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Writing and Re-Writing MTM3

i can’t believe that summer is nearly over.  i’ve spent a large part of it tied to my computer in my home office.  Steve Reese (U Texas-Austin) and i are finally writing the third edition of Mediating the Message.  we began this project when we were both assistant professors at UT in the late 1980s.  the first edition came out in 1991 published by Longman, and we wrote the second edition in 1996, also with Longman.

why did it take so long to do the third edition?  it’s a story about the dark underbelly of academic publishing, and so i tell you this story so the same thing won’t happen to you.

this was our first book, and we were thrilled that Longman wanted to publish it after seeing a sample chapter and a long proposal.  we happily signed their standard contract and went to work.  between our beginning the project and completing the second edition, Longman was bought by a larger publisher, and then an even larger publisher, and now is owned by a company that only wants to publish biology 101 texts that will sell many copies.  Longman began as an important part of the communication academic world, but it ended in a whimper.

the result was that the company refused our requests to work on the third edition in about 2000.  and they kept refusing every time we went back to them.  every time we contacted the company there was a new communication editor, so no one had an interest in us or our book.  the editorship was a rotating door.

our problem was that Longman owned the copyright to the book — in essence, the company owned our book and we could not just take it to another publisher.  we were stumped by this for a few years, and were busy on other projects at the time anyway.  but eventually, a couple of year ago, we were ready to just abandon the book title and propose a similar book (but updated) with another publisher.  at the last minute, i emailed the publisher yet again and flat out asked for the copyright back, reverted to us.  and amazingly, they agreed.

so the third edition of Mediating the Message is under contract to Routledge, which recently bought out Lawrence A Erlbaum, and so it is a major player in communication books.  i have two previous books with Routledge:  News Around the World, with Akiba Cohen, and Gatekeeping Theory, with Tim Vos.  it’s a good company to work with.

the second edition of MTM2 is out of print, but you can access it on the MTM website at Routledge.  

it’s been 15 years since we wrote the second edition.  just think about how the media world has changed since the mid 1990s!  so we are writing anew as much as we are revising the old text.  i had hoped to finish my half of the book this summer, but the huge size of the task soon became apparent.  as of now i have two chapter drafts that are each 80-90 pages long.  i’m hoping the other chapters will be shorter.

so that’s how i spent my summer vacation.  

nytimes.com will charge frequent visitors

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