition. When the school announced its decision, the digital version of the review was the only version remaining, after the 11-issues-a-year print version had endured years of being winnowed down to nothing.

In recounting some of the important contributions AJR made over the years to media criticism, Hoyt makes the case for preserving a shop dedicated to assessing the state of journalism. “Analyzing, reporting, and critiquing the media is a big job,” he writes, “and I find it hard to swallow the idea that the media itself can or will do it well or completely enough, even supplemented by independents. You need a place for writers and thinkers dedicated to that mission alone, free to cover the sweep of both big and small media.”

CJR is the last such place standing, as Hoyt points out. He’s not gloating, but just hoping CJR will be able to stick it out. And with horse-race journalism as healthy as ever this election cycle, there’s a definite need, as Hoyt points out in his conclusion:

Not to get all mystical on you, all wings-of-the-butterfly and all, but if you are smart you know that press coverage is the primary fuel for the great Civic Conversation that, in turn, helps shape our communities, our regions, our nation, our world. And so it seems to me to be hard to exaggerate the importance of energetic and imaginative and serious media criticism to try to keep the quality of that coverage—and thus that Civic Conversation—elevated.