JUMP CUT: A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY MEDIA is run on a nonprofit basis by its staff and is not affiliated with or supported by any institution. Begun in 1974 as a film publication, JUMP CUT now publishes material on film, television, video, new media, and related media and cultural analysis. As a print publication till 2001, JUMP CUT circulated 4000 copies per issue in North America and internationally to a wide range of readers including students, academics, media professionals, political activists, radicals interested in culture, film and video makers, and others interested in the radical analysis of mass culture and opposition media. Now, with free online access, our readership is much larger and more international.
General Editorial Policies
Taking an explicit political stand as a nonsectarian left, feminist, anti-racist and anti-imperialist publication, JUMP CUT is committed to presenting and developing media criticism which recognizes: (1) media in a social and political context; (2) the political and social needs and perspectives of people struggling for liberation — workers, women, oppressed minorities, people in the developing world, gays, lesbians and queers; (3) the interrelationship of class, race, and gender oppression; (4) new theoretical and analytic perspectives.
We stress contemporary media but we are open to publishing material on older films, tapes, and programs when the article involves a significant reevaluation or uses a well-known example to develop a critical or theoretical point. Our range is all types and forms of media from Hollywood's commercial dramatic narrative to independent documentary and experimental work. We are especially interested in neglected areas such as educational media, children's programs, animation, intermedia and mixed media, new technologies, consumer formats, etc., and related areas of radical cultural analysis such as photography and popular music. Back
Every issue of JUMP CUT has several standard features such as review essays, reports, editorials and so forth. In addition, most issues have one or more "special sections" which are thematically arranged and which run sequentially over several issues. Upcoming and ongoing special sections are listed in each issue.
Every issue of JUMP CUT has several standard features such as review essays, reports, editorials and so forth. In addition, most issues have one or more "special sections" which are thematically arranged and which often run sequentially over several issues.
1) Review essays
We place a premium on review essays covering works in current distribution, from the U.S. or abroad. Typically every issue covers several Hollywood features and broadcast TV programs. Such pieces are prominent in JUMP CUT and have the widest appeal to our readership. We see them as opportunities to develop a political and aesthetic analysis of the dominant cinema/TV in terms of current work which many people have seen. We encourage a variety of styles and approaches and will run more than one piece on the same work if the analyses warrant it. In other words, we don't assign exclusive reviews or preclude further articles because we've accepted one on a particular film, show, or DVD.
Our primary concern with review essays is that they provide thoughtful and provocative analysis. Because JUMP CUT is not a frequent publication, the typical journalistic consumer guide review has little appeal for us. We are not interested in reviews which are essentially no more than strong opinions forcefully expressed. We expect an analysis which discusses both the ideological nature of the work at hand and its artistic expression. Because even a fairly popular work may not have been seen by our many international readers, writers should not assume that everyone has seen the film/tape and should include enough detail to substantiate the analysis.
We are particularly wary of reviews of popular films and television which show the "bad" ideological message of a work and offer no explanation of why the work is appealing and successful with the mass audience — particularly when it seems the critic is putting him/herself above and apart from the general audience. In all cases we expect the writer to make clear the underlying political and aesthetic assumptions of her/his argument.
2) Independent Film and Video: Narrative, Documentary, Experimental
We are interested in reviews of new work, but also discussions of financing, production, distribution and exhibition of independent work. Discussions of feminist, Black, Latino, Asian, and LBGT work are especially welcome. We sometimes publish interviews with makers, but usually only along with an analytic article discussing the work. Writers should be aware that many of our readers may not have seen the film or tape being discussed, and thus should introduce and provide a context for the analysis. For example, issue-oriented documentaries often need an explanation of the issues and the history of organizing around the concerns. Reviews of such works often benefit from the reviewer showing them to different groups and seeing the responses. Similarly, because many of our readers are unfamiliar with contemporary avant garde media, giving an aesthetic, historical, and/or institutional context for such work is often helpful.
3) International Film and Video
Reviews of specific works or groups of work, and reports on national cinemas and televisions is always of interest to us. We are interested in the use and development of new technologies and consumer formats, such as online and streaming distribution. While our primary concern is with the critique of global neoliberalism and films and tapes in liberation struggles, particularly in the current hot spots of US imperialism — Latin America, Africa, the Middle East — we are also concerned with the entire range of national production from the commercial and entertainment media to the state sponsored and subsidized and independent sectors. The development of media after socialist revolutions, from the Bolsheviks to the present, is also an ongoing concern, as is media production in the former socialist states.
4) New Media Theory
We have a long standing interest in developing a more rigorous and sophisticated left media theory. We are concerned with theoretical work which shows an awareness of socialist, feminist, queer, anti-racist, and anti-imperialist concerns as well as post-structuralist approaches. Because we find much recent theoretical writing academic and elitist in the worst sense, we encourage work that can bridge the gap between pioneering new insights and addressing our broad readership. Case studies that can demonstrate new methodologies in accessible language reach many of our readers. We are also especially interested in introducing major thinkers and trends in left cultural analysis with extended reviews of various works, survey articles, etc. New radical work being done in other disciplines and specialties such as art history and criticism, cultural anthropology, sociology, area studies, etc. interest us.
We regularly publish special bibliographies, filmographies, documents, data, etc. pertaining to our editorial goals.
We cover significant radical culture, art, and media conferences, organizing efforts, retrospectives, etc. We do not run reports on routine festivals; don't bother to ask us for a letter to get a press pass.
7) Critical Dialogue
This is a forum for substantive discussion of topics raised in previous issues.
8) Media Salad
We try to give short descriptive and evaluative notices for films, tapes, books, magazines, festival and exhibition catalogues, and other materials which are especially pertinent to our declared range of interests. Usually these are written by members of the editorial board. We welcome having new items brought to our attention.
We do not make an effort to cover all the significant media books since other publications cover the territory. We are especially interested in reviews of individual books or groups of books which can be occasions for critically discussing a particular topic: for example, a review of several books on film melodrama and soap opera could discuss the development of genre analysis and feminist theory. Query the editors if you are interested in doing a book review.
10) Media use and pedagogy
Reports and reflections on media in and out of the classroom; media in consciousness raising and organizing.
11) Visual material
Photo essays, computer graphics, cartoons, etc. are always welcome. Submit online. We cannot pay visual artists (or writers), but we will try to meet unusual expenses if the work is accepted. Back
JUMP CUT's readership is very diverse, and we want what we publish to be accessible to the largest number of our readers. You should assume that the reader has an interest in your subject, a basic vocabulary of media terms (for example, knows what a jump cut is), but no specialized knowledge. This is not to say you can't be theoretical and intricate, but it is to say you shouldn't be esoteric or pedantic. If it's worth saying, it can be made reasonably understandable.
JUMP CUT is a nonsectarian left and feminist publication, open to a variety of left interpretations and to criticism which may not be explicitly left but which contributes to the development of a vigorous political media criticism. In terms of explicit political points, we want writers to clearly and fairly present both the views expressed in the work reviewed and their own position. As much as possible, political concepts should be defined or made clear in the context so they do not read like jargon or sloganeering.
Writing for an International Audience
If you would like to submit an essay to JUMP CUT, imagine your readers include a college student in Japan, a film programmer in South Africa, a film festival organizer in Rio, a journalist in Baghdad, a film professor in Poland, a film fan in Dublin, and you want to write to allof them. Can they follow your ideas and argument? Check yourself on current topical and colloquial and slang usage. Can be understood by an international readership which is often using English as a second or third language? You can be informal but still make it clear in context and often with a few more words explain the hip usage. Remember too that five years from now someone who is 18 and reading your article will have been only 13 when it was first published and not aware of some event you mention in passing. Back
Submissions should be by email to the three co-editors. We prefer MS Word .doc files or .rtf format files. You should receive an acknowledgment within ten days of receipt. If you don't, feel free to ask. We will not accept manuscripts that are being considered elsewhere; if we are considering a piece, it should not be submitted to another publication.
Submissions are read by the editors and circulated to some members of the editorial board. The co-editors have to approve of everything that goes in; the other people's comments are advisory. On a few occasions we may get an outside reader. If we reject, it is usually with comments, so you should get some feedback. Almost everything accepted goes back for revision. This process can take 3-6 months and sometimes longer. If you wonder what's happening, ask. JUMP CUT is a labor of love and commitment and the editors have other jobs and responsibilities. We sometimes get behind.
Our guiding principle regarding revisions is to be faithful to the writer's aims while being responsible to our readers. Most of our comments will be along the lines of clarity and readability. After a manuscript is returned to us, it will be given a final style edit which will be sent to the author before publication. Back
A guide to instant self-editing
Many JUMP CUT writers repeat the same writing problems. This guide points out some of the most common errors and suggests emergency corrections. Reading online lends itself to much shorter paragraphs than print.
Excessive passive construction
You can quickly identify passive verb forms, a common problem in academic writing, by "to be" verbs before a form of the main verb. Often used to avoid "I," they slow down your writing, sound unnatural, and rob verbs of impact. Active verbs help readers, provide variety, and add punch. Underline every passive construction and try to limit yourself to one per paragraph on rewriting.
Failure to use the first person
Passive construction and the coy use of "one," "the author," etc. are evasive and lack personality. Use "I" to speak of yourself and "we" to refer to what you, as writer, and the reader can do together. (E.g., "I will argue..." or "From this we can see....") Obviously, co-authored articles are an exception.
Pay attention to the difference between precision and mealy-mouthed qualification. Be careful in using "might," "should," "often," "would seem," "perhaps," etc. Excessive qualification makes you look timid and your argument halfhearted.
Excess prepositional phrases
Strings of prepositions slow down your writing; you can reduce them by using possessives, adverbs, and adjectives to make the same point. Put brackets around each prepositional phrase and see how many you can eliminate.
Arch terms, translations, and unclear neologisms
"Nuance" as a verb is an anglicism that sounds pretentious to US ears and destroys your credibility, as do other words our readers don't commonly use in speaking. Check you vocabulary against mundane general usage; if it seems unusual, see if you're gaining anything by using it. For example, the figurative use of "foreground" as a verb seldom means more than the everyday verb "to emphasize." ("Privilege," "articulate," "inflect," as verbs are similarly questionable.) The literal translation of foreign critical terms without explanation (e.g., "overdetermination," "difference," "problematic" as a noun) confuses earnest readers who want to understand what you have to say but don't have a pass key to the concepts. Similarly, casual and careless use of critical terms which represent major (and often debated) concepts inhibits clear communication (e.g., "Brechtian" and "distanciation" must be used precisely). Use neologisms only if they clarify and enhance the meaning.
Complicated clause construction
The "German" sentence rarely contributes to meaning in English. Wordiness is bad — always.
Stand back from your writing and look for tired and trite expressions such as: "intensely personal," "the bottom line," "there are a number of" (for "numerous").
While we are always ready to help nonnative speakers of English get articles in shape, we have little time for interesting pieces with severe style problems from native speakers. It's up to the writer. Any standard college composition and grammar book will elaborate on the above.
In general, we use the current edition of the Modern Language Association Style Manual, but we accept other recognized styles such as U. of Chicago, and American Psychological Association which are based on putting page references in the text and bibliography at the end of the article. For example:
In his article on psychedelic semiotics, Kleinhans asserts, "Barthes is far out!"(133). But he has also argued, "Barthes didn't know very much about dope." (Kleinhans 1968c, 12).
Where appropriate give original publication date so it doesn't look like Karl Marx wrote something a few years ago. Or that Gramsci and Stuart Hall were contemporaries.
Writers considering writing for JUMP CUT should look carefully at recent issues to see how articles incorporate images and captions. We use sixty or more images with captions for each essay. This amounts to a distinct visual analysis of the media under consideration. Our readers often look at this first as they decide whether or not to read an article. Gaining the ability to look at color images from a film, or a close analysis of a sequence, gives a reader a far better sense of the film or television program than text alone could ever do. We do not have the bandwidth to run videoclips but most readers of JUMP CUT find its visual analysis one of JUMP CUT’s greater strengths. Below we have an extensive section on how to do frame grabs for web publication. Back
Frame grabs and images from the Internet
A big advantage of online publishing is that we can publish a lot of images with captions with each essay, which makes a kind of sidebar visual analysis of the media written about and which engages readers immediately, often before they read the text. We publish sixty to seventy images with each article. Some of those images come from the Internet, most are frame grabs from DVD. In terms of doing frame grabs, you can easily do this with the instructions below, and often have access to a multimedia center at a school or a computer geek friend who will help you. Here are some instructions on doing it yourself.
The easiest form of image capture is to do frame grabs is with a DVD player on your computer that lets you "snap" images with a keystroke command while the image is playing from the DVD. On a PC, some DVD-video “players” let you capture stills, often with a little camera icon in the video/DVD player menu bar.
The best way to do this is with a freeware program called VLC, for an onscreen player, which works no matter what system you are running, Mac or PC. Get the VLC program as a download on the Internet http://www.videolan.org/
Macintosh use of VLC
If you use a Mac, first go to Preferences in your own computer system, then to DVD, and indicate that no player will be the default to start running when you insert a DVD. Then open VLC. Go to Preferences in the VLC application and select “Video” and go to “Video Snapshots.” First, tick the box labeled "Sequential Numbering," which will add a number to your file name and increase it each time you take a snapshot. In the "Prefix" blank, you can type the film's title (or any other text) and it will be added to the start of your file names. The "Folder" blank determines which folder your images will be saved in. Click the "Browse" button next to that blank to select a folder on your disk where you'd like your images to reside. The "Format" choice is either PNG or JPG (that is, JPEG); PNG gives slightly better quality.
Go back to the Menu bar and under window, select minimize window. (Keystrokes Command+M will do this while playing; snapshots are saved in the same size no matter what size the window.)
Then put in the DVD, and under the menu “File” on VLC, select “Open Disc.” Play the movie. Find an image you want to take a snapshot of. Then pause the DVD image on the VLC player.
There are a number of ways to take a snapshot of the paused image. Within VLC is a snapshot function, a keystroke combination: Command+Option+S. Within the Macintosh operating system, there is a keystroke command for screen capture: Command+Shift+4. Drag the crosshairs over the image and it will be saved to your desktop.
You can also create a screen photo with the Mac program called "Grab," which is an application that comes with System X. Use "Selection" in the menu bar and drag across the area you want an image of. A snapshot will appear. Using keystroke Command+S (Save) indicate what to call the image (perhaps film title abbreviation + number) and where to save it (perhaps on desktop)
Another way to do this is by a Dashboard Widget, Screenshot Plus, that you can download for free from Apple's website:
Note: if you are using this widget for snapshots, you may not have to download VLC but could use it with the Mac's built-in DVD plyer.
PC instructions for VLC
In the VLC Tools menu, open “Preferences,” go to “Video” and then “Video Snapshots.” First, tick the box labeled "Sequential Numbering," which will add a number to your file name and increase it each time you take a snapshot. In the "Prefix" blank, you can type the film's title (or any other text) and it will be added to the start of your file names. The "Directory" blank determines which folder your images will be saved in. Click the "Browse" button next to that blank to select a folder on your disk where you'd like your images to reside. The "Format" choice is either PNG or JPG (that is, JPEG); PNG gives slightly better quality.
Then put in the DVD, and under the menu “File” on VLC, select “Open Disc.” Play the movie. Find an image you want to take a snapshot of. Then pause the DVD image on the VLC player.
To take a snapshot of the video displayed by VLC, you just need to press the pre-defined snapshot hotkey. In Windows, this is Shift+S.
If you have any problems seeing your captured images, double check your settings for location under “Preferences” (see above), close VLC and then reopen it. This should “cement” your settings.
Refining the image — optional
If you want to further refine your image, an inexpensive shareware program for the Mac is Graphic Converter, that can be downloaded from <http://www.lemkesoft.de/en/>. You can also find other cheap image programs to try out at two of the most popular free and shareware sites that are reputable and secure:
In Graphic Converter, you do not have to adjust the "look" of the image, but if you want to, you can go to the Edit menu to adjust brightness and contrast, usually done with a little slider. What you do need to do is adjust size and resolution. Set the image size according to width, 5", keeping height and width to scale proportionately. Set the resolution for 72 dpi. It is important to control the final size of the image file. (Note that iPhoto on the Mac does not allow you to control the size of the saved image file and so is not useful here.) For final publication, we need an image approximately five inches wide, in JPG format. We can process the image to the correct dimensions and file size here. Graphic Converter and Adobe Photoshop have a great save format, called Save for Web, that reduces the k per image a lot. When you use Graphic Converter's Save As or Save for Web command and indicate that you want to save in the JPG format, you can click on Options. A little slider tells the size in k of the image at a given degree of compression.
Writing captions and sending images and text
We can use seventy or even more images with captions per essay. The captions should be conceptual, related to the content of your essay. Things to put in the captions are issues related to narrative, visual style, what's on the sound track, character development, and a wide range of social issues addressed by the work. Also, your captions make our inclusion of the images "fair use."
Send the images to Julia Lesage as email attachments or on a CD/DVD.
Postal address for sending CD or DVD: Julia Lesage, 3480 Mill Street, Eugene OR 97405.
If sending the images via mail, try to make the total size of an email no more than 1 meg—about ten images of 100k as attachments.
Number the images and send another attachment, in word .doc or .rtf format, of the captions for each image.
If you are sending me images taken from the Internet, resizing graphics from the Internet can be tricky. If you want me to use Internet sites for graphics, just email Julia Lesage the URLs and let her know which images to use. Also include captions for these.
We need a bio from you. It should be several paragraphs and it can include links to film sites you find useful or sites that relate to your essay or that you just think are interesting. Such an inclusion of additional online information again is one of the big advantages of web publishing. For the links, give the complete web address and a brief annotation. Also give your email address if you want folks to get in touch with you.
We will break up your essay into "pages" electronically which are linked together, and the way the page breaks come depends on file size more than anything else. For this reason, it helps if you have subheads in your text, since we prefer to make these electronic page divisions at a subhead. We will generally put the images at the top of the page since this lures readers in and gives them a rapid sense of the content and tone of the page. We assume that readers who are hooked into the essay will probably print it out to read and save. That is why we also have a text version for easy printing. If it is important to have an image come at a specific juncture in your text, we can arrange to do that. However, each web browser displays content somewhat differently, so the image in this case can come near where you want it, but not exactly the same for each reader.
In terms of writing, it is very hard for people to scan long paragraphs online, so please break up your writing into shorter paragraphs. Also, please avoid semicolons and long sentences. Shorter sentences are easier to read online. Because you can use lots of images, you can cut down on prose length where possible and refer to a picture and caption that make your point most succinctly.
Please send your essay in .doc or .rtf format.
Finally, for those of you who are baffled by all of this and do not have an AV person at work or school, or an electronic nerd friend to help you out, you can send stills or your original tapes or DVDs, and we can make digital stills for you. That means you would have to send your original source material through the mail. We have never had any problems losing tapes or pictures in the mail, but it is up to you. Back
In academic promotion and tenure cases, questions are often asked about the review process for manuscripts. JUMP CUT is a refereed journal with each submission circulating between the three editors and relevant members of the editorial board. Writers make changes both in terms of the intellectual argument and the prose style. Back
John Hess — John Hess taught film studies as a contingent faculty member at Sonoma State University, San Francisco State University (14 years), the University of Maryland and American University. Along the way he taught as an Associate Professor on the tenure track at Ithaca College. While at SFSU, he participated in the successful effort to unionize the faculty in the California State University system. Thereafter he worked to organize the contingent faculty (full and part time temporary)and served in several elected and appointed leadership positions in the California Faculty Association (CFA). After returning to California from the East Coast in the late 90s, he worked as a staff member for the CFA for seven years, especially responsible for organizing the contingent faculty. He is now retired, but remains active in the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor (COCAL) and other political projects. In his role as film scholar and teacher, he specializes in the fiction and documentary cinemas from Latin American and other third world cinemas. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is a link to an interview Chuck, with help from Julia, did with the late film and videomaker Marlon Riggs — particularly on Ethnic Notions and Tongues Untied. It is part of a bibliography of articles by and about Marlon put together by Berkeley's Media Resource Center which has lots of good material and links to offer.
Edith Becker, Julianne Burton, Michelle Citron, Doug Eisenstark, Jane Gaines, Kathy Geritz, Deborah Holdstein, Ernie Larsen, Gina Marchetti, Sherry Millner, Manji Pendakur, Dana Polon, Mark Reid, B. Ruby Rich, Kimberly Safford, Robert Stam, Peter Steven, Tom Waugh, Claire Whitaker, Linda Williams Back
To send a manuscript, please submit to all three editors at the same time: