Media and Information Professor David Ewoldsen, Ph.D., joins a team of editors (Natascha Just, Chul-joo “CJ” Lee, Karen Tenenboim) on his fourth renowned communication journal. The team will publish their first issue of the Journal of Communication in early 2023.
Professor David Ewoldsen surrounds himself with words and ideas.
The walls in his office are lined floor to ceiling with books — to the great amusement of students, who frequently question why he doesn’t simply invest in e-books. Ewoldsen’s response: “Well, I read a lot of e-books, too.”
His books (or perhaps the ideas within) helped him set a record for the most hours of detention in junior high. “I argued with the teacher,” he explained. “We had to bring in a book to read every day, and I was reading Marx’s Communist Manifesto. He gave me detention every day I brought it in; it was quite a standstill for a while.”
Ewoldsen’s hunger for the words and ideas capable of influencing society has only grown. Now, he is preparing to carry the torch as an editor of the Journal of Communication (JOC), the flagship journal of the International Communication Association.
This is not an entirely new experience for Ewoldsen, who is founding co-editor of Media Psychology, founding editor of Communication Methods and Measures, and founding editor of Annals of the International Communication Association — three successful, highly respected journals. What makes this experience unique for Ewoldsen: this is the first time he will take over a journal that already exists.
“There are parts of it that are intimidating,” Ewoldsen said. “When you start with a journal from the ground up, generally the expectation is it’s going to be at least a decade before it takes off. Whether the journal is going to end up being a top-tier journal is going to be decided in that that second ten years.”
Assembling a team
JOC and each of Ewoldsen’s three previous journals are currently ranked among the top 10% in the communication discipline. Maintaining the integrity of JOC is something Ewoldsen is committed to doing, and he will not be alone in those efforts. Three others will be signing on as co-editors with Ewoldsen: Natascha Just (University of Zurich), Chul-joo “CJ” Lee (Seoul National University) and Karen Tenenboim (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). This editorial team will begin accepting manuscripts for the journal September 1; their first issue will publish in 2023.
Ewoldsen is excited about the new editors and the perspectives they bring. “They are people whose opinions I greatly respect,” he said. “For me it was very important that [the journal] have a team so that we’re more diverse in our representation of the discipline. One of the things that has always bothered me is that it's the International Communication Association, but every editor of JOC has been at a U.S. institution.”
Another reason for assembling a team of editors at JOC is the sheer number of manuscripts to review, which Ewoldsen noted are up to about 1,000 submissions annually. That translates to a lot of reading, perfectly suited for someone who spends their time immersed in words and ideas. “I read each manuscript in its entirety — actually, most manuscripts I’ll end up reading two or three times before it’s published,” he said.
Words of wisdom
Becoming a renowned editor, researcher, scholar and professor is certainly a big leap from his days of detention and sneaking into his brother’s room to read books on the civil rights movement. Those experiences and everything in between nevertheless shaped Ewoldsen and his values. He feels fortunate for the many opportunities he has been given throughout his life.
“I’m a kid from rural Minnesota and Iowa; I grew up detasseling corn. This isn’t anything I ever thought I would be doing. I've been very lucky that all the journals have done very well. I think a part of it is that I try as best I can to view the editing as something that I owe the discipline, and to treat people with respect and spend time on it.”
Mild feelings of impostor-syndrome aside, Ewoldsen hopes his students recognize one important message: “You can have larger impacts than you think you can have. You never know when opportunities are going to arise, and what you want to do is believe in yourself enough to take the risk.”
Behind him hangs a portrait he commissioned of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King; two steadfast reminders of the impact an individual can have on the world … and the work yet to be done.
By Jessica Mussell