Take 5 Minutes to Help RMIG

By Rick Moore, RMIG Membership Coordinator & Professor of Communciation at Boise State University

With the recent stock market plunge, most of us witnessed something in journalism we have seen over and over again and have come to predict every time the Dow takes a dive. Typically, there are numerous news stories about how bad the damage was. Reports basically ask, “What portion of people’s retirement funds has somehow vanished with a puff of smoke (or, with a drop in oil revenues)?”  In addition to this, journalists sometimes try to make the audience feel better by explaining how many billions of dollars Bill Gates, or some other uber-rich citizen, lost in the most recent sell-off.  Finally, there’s often a news piece where reporters consult financial advisors to help readers determine how to react. The experts tend to say things as profound as “You should trust the system and assume we’ll get over this, but here are some things you can do right now.”

This might seem an odd way to introduce a newsletter story about the membership in a professional organization, but the direction I’m taking is probably obvious. Our interest group membership could be thought of like the stock market. It goes up, and down, sometimes precipitously. If you are curious about the most recent of plunges, the official numbers—kindly provided by Pamella Price at AEJMC—tell us that our membership dropped from 92 in 2014 to 85 in 2015. Thus, we experienced about an eight percent decline in one year.  If reading such bad news gives you a frisson, I might add that our all-time high for the last ten years was in 2007, when 133 persons deigned to check the box to add a few dollars to their membership bill and join RMIG.  Do the math and you realize that the number of members in our group dropped by about a third since then.

By the way, Pamella informed me that AEJMC as a whole has declined in numbers recently. I suppose my next task, then, is to make you feel better by telling you how much the extremely wealthy have been hurt by such a catastrophe. But, you probably realize that the Newspaper Division—377 members, by the way—is not going to be decommissioned anytime soon. And, you probably don’t want them to be. Many of you are members of numerous divisions and interest groups and want all of them to be as fruitful as possible.

So, the final obligatory element for this predictable news article about the slings and arrows of outrageous membership misfortune is the “What to do?” part.  Of course, the answer is rather trite. We need to do a better job of making people aware of our group.

I would like to propose here a few ways of doing that.

For example, I might note that many of us are working on putting the final touches on a paper we hope to submit to RMIG for the Minneapolis convention. In the process, have we encountered researchers who seem to do important research in religion and media but (as far as we know) are not members of our collective? Perhaps sending a quick e-mail to some of those scholars letting them know of the interest group would help our numbers.

In a similar vein, many of us are part of other professional organizations that might have members who are unaware that RMIG exists. Does that group have a Facebook page, or a listserv on which some kind of announcement could be placed?  At the group’s annual gatherings, is there a bulletin board where a simple announcement about the existence of our group could be placed?

Obviously, there are numerous other strategies available to us, and all of them could have the potential to “pay dividends,” or “increase our stock,” or, whatever silly economic metaphor you wish to use. The main message here is that, to a certain extent, we do have some ways of improving RMIG’s status. Yes, the market works in mysterious ways, but there is no mystery to the fact that we can do some things to improve our organization’s economic forecast.

I want to make you aware of an opportunity to join with a group of scholars who might have teaching and research interests that overlap with yours. The Religion and Media Interest Group is a dynamic group of academics and professionals within the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. It’s composed of individuals who think that understanding religious dimensions of mass communication are worth very serious consideration. Every year at the AEJMC conference they have research, teaching, and professional sessions within this broad area. They’d love for you to consider joining them. If you have interest in submitting a paper for the 2016 conference (Minneapolis), the call information is here.




If you would like more information about RMIG, feel free to contact Rick Moore (rmoore@boisestate.edu), the Membership Coordinator for the group.




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