I have a PhD in the fake-sounding field of Media Arts and Sciences from the MIT Media Lab, which is not only a lab, but also its own academic quasi-department. It's never been quite clear to me what the field really is, despite my fancy degree.
While at the Media Lab, I and some of my fellow graduate students
occasionally tried to take seriously the idea that we were founding a field and there should be some sort of intellectual core to it. This didn't really happen back then, and as far as I can tell it hasn't happened in the 25 years since I left.
That's not to say there isn't some really excellent and important work done there (as well as some not so great); just that there is no real unifying theme or core ideas. Back then the gamut of research activities ran from digital holography to documentary film; today it includes all that and neurobiology and agriculture (sort of) and public policy. This is all very exciting but what ties it all together, other than coolness?
What the Media Lab excelled in back then was pushing digital technology into places where it had yet to invade (such as newspapers – this was pre-web). And more importantly, figuring out ways to get funded by these industries that didn't have one clue about research or digital technology. I imagine it's a lot harder to do that today, given that we are several stages further into the digital transformation of everything.
The real strength of the place likes is being interdisciplinary, because that's a much more fruitful zone for innovation than within an established discipline. It's a bolder, more exciting, and more risky way to do research. So not having an intellectual core is actually something of a plus. Why would you want to give the field a rigid definition? (See illegibility) Certainly that was the most attractive feature of the place for me, I had a shit-ton of intellectual freedom there, for better or worse.
The lack of a formal definition of Media Science didn't bother me one bit at the time, and now it's only a minor annoyance in that I have to explain it to be people all the time. But it might hint at larger problems of mission in the lab, which seemed to lose its way and as a result got mired in scandal. That was long after I had left, thankfully.