Fred Newton Scott’s Department of Rhetoric and Journalism

The unusual department chaired by Fred Newton Scott at the University of Michigan in the early 1900s offers insight into the compatibility of rhetoric and journalism as academic subjects. Though Scott’s Platonic rhetoric ultimately did not prove a good fit for journalism, the limitations of his theory may suggest a corrective for potential future interdisciplinary collaborations, as journalists reinvent their profession amid new media and public forums. Aristotelian rhetoric could provide a better basis for preparing journalists and other citizens to invent and participate in new forums that question such long­standing journalistic boundaries as those between news and opinion or professional journalists and their audiences

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