A Message from the Book and Media Review Editor

James Linton (University of Windsor)

As the Canadian Journal of Communication masthead indicates, I have been appointed Book and Media Review Editor by the Board, taking over the duties from my colleague, Walt Romanow. This appointment makes me the third Book Review Editor to hold office in the span of about seven years. Although I serve at the pleasure of the Board, of course, I have made a commitment to the post for the next few years, and trust that such a commitment will provide the stability and continuity that will enable the role of book reviews in the Journal to continue to grow and prosper.

During Walt Romanow's tenure, Gertrude Robinson as Journal Editor had agreed to publish 8 to 12 book reviews per issue. As I assume my duties, Gertrude and the Journal Board have agreed with my assessment of the need to expedite the reviewing process so that reviews are published in a more timely manner. Currently the length of time between the receipt of a book and the publication of a review of it averages eighteen months to two years, and in many instances, the period extends well beyond that timeframe. There are a variety of reasons why that has been the case, some of them systemic. It is my goal to reduce that period to eight or nine months so that readers can learn about significant books while they are still relatively new.

The realization of that goal will require the co-operation of many of the Journal's readers. First of all, we need individuals to volunteer as book reviewers. I am attempting to expand and diversify our pool of potential reviewers and have devised a Reviewer Sheet to gather the appropriate information to assist me in matching available books with suitable and dependable reviewers. If you have not completed and submitted such a form and are interested in being considered for reviews, please write, phone, fax or contact me by E-mail (as appropriate) to receive a copy of this form:
Department of Communication Studies University of Windsor Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4 Phone: (519) 253-4232, ext. 2904 Fax: (519) 973-7050 E-Mail: JML@UCC.UWINDSOR.CA

Secondly, we will require your commitment as we attempt to fine-tune the process so that reviews make their way through the system as expeditiously as possible. A backlog of reviews is required for each of the four issues that are published each year, and reviews must be received several months before the publication date in order to be considered for publication in a given issue. To facilitate this process, we are introducing a set of four fixed due dates for reviews: March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31. The exact due date for a given review will be based on the date the book is sent out, but the effect should be to reduce the average turnaround time for reviews from six to nine months to three to five months, a very common timeframe for review completion for many scholarly journals.

We will also require that potential reviewers respond promptly when queried about their interest in and availability to review a given book, especially if they are not able to do so, as another individual will have to be canvassed. Furthermore, when reviews are written, it will be necessary for reviewers to follow the provided instructions to the letter, including those about format, so that the demands on editorial and support staff can be kept to the necessary minimum.

In addition to agreeing to the above revision of the process, the Board has agreed to develop a set of priorities to assist the Book and Media Review Editor in selecting, in a more systematic way, the books to be reviewed from among all those received during the course of a year. Obvious emphasis should be placed on volumes on Canadian subjects, those by Canadian authors and those from Canadian publishers, as well as works that could be considered as significant texts for communication and media courses. Any comments or suggestions with regard to these and additional such priorities would be greatly appreciated by the Board and me.

In conjunction with this development, we will be introducing an "Other Books Received" or "Other Books of Interest" section, at the end of the book reviews, to list and give capsule descriptions of books that have been received but not reviewed, but which may be of some interest to some segment of the readership. Finally, we hope to be able to review films and videos on communication subjects more frequently, especially those relevant to the Canadian context and suitable for course and classroom utilization.

As we embark on these changes, I look forward to working with all of you who have an interest in making the Reviews section of the Journal as timely, lively, and informative as possible.

Jim Linton
University of Windsor



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