When SC&I’s Associate Dean for Programs Dafna Lemish made the decision to step down as co-editor of the Journal of Children and Media (JOCAM), which she founded 14 years ago, she didn’t need to look beyond SC&I to identify colleagues ideally qualified to assume its leadership.
Professor of Journalism and Media Studies Amy Jordan, who has served as co-editor with Lemish for years, will continue to serve in this role, while Associate Professor of Communication Vikki Katz, who has served as the journal’s associate editor during the past year, assumed the role of co-editor effective January 2019.
Founded by Lemish in 2004, and published by Taylor and Francis, JOCAM is the only academic journal that focuses on media, children, and youth up to the age of 18.
Since its founding, the journal’s impact has been wide and deep. It has created a community of scholars interested in this field; stimulated academic and public conversations on key children and media-related topics; increased awareness of new research questions and new findings; and raised the status of this field of study.
“I am stepping down,” Lemish explained, “because I feel that the field has grown and developed so much that it needs to have a new infusion of younger leadership in the field, scholars who are more attuned to the new developments and new burning questions and methods, and who would take the journal to a new phase of development. I will remain as an editorial board member, and of course, always available to help Amy and Vikki if they want/need my advice.
“During my tenure as editor I insisted for ethical reasons that I should not publish any of my own research in the journal and would not have any of my own books reviewed in it. So I prevented myself from publishing in the most appropriate journal for my own work. I am now looking forward to being able to publish in JOCAM myself, and expect a very rigorous process of review that will help me improve my publications!”
The journal’s intended audience is mainly academic, Jordan and Lemish said, and while the vast majority are scholars of children and media, readers also come from other disciplines such as education, sociology of childhood, developmental psychology, gender studies, health, and new media. In addition, the journal also attracts journalists and public intellectuals that have an interest in some of the topics it covers, particularly the controversial ones, such as the impact social media on depression.
It's mission, written by Lemish in 2004 and maintained over the years, is to provide “. . .a space for discussion by scholars and professionals from around the world and across theoretical and empirical traditions who are engaged in the study of media in the lives of children and adolescents. . . It is a unique intellectual forum for the exchange of information about all forms and contents of media in regards to all aspects of children’s lives, and especially in three complementary realms: Children as consumers of media, representations of children in the media, and media organizations and productions for children as well as by them.”
In 2018, JOCAM was accepted for indexing in the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) and Journal Citation Reports and will receive Impact Factors. Explaining the reasons this is a significant achievement for the journal, Jordan and Lemish said, “There is a complicated vetting process to be included in these listings that are meant to guarantee high quality: These include, for example, the rigorous review process, the composition of the international editorial board, the regularity and scope of publication, the citations of the journal, etc. Being included in the SSCI and JCR signifies scholarly excellence. It also has practical consequences for us – many scholars prefer to publish in journals that are ranked, as those count more heavily in the promotion processes for some universities. We expect to see a significant rise in the number of submissions to the journal from diverse disciplines and in the quality of articles submitted.”
Looking to the future, Jordan said goals moving forward will be “to continue to carry out Dafna’s vision for a journal that represents the international community of children and media scholars. To this end, we continue to add members to the editorial board who are from places such as Peru and the Netherlands. We are receiving more submissions due to our SSCI rankings, and thus we are expanding our reviewer pool and attempting to expedite the process of the time it takes from submission to publication. But to be quite honest, both Vikki and I stepped into the journal when it was fully developed, well-known, and well-respected. Any changes that we take will be small ones. Dafna did all the hard work and we are well positioned to continue to ‘steer the ship’ in the direction she has set for us.”
Read our Q&A below with Jordan and Lemish and learn more about the history of the journal’s founding, how Lemish, Jordan and Katz met and began working together, and the many ways housing the journal at SC&I has a positive impact on the school.
SC&I: What factors inspired you to found the Journal of Children and Media?
Lemish: The Journal of Children and Media (JOCAM) was conceived in 2004 while walking along Liberty Bay, WA in the United States. Peter, my spouse, and I were spending our sabbatical nearby in the quaint village of Poulsbo. During one walk, I shared my frustrations regarding difficulties finding an appropriate home for much of my work. I was not engaged in developmental psychology, health or technological-focused research; rather qualitative, gender-focused, emotion- and identity-driven studies of children and media. It was one of those moments of intellectual and career reflection that the mental space provided by a sabbatical fosters. Peter, carefully listening to me, stopped us in our tracks and said – ‘So why don’t you establish such a journal?’ My response was quick and unequivocal: ‘Why not?’” (This is an excerpt from farewell commentary Lemish wrote titled “A Room of Our Own”: Farewell Comments on Editing the Journal of Children and Media. Published online December 21, 2018, her commentary will also be published in print in the journal’s first 2019 issue, volume 13, issue 1).
SC&I: How did the three of you meet and begin to work as co-editors?
Lemish: Amy and I first met in the mid 1990s when Amy organized a symposium on behalf of the Annenberg Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania focused on international perspectives on the effects of children and media. She invited me to come from Israel to Washington DC to contribute to the event. I was so impressed by her that over the years we continued to be in touch on and off over shared scholarly interests. At my request, Amy also served as a reviewer of one of my books and her feedback was transformative to my scholarly development. We re-connected more intensely when I established the journal and asked Amy to join as editor of the Review and Commentary section, which Amy wasn’t available to do at the time. But I continued to relentlessly court her.... she later agreed to be a fantastic guest editor for a special issue on media policy matters. Based on that experience I invited her to join as a co-editor in 2012. Both of us encountered Vikki independently, and gradually became impressed by her commitment to the field of children and media and her many talents, so when I started contemplating stepping down as editor, we both agreed that she would make the most perfect next co-editor. We had her join us as an associate editor for a year of mentorship and preparation for this transition.
SC&I: Has working on the journal changed since the three of you have worked together as faculty at SC&I?
Jordan and Lemish: The everyday work has not changed, as it is mostly done in the journal’s online platform. But the ability to consult and resolve issues on the spot in brief corridor conversations, and lengthier face-to-face meeting, as well as the strengthening of the personal relationships and deeper knowledge of each other’s interests and expertise has helped facilitate a joint vision for the journal and a smooth operation.
How does housing the journal at SC&I benefit the university, the school and students, faculty, and/or others?
Jordan and Lemish: Housing the only journal in the field at SC&I signals that we have a significant expertise here, including our recently created SC&I Youth Cluster. Every reader of the journal, every person submitting and article, and every reviewer is constantly reminded of this connection via the correspondence coming from a Rutgers email, from the website and inside cover of the information of the editorial team. The name recognition associated with Rutgers may have a long-term effect in drawing graduate students and faculty interested in this field of scholarship to the school. Finally, given the depth and breadth with which we are reading manuscripts being considered for and published in the journal, we bring into our classrooms a cutting-edge view of the field that is unique to those in editorial positions.
To learn more about the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at the Rutgers School of Communication and Information (SC&I), click here.
For additional information about SC&I’s Communication Department, click here.