2014-15 Project Winners

Knight News Challenge Bridge Grants

Feed Alabama

Using Knight-supported Ushahidi, a mapping tool.

Chip Brantley and Scott Parrott | University of Alabama

Incorporating Public Lab into JMC Classroom Environmental Reporting: Applying Open-Source Tools to the Crooked River Project

Using tools from the Knight-funded Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science.

Susan Kirkman Zake | Kent State University


Bridge Grants

2012-13 Project Winners

Knight News Challenge Bridge Grants

Using Spot.Us to Develop the Next Generation of Public Records Journalists

Craig Freeman | Louisiana State University (Spot.Us)


OpenBlock Campus technology with SeedSpeak

Kristin Gilger | Arizona State University (OpenBlock)


Telling the Story of Our Community: SGFwiki.org

Jonathan Groves | Drury University (LocalWiki)


Distributive Journalism – a project using DocumentCloud

Sarah Maben | Tarleton State University (DocumentCloud)


@iPadJournos: Preparing the Next Generation of Mobile Multimedia Reporters via Stroome

Marcus Messner | Virginia Commonwealth University (Stroome)


NewsCloud software/platform developed to develop and sustain an interactive Website for campus and surrounding community

Anthony Moretti | Robert Morris University (NewsCloud)


Houston Eats: An Online Platform Mapping the Rich Culture and History of Food in the Nation’s Most Diverse City

Temple Northup | University of Houston (DocumentCloud)



Cindy Royal | Texas State University (Ushahidi)


Capstone Students Using Ushahidi and Mobile Media Toolkit to Train New Generation of Black Press

Ingrid Sturgis | Howard University (Ushahidi)


Bridge Grants

2011-12 Project Winners

Knight News Challenge Bridge Grants

Adopting Ushahidi for Crowdsourcing and Data Visualization: New paths for Event-mapping in Chile

This project will train journalism students into crowdsourcing and data visualization techniques and increase user engagement by adapting the Ushahidi platform into Km Cero, Chile’s most important non-profit, college-produced news web site. Run entirely by students and faculty members at Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile’s School of Journalism, Km Cero strives to produce high-quality online journalism geared towards young people by employing innovative news formats and content. The Ushahidi platform, thus, would allow our news outlet to reach those goals by enabling citizens and journalists to report and map important news events that take place in Chile, including street protests, natural catastrophes and crime. We seek funding to train students in the use of Ushahidi, customize the platform into Km Cero, and develop new journalistic projects based on the this Knight News Challenge project.

Ingrid Bachmann and Sebastian Valenzuela | Universidad Catolica de Chile

Kansan.com High School News Feed

The proposed project will establish a high school news and advertising feed on Kansan.com, the University Daily Kansan (UDK) website. The news feed will use Printcasting and FeedBrewer, which were developed with Knight New Challenge funding. The feed will: Provide Kansan.com readers with niche local, youth-oriented coverage from around the state; Broaden high school journalists’ audience and exposure; Stimulate mentoring relationships between UDK student and professional staff, and high school journalism programs; Generate ad revenue for participating high school journalism programs; and Provide Kansan.com with valuable audience data.

Peter Bobkowski, Assistant Professor | University of Kansas

CityCircles Light Rail Job Classifieds

This intention of the student collaborative project is to create a hyperlocal model that will support the future sustainability of the CityCircles mobile app. Arizona State University students have often expressed to educators that they must find a job along the light rail due to transportation constraints. Phoenix is geographically spread out, which creates challenges for people dependent upon public transportation. Thus, an app that focuses on job classifieds along the light rail will serve as information service and a potential future revenue stream for CityCircles.

Serena Carpenter and Nancie Dodge, | Arizona State University

Reporting from the Storm

We will use Ushadidi’s software platform as the end distribution tool for students covering the Oklahoma 2012 tornado season. This is a classroom — centered initiative that has the potential to spread into Oklahoma’s communities, weather institutions, and mass media outlets. Three journalism courses will be involved: Advanced multimedia journalism, community journalism, and a special topics course on mobile reporting. However, the purpose of the grant will target the development, implementation, and pedagogical support needed to bring Ushadidi into the advanced multimedia class. Community journalism students will develop the sources among Oklahoma communities and the storm chaser network already established in the state. This will provide the foundation of crowdsourcing that will make this effort meaningful to Oklahoma citizens. The advanced multimedia class will bring this information into our news website Oklahoma Routes. The mobile reporting class will provide news reports throughout the semester that will be presented within the website using the Ushadidi software.

Julie Jones, Associate Professor and John Schmeltzer, Engleman/Livermore Professor in Community Journalism | University of Oklahoma

OpenBlock Campus

OpenBlock Campus will bring hyperlocal news resources to Kent State University college campus. The OpenBlock software will be adapted to the main campus of Kent State University. Because Kent State is a public university, we will obtain much data in addition to the local information seen on OpenBlock. We plan to develop scrapers unique to the campus, ones that can find news articles and blogs mentioning Kent State, as well as data linked to campus classrooms and offices, such as professor schedules, curriculum vitae and course evaluations.

Jacqueline Marino, Assistant Professor | Kent State University

In-depth Reporting of Methamphetamine Production and Abuse in Oklahoma

The School of Media and Strategic Communications at Oklahoma State University would like to allow students a new, in-depth reporting platform that should greatly enhance their learning experience. We would like to use DocumentCloud to help students produce a series of stories on Oklahoma’s longtime, growing problem with methamphetamine production and abuse. We plan to work in conjunction with Oklahoma Watch, a nonprofit organization that does in-depth reporting. It has board members from across the state, and Jaclyn Cosgrove, one of its leading reporters, is a recent OSU graduate. OSU’s faculty also has strong ties to the Tulsa World and The Oklahoman, the state’s largest newspapers that also are involved with Oklahoma Watch.

Ray Murray, Associate Professor | Oklahoma State University

Telling Stories with Data: Life at a Hispanic Serving Institution

This project will develop a platform to support an ongoing course that focuses on data storytelling and visualizations based on the Knight-funded VIDI project. The initial project during its first semester would focus on the changing nature of the enrollment of Texas State University and it’s status as a Hispanic Serving Institution.

Cindy Royal, Associate Professor, and Jacie Yang, Assistant Professor | Texas State University

LarryvilleKU: Web and Mobile Application of OpenBlock to The Kansan

LarryvilleKU iTunes App | LarryvilleKU Google play Android App

This project utilizes OpenBlock, a hyper-local news and data platform developed through the Knight News Challenge. The purpose of this project is three-fold. First, the investigators propose to develop innovative ways of applying OpenBlock to The University Daily Kansan (the Kansan), a self-supporting, independent, student-run media operation at the University of Kansas. Second, the investigators aim to help other campus media that might be interested in incorporating OpenBlock to their sites by sharing via GitHub final computer code developed under this grant. Lastly, the investigators will develop a theoretical model identifying factors predictive of people’s participation in OpenBlock as well as an evaluation matrix to assess the application of OpenBlock to campus media. Thus the practical application of OpenBlock to the Kansan will generate scholarly papers on OpenBlock for campus media operations. This research team is well positioned to cover both practical and research aspects of the topic, as it includes a journalism professor whose research focuses on social and digital media and the General Manager and News Adviser, Sales and Marketing Adviser, and Web Editor of the Kansan.

Hyunjin Seo, Assistant Professor | The University of Kansas

Photojournalism and Social Engagement Tablet App

The College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (CoJMC) has just started a planning process to create a mobile tablet app to display its work, particularly its photojournalism. The college has an endowment to send students around the world to photograph the stories of people in need. The app will make these stories be more than photo stories; it will be information that prompts viewer action and engagement, using the capabilities of tablet applications. The app will be used to teach viewers about the problems of people in need around the world, and then help them engage with one another and with legislators who could help the people depicted. The app will enable the user to find Congressmen whose voting records show they want to help the people who are the subject of the photo stories. The online photo and story layouts will then be turned into an ebook and a premium print book.

Adam Wagler | University of Nebraska-Lincoln

@SDSU – Where’s the news?
Mobile Application for Mapping Civic and Public Service Issues on Campus and Beyond

AzteCast iTunes App | AzteCast Website

Tips for Educators from AzteCast — Here are some tips for making it work on your campus >>

The @SDSU (http://at.sdsu.edu) mobile news application is an innovative way of bringing civic and public service issues to a university campus and its surrounding neighborhoods. The application focuses on the importance of mapping the information of what is happening on campus to a specific geographic location. Specifically the information is focused on items that are important to a campus community (e.g. traffic, weather, crime, power outages, crises, violence, health pandemic, public safety, food safety, campus elections, campus events, etc.). The @SDSU mobile news application will be built off of the Knight News Challenge Ushahidi platform. The power of the Ushahidi platform is its ability to allow people to mobilize during a crisis using a mobile channel to provide information and map it to a specific area. The @SDSU mobile news application will use the Ushahidi platform to provide important information to students, faculty, staff and citizens living in nearby neighborhoods adjacent to the campus. Journalism students will use this tool for newsgathering and reporting of campus events but more importantly, use this as a tool to verify the information that is coming through the mobile application. A university safety committee (already in place) and journalism students will verify the information that is submitted into the system.

Amy Schmitz Weiss, Assistant Professor | San Diego State University


Bridge Grants

Tips from the AEJMC Teaching Committee

Enroll in Online Courses to Improve Teaching Skills

Leslie Jean ThorntonBy Leslie-Jean Thornton
AEJMC Standing Committee on Teaching
Associate Professor
Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Arizona State University


(Article courtesy of AEJMC News, September 2014 issue)

Class had begun when I’d clicked the “play” arrow a while earlier. The professor, an esteemed and personable scholar at a top-tier university, was making a complex and considered argument about an intriguing subject. Her words, though, were slipping by. I stopped the video several times, went back a few sentences, replayed, then replayed again.

I took notes to focus my attention, but… No. Not happening. I had to figure something out before her points stood a chance of sticking, and it wasn’t an abstruse point that needed clarification. It was something painfully mundane, in fact. Was her blouse buttoned incorrectly? Was the collar poorly constructed or was it supposed to look that way? Maybe the crookedness was an optical illusion? Fortunately, I could pause and ponder: chalk one up for recorded pedagogy. But first I did the equivalent of passing a note in class: I took a screenshot of the professor and her odd blouse and sent it to a friend.

Although I’m a professor and happily so, last semester I completed four MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses – as a student and I’m enrolled in three more. It’s safe to say I’m impressed and, perhaps, addicted. Much of what I’m learning, however, has less to do with mastering subjects than gaining insight into how I react as a student. By extension, I’m learning things to do and not do as a teacher. For starters, in my professor role, I’ve vowed never to wear puzzling clothes to class.

The anonymity of the MOOC plays to my dual-agenda advantage, freeing me to relate to the course simply as me, not as someone responsible for keeping up a public persona. In me-to-monitor sessions, unobserved, I am allowed degrees of focus that would be freaky in person. As a result, I can become intensely aware of my professors and the settings in which they are teaching. I’m free to acknowledge frustrations and distractions – to say “Argh!” out loud when needed. In the public forum “discussions” with fellow enrollees, a feature of many MOOCs, I can lurk as well as participate to get an idea of how the course is being received. Is my cohort on track or splintered into la-la land? I saw both, and I saw reasons for both.

I’ve gained a greater respect for students’ need for recognition. Over the years, as grading and feedback fatigue takes its toll, individual notice can recede – it takes concerted time and effort. As a MOOC student, I found myself yearning for attention, and that need awakened the professor side of me. If I had the choice now between making more assignments, thereby lessening the chance of feedback, or going for fewer and paying more attention, I’d go for the latter. I’m going to increase the number of “extra credit” assignments, too.

Here are some of the other top lessons I’ve learned from being in MOOCs:

Be highly aware of distractions. What’s written on the board or projected on the screen behind you? Are there hallway dramas visible from the class? Is the sun pouring in and hampering students’ ability to read your face as you speak? Is someone smacking gum? Don’t be so intent on your presentation that you allow such things to highjack or hamper your students’ progress.

Attention cycles matter. Timing matters. Emphasis matters. I was lucky to take a “bootcamp” in pedagogy when I began teaching at Arizona State. Ten years later, I remember what an instructor told us: after 45 minutes of listening nonstop to a lecture, learning goes in reverse. Alas, after one of my MOOCs, I truly believe. Take breaks. Diversify delivery. Emphasize points with something other than your voice – write on a board, hold something up, change where you stand. Take breaks, and encourage students to do the same. At home, plugged into my computer, I was nevertheless free to walk around while listening and set my own breaks. This helped me absorb the material. See what you can do to give your students absorption time, too.

Make-work assignments are deadly. Sure, they can reinforce a lesson point, but they build in resentment and demonstrate a lack of respect for the students’ time and effort. If a solid review of the material is necessary to bring a point or a skill home, or if simple practice is needed, at least say that. Better yet, try to incorporate that work into a meaningful assignment.

Once a bond breaks, it’s not easy to get it back. Attend to momentum. The best classes made me eager for the next ones by showing me I’d learned something and would soon be building on that knowledge. Connecting the classes is as important as connecting students to the classes. I don’t know how yet, but I’m going to be super attentive to what I teach just before and just after Thanksgiving break this year. No need to lose them in the home stretch.

It pays to switch perspectives. I recommend enrolling in a MOOC or two; you don’t have to finish… and you might discover a newfound appreciation for useful handouts, accessible material and inspirational professors. Oh, yes – and you might find inspiration itself.

Teaching Corner

NNED Breaking News

Journalism Educators use Tragedy in Ferguson, Mo. as Teachable Moment to Commend the Press, Condemn Arrests of Journalists and Remind the Public of the First Amendment’s Power

CONTACT: PAULA POINDEXTER, Texas-Austin, 2013-14 President of AEJMC • August 27, 2014
As the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer moved from a crime scene in the middle of a Ferguson, Mo., street to a secret grand jury comprised of nine whites and three blacks who will determine if the police officer will stand trial, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) commends the press for performing its watchdog role, condemns the Ferguson, Mo., police for abusing the press’ First Amendment freedoms and reminds everyone, regardless of color, education, age, gender, status or political affiliation, that the First Amendment safeguards the press’ right to report and citizens’ right to access news they should know.

The fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson was one of the biggest stories of summer 2014, certainly in terms of sustained 24/7 news coverage and social media postings. Those who followed the news witnessed events as they unfolded, from images of Brown’s body lying for hours in the street to peaceful protests that erupted into violence and vandalism, to local police wearing gas masks and pointing assault weapons as they sat atop armored vehicles that one might expect to see in news reports about war-torn areas—not middle-America suburbia. And, among the many disturbing words and images from Ferguson were reports of police arresting, confining and threatening journalists for doing their jobs. After the first arrests of journalists from the Washington Post and Huffington Post, CNN’s media critic and host of “Reliable Sources” reported that Ferguson police had arrested 11 journalists.

When police officers in Ferguson arrested journalists, they were not just interfering with journalists’ First Amendment rights, they were also interfering with what the authors of The Elements of Journalism described as information citizens need to be “free and self-governing.”

Only because of journalists could the tragic events in a poor and mostly African American St. Louis suburb, population 21,000, command the attention of the nation, the president, and the attorney general. That’s the power of the First Amendment and why it should never be obstructed by law enforcement or other government officials. The First Amendment both protects journalists’ freedom to report and makes it possible for citizens to have access to news from multiple sources. Even when the news is about tragic events like the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the news is ultimately empowering because it is information citizens living in a democracy need to be “free and self-governing.”

For more information regarding this AEJMC Presidential Statement, please contact Paula Poindexter, President of AEJMC, at paula.poindexter@austin.utexas.edu.

AEJMC (The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication) is a nonprofit, educational association of journalism and mass communication educators, students and media professionals. The Association’s mission is to advance education, foster scholarly research, cultivate better professional practice and promote the free flow of communication. To find out more about AEJMC, visit www.AEJMC.org.


AEJMC 14 Keynote Address

Montreal Keynote

Tips from the AEJMC Teaching Committee

Montreal: The Best Programming on Teaching at an AEJMC Conference

Linda AldoryBy Linda Aldoory
AEJMC Standing Committee on Teaching
Director, Horowitz Center for Health Literacy
Associate Professor, Behavioral & Community Health
School of Public Health
University of Maryland

(Article courtesy of AEJMC News, July 2014 issue)

When I was in graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, I started a newsletter for the graduate students in the College of Communication, and one of my first articles listed what I thought was the top five steps to better teaching. That was 1990, and I feel I have come full circle as I write this article describing what I think will be the top five teaching programs at AEJMC’s Conference this year in August in Montreal, Canada. Starting with number five…

(5) Pre-conference workshops! As custom dictates, the pre-conference options include several teaching topics, and this year, these collaborative workshops drill down into specific and current challenges. For example, a special workshop on Advertising Teaching by Sheri Broyles addresses the impact that technology and everyday culture has had on consumer buying behavior, and how to teach in order to “invite…interact…and engage” with consumers in today’s highly interactive and user generated online world. Another workshop is a “Teach-In” for school journalism educators and advisors. This will be an all-day event for secondary school and post-secondary journalism educators in the AEJMC conference host’s region. The workshop will be coordinated and hosted by the Scholastic Journalism Division, area professionals and professors from the host university (Concordia). Topics include student press freedom, diversity of story platforms and multimedia production. A unique pre-conference workshop will be focused on the effective use of adjuncts by journalism and mass communication programs to teach skills classes. Topics will include “how to guide adjuncts in syllabi development, grading and classroom management as well as how to hire, monitor and evaluate adjunct faculty to ensure high standards.”

(4) Wednesday’s highlighting of the “traditional” forms of communication! One panel called, “Using Television and Movies to Teach Students about Multicultural Connections and Diversity,” addresses race, gender, ethnicity and class issues in teaching. With television programming continually featuring stereotypes, the need to teach students about diversity and multiculturalism continues to grow. “Such instruction can be the catalyst for continued lifelong dialogue about discrimination, diversity and inclusion that hopefully will promote greater understanding,” according to panel organizers.

(3) Thursday’s cultural understandings for teaching race, gender, ethnicity and cultural diversity! For example, the panel titled, “International Engagement: Projects and Partnerships that Globalize Education,” will explore projects and strategic partnerships that allow educators to incorporate globalization and diversity that fosters cultural engagement. There will also be a special session honoring the 60th anniversary of “Brown v. Board of Education – Its Meaning: Yesterday, Today and in the Future.” According to planners, “While some have a very narrow definition of the historic 1954 Supreme Court decision, its reach is broad and not limited to K-12 schools. The decision overturned the Separate but Equal Doctrine established in 1896 by Plessy v. Ferguson, which by extension, makes Brown’s subtext justice and equality throughout the academy. This panel will explore the meaning of Brown, the status of African Americans in higher education, continued threats to Brown‘s essence and the future of AEJMC’s commitment to diversity.”

(2) Friday’s teaching innovations programming! The early morning session on “Teaching Innovations” reflects the framework for the day and showcases a panel of academic leaders who share their “inventive approaches to teaching journalism and mass communication in an age characterized by ever-changing technology, increasingly diverse classrooms and global publics.” A later session of the day, “A Year Through Glass: How We Used Google’s Newest Gadget in the Classroom,” features professors who were selected to test Google Glass during its beta phase.

And the Number One Choice in AEJMC Programming in Teaching…

(1) Teaching Plenary Session! Thursday, 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.   Are you one who resists or embraces online teaching? Regardless of your answer, online teaching is touted as the future of journalism and mass communication education, and this plenary offers understandings from national leadership and field experiences. The session, “The E-Learning Transformation: Promise and Challenge for Our Times,” features keynote speaker Larry Ragan, co-director for the Center for Online Innovation in Learning at Penn State University. Since 2008, Ragan has lead the design and development of Academic Outreach Faculty Development, which offers a range of professional development programming for World Campus and Penn State faculty preparing for online and continuing education teaching success. Ragan has also served as the co-director of the Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning, and as co-director and faculty of the EDUCAUSE Learning Technology Leadership program. The session will address issues such as increased access from students to the online classroom, systems that adapt to the learner, global enrollments, learning experiences delivered through mobile devices, defining the role of faculty in the blended and online classroom, controlling the development and delivery costs, and quality. Following Ragan’s remarks are panelists from the field—Sharon Bramlett-Solomon, Rosental Alves and James Hamilton—who will offer lessons learned and best practices for online learning within journalism and mass communication.


<<Teaching Corner

Participatory Journalism 2014 Abstracts

Clarifying Journalism’s Quantitative Turn: A Typology for Evaluating Data Journalism, Computational Journalism, and Computer-Assisted Reporting • Mark Coddington, University of Texas at Austin • As quantitative forms have become more prevalent in professional journalism, it has become increasingly important to classify and distinguish between them. This paper defines and compares three quantitative forms of journalism — computer-assisted reporting, data journalism, and computational journalism — and introduces a four-part typology to evaluate their epistemological and professional dimensions. The three practices are characterized as related but distinct approaches to integrating the values of open-source culture and social science with those of professional journalism.

Gender, social cue and interactivity in social media: Investigation of journalists’ social media use and credibility • Rosie Jahng, Hope College; Jeremy Littau, Lehigh University • This study examined the effect of social cues and interactivity in social media on journalists’ credibility based on literature of journalists’ credibility, social information processing theory (SIPT) and social presence theory. Results from a mixed-design experiment showed participants rated highly interactive journalists to be more credible than those who are less interactive in social media. Also, participants showed higher intention to engage and more positive attitude toward highly interactive journalists than less interactive journalists. Results are discussed in terms of theoretical implications for journalists’ credibility in social media, and practical applications for journalists seeking to utilize social media to engage with their audiences.

Exploring the Role of Political Discussion in Political Participation: Online versus Offline • Soo Yun Kim, University of Wisconsin-Madison • Widespread use of the Internet have lead to new forms of interpersonal communication, with a vast potential to reach young and geographically dispersed citizens; expanding earlier citizen communication habits that may not be reflected in the traditional media; and create new opportunities for citizens to form networks and take action to address many issues directly. Citizens now indeed have the advantage of technical proficiency in the online environments to facilitate their engagements with online political discussion and civic activities. Given that the dynamic nature of interpersonal political discussion as mobilizing force in politics is explicitly demonstrated in previous studies, this study takes a step further by exploring each of political participation activities one by one instead of using political participation as a single index. In addition, this study explores which of political discussion setting (i.e., offline vs. online) strongly predict political participation (i.e., offline and SNS). This study found that both online and offline political discussion was significant predictor for offline political participation and SNS political participation respectively.

Working together: Sharing as an emergent newsroom norm • Magda Konieczna • The economic crisis in news media has deepened and the internet has enabled greater interaction between producers of information. At the same time, the United States in particular has experienced dramatic growth of nonprofit news organizations, many of which base their newsroom processes on collaboration. This article uses participant observation to examine collaborative behaviors at three nonprofit news organizations. I use the data to illustrate three observations: 1) Collaboration actually breaks into four different types of behavior. 2) Collaborative behaviors, while differentiating nonprofits from commercial journalism from which they arose, also tie them into that same commercial structure. 3) Finally, I show how the type of collaboration imprints the collaborating organization. These results suggest that collaborative behaviors between nonprofits and the commercial media are an extension of past but frequently unacknowledged collaborative behaviors between traditional news organizations. And, finally, they suggest that editors have become increasingly comfortable with news coming from a broad range of sources.

Reciprocity and the News: The role of personal and social media reciprocity in news creation and consumption • Avery Holton, University of Utah; Mark Coddington, University of Texas at Austin; Seth Lewis, University of Minnesota; Homero Gil de Zuniga, University of Vienna • This study asks: As journalists and audiences increasingly interact via social spaces online, what role might reciprocity, as a key driver within online communities, play in stimulating audiences’ consumption and creation of content, including news content? A national survey finds that, while personal beliefs in reciprocity predict news consumption, it is reciprocity on social media that is associated not only with news consumption, but also with content creation, both for news and in general.

What’s in a Name? Making a Case for Collaborative Journalism • Shawn McIntosh, Columbia University • Definitions of terms such as participatory journalism and other variants reflect a need to clarify conceptually what some of the underlying transformational dynamics are in journalism today. I argue that the term collaborative journalism is best equipped to reframe the debate, avoiding the conceptual blind spots shared by these other terms, and will help us better understand changing journalistic norms and practices that can lead to a more active citizenry in the networked public sphere.

Democratic Mobilization through #Gosnell: Twitter as Public Sphere and Realm of the FIfth Estate • Michael Jezewak, Loyola Marymount University; Gwyneth Mellinger, Xavier University • The national news media’s initial failure to cover the criminal case of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell triggered an activist response on Twitter. Using the hashtag #Gosnell, pro-life and pro-choice advocates debated the newsworthiness of the case and drew the national media’s attention to the trial. In addition to resetting the media agenda, #Gosnell constructed a Habermasian public sphere and, per Hallin’s theory, redefined an issue of deviance as a matter of legitimate controversy.

The Social News System: Examining the Relationship between Psychological Sense of Community, Social Network Site Use, and News Sharing Behaviors • Natalie Olsen, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities • News has long been understood as central to community functioning and a healthy democratic society. As community and news engagement transition to online venues, research must examine this relationship within social media. This study proposes and tests a new theoretical model that enables us to identify the roles that overall news consumption, SNS perceptions and behaviors, and PSOC play (both directly and indirectly) in encouraging audience members to share news stories on social network sites.

Framing citizen activism: A comparative study of the CGNET Swara and Mobile Voices projects • Paromita Pain, The University of Texas at Austin • The CGNET Swara (India) and Mobile Voices (United States) demonstrate that dedicated citizen journalism outlets can effectively combine journalism and activism to mobilize communities for positive social impact. Few studies have compared citizen journalism effects in the area of mobilization across countries, in multi-cultural settings, especially in the developed and developing world. This paper compares and contrasts conceptual frames employed and approaches pursued in fundamentally different settings to examine how citizen media works for progressive change.

reddit and the Boston Bombings: The Entextualization of a Witch-Hunt • Noah Springer, University of Colorado, Boulder • The social news website www.reddit.com played an instrumental role in the release of the suspects of the bombings during the Boston Marathon in April, 2012. This paper provides a linguistic analysis of how reddit identified the wrong suspects in the case, and examines how redditors “entextualized” this content in order to determine the meaning of how reddit users identified and prosecuted an innocent man. Specifically, this paper first examines various understandings of digital media, including Marshall McLuhan’s “global village,” Donna Haraway’s “cyborg,” and Jürgen Habermas’s “public sphere.” I then explore the various “entextualizations” of the Boston bombing case within reddit, specifically looking at how the decontextualization and recontextualization of the tragedy created room for a performative self-critique within the site. I conclude with a brief discussion of how the discourse surrounding the events in Boston show how reddit functions and fails to function as a global village, cyborg and public sphere.

Hyperlocal with a mission; Motivation, strategy, and civic function • Marco Van Kerkhoven, Utrecht, School of Journalism; Klaus Schoenbach; Piet Bakker, Utrecht School of Journalism • Independent online news start-ups seem to gain ground in local news ecosystems. To what extend they demonstrate to be a sustainable asset remains to be seen. Based on content analyses of 123 local news websites and 74 interviews with owners of these so-called hyperlocals in the Netherlands, we explored their motivation, their editorial and organisational strategy, and how hyperlocals effectuate their civic function in the community. Results indicate that the motivation to start a local online news website is for the better part grounded in the perception of a local news gap. But we also found sites predominantly motivated by commercial objectives. In all cases a common business strategy, however, is owners operating the service on a “no-staff, no-budget” basis. Most sites rely on banner advertising. Crowd funding has been tried on a small scale. In terms of strategy and claimed civic role there are only few differences between ideologically non-profit hyperlocals and commercial chains. But many sites underperform in terms of efficient use of resources, attracting readers and advertisers and the way they connect with sources and audiences. The sustainability of local news websites, therefore, is far from secured.

Self-Governance on Trial: A Public Sphere Analysis of News Website Forum Comments • David Wolfgang, University of Missouri • The online public sphere offers an opportunity to pursue self-governance through rational-critical discourse. This article studies two online news forums and the types of content produced based on the structure of the forum. Ultimately, forums allowing pseudonyms led to comments with more reasoned positions and use of supporting facts. However, neither the pseudonymous nor identified forums included constructive dialogue. News forums might need to restructure in order to promote consensus building and constructive dialogue.

2014 Abstracts

Commission on the Status of Women 2014 Abstracts

Good Green Mothers: First Time Expectant Mothers’ Views on Environmental Consumption Pre- and Post- Partum • Niveen AbiGhannam, University of Texas at Austin; Lucy Atkinson • Our interest in this study is exploring the experience of women who opt for environmentally conscious approaches to pregnancy. The study will focus on how these non-conforming mothers navigate environmental risk, and how they balance dominant mothering discourses with their own sense of what it means to be a mother and the kind of pregnancy and delivery they seek. These relationships are examined in the context of information seeking and sharing communication theories.

Victimized on plain sites: Social and alternative media’s impact on the Steubenville rape case • Cory Armstrong; Kevin Hull, University of Florida; Lynsey Saunders, University of Florida • This study employs a content analysis of the Steubenville (Ohio) sexual assault case to explore the mainstream media characterization of the victim and perpetrators. Researchers examined articles from local news agencies (n= 422) and national news agencies (n= 156) to answer the overall research question centering on how new technology is being employed as sources by traditional media sources. The results outline implications for scholars and practitioners as it relates social media sources shaping the narrative characterizing the victim and perpetrators.

No Woman, No Cry: Gender and Emotional Management in U.S. Electoral Politics • Ingrid Bachmann, Catholic University of Chile • The role of a political leader often is associated with the emotional attributes of a man. This discourse analysis examines the media constructions of Hillary Clinton’s emotionality during her bid for the 2008 Democratic nomination. Clinton was described mainly as a cold and unsympathetic contender, an unwomanly woman with too much ambition, and either as fake or frail when being more emotionally open. The media thus favored determined understandings regarding women, politics and emotions.

The Everlasting Damsel in Distress?: Analyzing the evolution of the female Disney character over time • Lisa van Kessel, Radboud University Nijmegen; Serena Daalmans, Radboud University Nijmegen • The current study analyzes the evolution of female Disney characters over time, from Disney’s Snow White from 1937 to Disney/Pixar’s Brave from 2012. Gender role representations of the characters from twenty-three features (that included a human female lead or secondary character) were examined in a qualitative content analysis focused on the manifest level (representation of behaviors, goals) as well as a latent level (gender related norms and values). Results suggest that on a manifest level significant changes have occurred in how female characters have been presented over time, i.e. female characters have grown to have more agency and are less preoccupied with love as a primary goal, though these changes are not linear. Results on a latent level suggest that more stereotyped gendered norms and values have not disappeared but are now incorporated in the narrative in secondary rather than primary characters. Overall, results do seem to indicate that Disney’s representation of female (lead) characters are slowly becoming less stereotyped, most prominently so in the case of Brave’s Merida.

“Wendy and the Boys:” Having it All on the Texas Campaign Trail • Shugofa Dastgeer, Graduate student at the University of Oklahoma; Desiree Hill, University of Oklahoma • This study content analyzed news headlines on the Texas female candidate for governor, Wendy Davis, in the 2014 elections. The results demonstrate more than half of the news headlines had a neutral tone toward Davis, and less than one-fourth of the headlines were negative and positive each. While a large number of neutral headlines shows progress for female candidates, a significant number of the headlines treat Davis as a celebrity.

Creative women in Swedish advertising and the case for systemic scarcity • Jean Grow, Marquette University • This research explores the experiences of ten Swedish advertising creative directors. In-depth interviews are framed by Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity. Findings suggest that gender-neutral Swedish cultural norms and values have limited influence on the culture within advertising creative. Data highlight provocative insights about systemic power and constraints women face, suggesting that female creatives across the world most likely face roadblocks to advancement that are far more systemically embedded than may have been previously understood.

Walk like a man: A content analysis of anti-sexual assault websites for men • Leslie Howerton, University of Oregon • This study examines four websites that target men with anti-sexual assault messages. The theoretical framework used for this research is rape myth acceptance theory and the Acceptance of Modern Myths about Sexual Aggression scale (AMMSA). Content analysis was conducted on two websites that use traditionally masculine approaches and two websites that use androgyny advocacy approaches. All four websites contained gender stereotypes, rape myths and sexual concepts consistent with rape myth acceptance theory. The messages on these sites may explicitly endorse an anti-sexual assault agenda, but the text and images contain gender stereotypes and rape myth functions that undermine the websites’ purpose and perpetuate rape myth acceptance.

Attention to Heterosexual Scripts in Magazines: Factors associated with Intentions to Sexually Coerce or Intervene • Stacey J.T. Hust, The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, Washington State University; Kathleen Rodgers, Human Development, Washington State University; Stephanie Ebreo, Washington State University; Whitney Stefani, Washington State University • Sexual coercion has gained researchers’ attention as an underreported form of sexual abuse or harm (Adams-Curtis & Forbes, 2004). The percentage of male and female college students who reported engaging in sexual coercion was as high as 82% for verbally coercive behaviors over the course of a year (Shook, Gerrity, Jurich, & Segrist, 2000). Guided by heterosexual scripting theory and the Integrated Model of Behavioral Prediction, we examine young college students’ beliefs about rape myth acceptance, perceived norms related to perpetration and intervention of sexual coercion, dating violence efficacy, and then exposure to men’s and women’s magazines in relation to intention to use coercive tactics in dating relationships, and intentions to intervene with friends who use coercive tactics in dating relationships. Results indicate rape myth acceptance, as predicted, was positively associated with intentions to sexually coerce, and negatively associated with intentions to intervene. Dating violence efficacy was negatively associated with intentions to sexually coerce, and positively associated with intentions to intervene. Exposure to the heterosexual scripts in men’s magazines, which connect sexual prowess to masculinity, was associated with intentions to sexually coerce. Overall, an understanding of the independent contribution of these factors toward sexual coercion has implications for dating violence prevention programming.

Beyond ‘the Bump’: How media portrayals of celebrity pregnancies perpetuate fertility goddess cultural norms • Nicki Karimipour, University of Florida • Modern-day pregnant celebrities share many similarities to fertility goddesses of prehistoric and ancient times: they occupy a powerful place in society; they are revered and even worshipped; average women view them as role models; and they possess comparable physical traits. The way in which the media represents pregnant celebrities (and by explicitly or implicitly portraying them as fertility goddesses) can result in the establishment of social and cultural norms. The purpose of this study is to introduce a conceptual model for evaluating the way in which media portrayals of pregnant celebrities perpetuate fertility goddess cultural norms. Variables and antecedent conditions associated with the conceptual model have been outlined within.

#ThighGap and #BikiniBridge: The New ‘Thinspo’(s)?: Examining the role of social media and dissemination of new body shape thin ideals • Nicki Karimipour, University of Florida; Kéran Billaud, University of Florida • Mass-mediated thin ideals have been a media staple for many years, but recently, two body shape trends have gone viral in mainstream and social media. The purpose of this study is to examine content being disseminated on Twitter about the thigh gap and the bikini bridge from December 1, 2013 to March 1, 2014 using a quantitative content analysis. Applications of social comparison and identity demarginalization theory are used to explain the online behavior of these users. Feminist theory is used to buttress the argument that social media interactions about the thigh gap and bikini bridge perpetuate potentially harmful aspirations and behaviors among young women.

Domestic violence as entertainment: Gender, role congruity and reality television • Carol Liebler, Syracuse University; Azeta Hatef, Syracuse University; Greg Munno, Syracuse University • This study examines how young adults react to domestic violence in reality TV, with particular attention to how gender factors into perceptions of acceptability. Data were collected via eight sessions that included pre and post-viewing questionnaires, rating an edited 24-minute video of content from three reality TV programs, and focus group discussions. Findings indicate that consistent with role congruity theory, acceptability of televised domestic violence varies contextually and with gender.

Television’s “Mean World” for Women: The Portrayal of Gender and Race on American Crime Dramas • M. Scott Parrott, The University of Alabama; Caroline Titcomb Parrott, The University of Alabama • A quantitative content analysis examined gender and racial stereotypes in fictional crime-based television programs that aired in the United States during a three-year period. Women were underrepresented. While black women were relatively non-existent, white women were victimized more often than male characters. Compared to men, white women stood a greater chance of being raped or sexually assaulted, suffering serious harm at the hands of an assailant, and being attacked by strangers.

Effects of Women’s Social Media Use in fostering Social Capital and Civic Participation • Maria Gomez y Patino, Universidad de Zaragoza; Magdalena Saldaña, The University of Texas at Austin; Trevor Diehl, The University of Texas at Austin; Homero Gil de Zuniga, University of Vienna • Observing women as benchmark, this article examined how social media activities impact social capital and civic participation. Scholars concerned with the role of women in democracies have long noted a gender gap in participatory behaviors. However, social media might offer an alternative route to community engagement for women. Analyzing original US-survey-data, results (n=831) found strong statistical evidence that social media use for community involvement and news is associated with social capital and civic participation offline.

The Disney Princess Films: 72 Years of Idealized Beauty and Love • Jennifer Hecht, San Jose State University; Diana Stover Tillinghast, San Jose State University • Portrayals of dependency, confidence, rescue, and romantic love have slowly changed in the past seven decades in the nine Disney princess films examined in this study. However, the depiction of beauty has remained much the same although many of the princesses are no longer only Caucasian. Princesses have become less dependent and more confident. Love has become more realistic with fewer romantic illusions. Suitors rescued princesses and, in the newer films, princesses rescued their suitors.

Black Womanhood, Desire, and Single-doom in Television News • Timeka Tounsel, University of Michigan • Amidst shifting tides in America’s ethnic landscape, racial uplift ideology urges black women to pursue marriage as a means of demonstrating African American’s adherence to hegemonic social values. Yet, data from Hannah Brueckner at the Yale Center for Research on Inequalities and the Life Course and the U.S. Census Bureau (2010) suggest that 45 percent of black women over 15-years-old have never been married, and that this rate is even higher for women with post-graduate degrees. Thus, professional black women are perceived as having failed to fulfill dominant gender expectations. The consequential construction of a crisis focused on increased academic achievement, and low marriage rates offers an example of how American culture manages this supposed gender deviance. In this essay, I point to salient examples—specifically in traditional news outlets such as ABC Nightline and CNN—within a contemporary cultural environment that restrict professional black women to a distinct narrative arc. Beginning at the professional peak of black women, the arc climaxes in a black gender war, and ends with a disciplining of black women’s life desires. By burdening black women with racial uplift, this narrative neglects a rational discussion of black men, evades the impact of structural inequality, and elevates independence and autonomy as inappropriate desires for black women.

Empowerment messages with women from underserved communities: Expanding a theory of women’s communication about health • Jennifer Vardeman-Winter, University of Houston • As women’s health has received significant political and media attention recently, I proposed an expanded theory of women’s communication about health. Public relations and community health work literature framed this study. I interviewed 15 communicators and community health workers from grassroots organizations focused on women’s health. Findings suggest that women face structural, cognitive, cultural, political, and emotional/spiritual barriers to communicating about health. Participants also discussed the importance of messages of empowerment and resilience with women.

An Indian Abroad: Postulating post-colonial feminisms via Priyanka Chopra’s globality • Roshni Verghese • Priyanka Chopra’s prolific career has taken her from being the belle of Bollywood to a global celebrity as she enters Western popular culture, symbolically representing India and Indians. This paper uses visual analysis of her English music videos, select interviews with American and Indian media and other print media texts to identify how she invokes themes of globality; using sexual exoticism, racial ambiguity and cultural hybridity to successfully promote a new prototype of Indian women.

Stigmatized Presentation of Single Women: A Content Analysis of News Coverage on Single Women and Single Men in China • Gong Wanqi, City University of Hong Kong; Caixie Tu; Jiang Li • This study explored the stigmatize presentation of single women in news reports by content analyzing the news coverage of Chinese single women and single men from 2008 to 2013 in Mainland China. Among the three prevalent news frames (conflict, attribution of responsibility, and human interest), results showed that the news reports commonly employ human interest frame and concentrate on the single women’s family conflicts . News stories also unduly attributed the responsibility of the ‘single’ issue to the single women themselves. Moreover, the media tend to utilize positive tone to portray single men rather than single women. The biased standpoint in reporting single women reflect and further shape the stereotype of single women. As an exploratory study, our research shed light on the public perception of single women. Theoretical and practical implications were provided.

Mitigating the Engendered Digital Divide: Women as Active Learners in Developing Countries • Jessica Wendorf, University of Miami • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become part of modern life, but sadly developing countries are unable to benefit from this technological advancement. Consequently, the knowledge gap between information-rich and information-poor has intensified. Today, it is not the lack of physical access, but in fact, the intellectual access limitations confounded by the omitting of ethnic, racial, and cultural individualism that most affect ICT interventions focused on minority females.

Are Men from Mars and Women from Venus in Terms of Twitter and Facebook Use? And How about Whites and Non-Whites – Are They on Different Planets? • Geri Alumit Zeldes, Michigan State University; Saleem Alhabash, Michigan State University; Elizabeth Quilliam, Michigan State University • Indeed. Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus, when it comes to the intensity in which they used Facebook and Twitter. Using Uses and Gratifications theory and Liu, Cheng & Lee’s (2010) 19-item scale to measure motivations, this study found that women are significantly more intense in their use of the two social media platforms especially when it comes to several motivations – entertainment, escapism, and medium appeal. In terms of race, Whites and Non-Whites are also on different planets. The study indicated a greater intensity to use Facebook and Twitter than their Non-White counterparts, out intensifying their Non-White counterparts in their use of Facebook except in the motivations of self-documentation and commercial interaction. The researchers recommend a replication of this study using a much more diverse population than that of students in a mass communication school at a large Midwestern university.

2014 Abstracts