I work in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. There are a lot of programs out there that include some form of mass communication in their title, either as singular or, oddly, plural. But how popular is the phrase? And is it changing over time? Glad you asked. Here I present a graph via the magic of Google of how often mass communication was mentioned in books.
As you can see, the phrase peaked in the 1950s, dipped but clawed its way back in the 1970s, then started a slow and seemingly inevitable decline.
As some of you know, I wrote a testy post some weeks back about the possibility of changing the name of our college. That was mostly about losing journalism (bad idea) or adding a long list of stuff after journalism (worse, given how badly written it would be, such as Journalism and Media, etc.). Here I present an argument for losing mass communication, undercutting my own position because I'm a data guy and the graphic above suggests our name is, well, kinda stuck in the 1950s. The mass communication part, mind you. Journalism stays until you pry the name out of my cold dead fingers.
Okay Hollander, but how about journalism? Isn't it dying? Below, the graphic is squeezed to fit given how long ago the word appears.
What does this really mean? Hard to say. This is, after all, merely mentions in books scanned by Google, but the data suggest quite strongly that mass communication as a phrase may have less meaning today and tomorrow. Journalism means something specific and, after all, Henry W. Grady was a journalism guy, but mass communication may be overdue for a change. The problem is, we end up with all these awful combinations of words to try and capture what it is we do in our college (essentially we teach students to inform, persuade, and entertain -- but that makes for a lousy college title).