Students share research
at SURF 2004 sessions


Twenty-nine School of Communications students were among the many Elon University researchers presenting their work at Elon University's extremely selective 2004 Student Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF) April 6.

Faculty mentors for this year's School of Communications researchers include Brooke Barnett, Connie Book, Kelli Burns, David Copeland, Jessica Gisclair, Harlen Makemson and Janna Anderson.

Following is the 2004 SURF schedule of Communications sessions. Abstracts are listed in alphabetical order at the end of this page.

Session I
Issues Related to Education. Location: McEwen 011. Moderator: Dr. Melinda Rice

12:20 Colleen Koski, Sara Hodges and Mariah Lietz "All the Stage is a World for Some: A Study of Awareness and Interest in Alamance Children's Theatre." Faculty Mentor(s): Kelli Burns

Session II
Media Analysis. Location: McMichael 115. Moderator: Dr. Connie Book

1:30 Adam Smith "AIDS in the Media: Are Journalists Covering the Right Angles?" Faculty Mentor(s): Brooke Barnett

1:50 Cara Catalfumo, Nicole Filippo, Lauren Vater and Anna Vining "National Youth Media Campaign's Effectiveness on Youth and Adults" Faculty Mentor(s): David Copeland

2:10 Brandi Little "An Examination of the Women Featured in Broadcasting and Cable's 'Fifth Estater' 1993-2003" Faculty Mentor(s): Constance Book

2:30 Brittany Dunlap, Christopher Morse, Julie Rohmann and Julie Smith "Does a New Form of Communication Mean a New Way of Communicating?" Faculty Mentor(s): David Copeland

Session III
Communications. Location: McEwen 011. Moderator: Dr. Kelli Burns

3:00 Ellen Lawton " 'Show Me St. Louis:' A Case Study in Local Broadcasting" Faculty Mentor(s): Constance Book

3:20 Mary Randall "An Analysis of Brand Loyalty in NASCAR" Faculty Mentor(s): Jessica Gisclair

3:40 Dorothy Stevenson "From Patriot to Activist: Media Framing of Vietnam Veteran Ron Kovic and the Uncomfortable Issues of a Contested War" Faculty Mentor(s): Harlen Makemson

4:00 Brandi Little and Shavanna Jagrup "Imagining the Internet: A Retrospective Study" Faculty Mentor(s): Janna Anderson

Poster session & College Coffee

Alison O'Hara "Popularity of Female Surfing and the Influence of Modern Surf Culture on Clothes, Styles, and Trends" Faculty Mentor(s): Jessica Gisclair

Keren Rivas "KPFA Radio and Post-World War II America: The Rise of an Alternative Vocie During Troubling Times" Faculty Mentor(s): Harlen Makemson

Kelly Koppenhafer "Gender Stereotyping and the Popular Press: Cosmopolitan and Maxim" Faculty Mentor(s): Jessica Gisclair

Session IV
Communications. Location: McEwen 011. Moderator: Dr. Jessica Gisclair

4:30 Candace Buckman, Collen Clabby, Lauren Gray, Kristen Johnson and Meghan Walsh "Product Placement in Sitcom and Reality Television" Faculty Mentor(s): Brooke Barnett

4:50 Leah Baker, Catherine Scanlon and Julie Smith "The Impact of Reality Television on Elon's Student Body" Faculty Mentor(s): David Copeland

5:10 Ellen Lawton, Amanda Vellucci and Nathan Ritz, "BET v. CBS? Racial Differences in Network News Presentation" Faculty Mentor(s): Constance Book


Leah Katherine Baker, Catherine L. Scanlon and Julie Ann-Elizabeth Smith (Dr. David Copeland), School of Communications. This project will explore the effect that reality television has, not on its participants, but on its loyal viewers. With the rise in popularity of reality television shows, including The Real World, Survivor and The Bachelor, are viewers are becoming more and more personally involved with the characters? How far will some students go to ensure they are up on the latest plot twist on their favorite show? We set out to find what effect, if any, reality television has on the day-to-day life of the average Elon student. This emotional attachment can help create bonds between students who gather each week (or each night) to see who else is going to get, "voted off." Students may strategically schedule their classes and group meetings around their reality television viewing schedule. Using both quantitative and qualitative data, along with in depth interviews and a video documentary, our project aims to show the link between student-to-student and student-to-professor interaction that is encouraged through their mutual preoccupation with reality television.

Candace Buckman, Colleen Clabby, Lauren Gray, Kristen Johnson and Megan Walsh (Dr. Brooke Barnett), School of Communications. Studies have shown that product placement is becoming more prevalent in television as another form of advertising. Product placement can be both the physical appearance of a product or the simple mention of a product's name in dialogue. This research explores the amount of product placement in two sitcoms and two reality shows. We conducted a content analysis study that examined 72 shows total. We coded for such things as length of the product placement; whether the product was shown, spoken about, or shown and spoken about; and which character type was involved in the product placement. The products were then placed into respective categories according to type. Such categories included food, clothing, drinks, and electronics. Our findings show that overall there were more product placements in sitcoms versus reality shows and that the majority of those placements were explicit rather than implicit.

Cara J. Catalfumo, Nicole J. Filippo, Lauren M. Vater and Anna T. Vining (Dr. David Copeland), School of Communications. "What's your Anti-Drug?" "Talk to your kids; they'll listen." "Parents: the Anti-Drug." "Marijuana. It Kills." All of these slogans are part of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign that was launched five years ago in hopes of educating and enabling America's youth to reject illicit drugs and may be found at ( strat_statement/introduction.html). This study researched the importance of the Media Campaign to see if youth and parents are being affected by the campaigns' communication techniques, looking specifically at if the Media Campaign has a positive or negative effect on youth and parents. The study's purpose was to analyze the effectiveness of, and the reactions to, the Media Campaign through student surveys and depth interviews. For the study, "effective" was defined as a combination of youths' and parents' recollection and exposure to the advertisements, if the ads influence youths' decisions on whether or not to use drugs, and if the ads prompt parents to talk to their children about drug use. To discover the effectiveness of the Anti-Drug Media campaign, researchers surveyed high school students in two schools, one in North Carolina and one in Massachusetts. Researchers also conducted depth interviews with parents. During the interviews, parents, who have children in the target-age range of the campaign, were shown campaign commercials and then asked a series of questions dealing with effectiveness of the ads. The study resulted neither in findings that that the campaign was effective for preventing youth drug use nor of sparking adults to talk to their kids about drugs. In conclusion, the research shows that the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign is ineffective.

Brittiny Dunlap, Christopher R. Morse, Julie A. Rohmann and Julie A. Smith (Dr. David Copeland), School of Communications. In the last ten years, computer-mediated communication (CMC), such as e-mail and instant messenger, have become increasingly popular and are used nearly every day by our youngest generations. People are communicating with each other in a way they never could before. While this new technology is fast, efficient and convenient, one may begin to wonder if the presence of such convenience is taking away from face-to-face communication. As communication students, we wanted to find out if CMC has begun to replace other important means of communication. Are younger generations, which were born into a very computer-literate world, talking less face-to-face? Do people feel that CMC lacks important elements of face-to-face communication? By our own survey analysis, which we compared to previous research that has been done on this issue, we came to find that people are not talking less in person but are in fact communicating more over all. The convenience of the internet doesn't seem to have replaced other forms of communicating. As a society, we are communicating with one another more than ever, and there are certain values of interpersonal communication that will never change.

Kelly L. Koppenhafer (Dr. Jessica Gisclair), School of Communications. Magazines and periodicals are very prominent and popular mediums, especially for the college-aged demographic. Two of the most popular gender-specific magazines geared specifically towards college students are Maxim and Cosmopolitan. Through the sexual material these periodicals include, gender stereotypes about men and women's interests are formed, which are not entirely accurate. The stereotypical image of college males is that they are only interested in women, sex, alcohol, gadgets and sports. For females, women are seemingly also interested in sex, relationships, fashion, gossip and self-sufficiency. Popular press magazines like Cosmopolitan and Maxim uphold and extend gender stereotyping to promote their products to their target audiences. Two focus groups were conducted and a content analysis of both periodicals was done. The front covers and centerfold spreads were compared and critiqued from three months of Cosmopolitan and Maxim. Two males and two females, one of each gender an avid reader of their gender specific magazine, the other one a non-reader, participated in the focus groups. Both magazines are sexually exploitative and degrading to women and the primary product being sold is sex, which is evident through how the magazines are marketed. Men are more visually oriented, so Maxim contained mostly images and not articles. Cosmopolitan, however, presented the same material and stereotypical sexual image through text. This study examines the one-dimensional stereotypes presented and upheld about both genders through these periodicals.

Colleen S. Koski, Sara S. Hodges and Mariah E. Lietz (Dr. Kelli Burns), School of Communications. Although Alamance Children's Theatre (ACT) finds enough children to fill the roles in its productions, the organization is interested in expanding the pool of children who audition for roles. The value in increasing the pool of participants is to the children themselves, rather than the organization. A study by the Arts Education Partnership (2002) showed a positive correlation between participation in the arts and critical-thinking abilities and performance in school. The purpose of this study was to determine the awareness, interest, and feasibility among both children and their parents in having their child participate in ACT. To understand these issues among children, a focus group was conducted with students at two local middle schools: Broadview Middle School and Southern Alamance Middle School. A total of eight arts-oriented students were selected by teachers at these two schools to participate in an hour-long discussion. Although the focus group results did not support some of the hypothesized feasibility issues (i.e., transportation and cost), the results indicated that students lacked awareness and interest in the organization. The results suggested ways to make children more aware of the organization and more interested, with the main reason being the type of production. To answer these same questions for parents, a survey of 42 Elon University employees with a middle-school aged child was conducted. While only 19 percent of respondents had a child who had previously participated in ACT, the majority of parents (66 percent) were aware of ACT and almost half (44 percent) thought that their child would be interested in participating in an upcoming production ACT. Transportation and cost issues were not a problem for this group as 62 percent considered themselves likely to be able to provide transportation and 81 percent considered themselves likely to be able to pay the participation fee.

Ellen B. Lawton, Amanda L. Velluci and Nathan M. Ritz (Dr. Connie Book), School of Communications. Black Entertainment Television is a part of the revolution in emerging media services that seeks to provide specialized content for niche groups of television viewers. The BET program, BET Nightly News is the only national news program that targets Black audiences. Using Agenda Setting Theory as a guide, a content analysis of a month of news programming that aired on BET Nightly News and CBS Evening News was conducted in order to better understand how the two programs compared. In all, 941 elements of programming were coded. Several units of analysis were examined, such as, story topic, position in newscast, news slant present, racial composition of the newscasts and advertising content of the newscasts. Significant differences between BET Nightly News and CBS Evening News were discovered, such as how stories were positioned in the newscast, slant related to racially related news stories, topics of stories selected for coverage and the race of those selected as interviewees. BET Nightly News and CBS Evening News are owned by the same parent company, Viacom, and produced in the same location so the data also presents interesting findings related to how resources were shared.

Ellen B. Lawton (Dr. Connie Book), School of Communications. The essential question addressed by this research is the need and want for local news in television programming. As the media market becomes more concentrated, local news programming has suffered and even been eliminated in some markets. Show Me St. Louis is a unique, local program that airs in its market at 3 p.m. The show is designed to reach younger viewers, stay at home mothers ages 18-34. No similar show exists in the United States. Using case study methodology, an analysis of the program's content and production was conducted. This research is important because it allows a deeper understanding of how and when local programming is successful and demonstrates the importance of localism in an increasingly concentrated media landscape. Thirteen episodes of Show Me St. Louis were coded by topic of story, advertisements appearing during the show and position of story. On-site interviews were conducted at the station with administrators of the program, such as local producers and the show's webmaster. The data found that the show was successful in providing an outlet for local advertising with 66 percent of the commercial slots sold to local retailers. Additionally, the program provided 34 percent of its commercial time to promote other programming airing on the station, such as the 6 p.m. news. The show's content focused on local features, upcoming events and featured a daily spot with three local non-profit organizations in the viewing area. These important functions of community building demonstrated the value of local television.

Brandi W. Little and Shavanna N. Jagrup (Professor Janna Anderson), School of Communications. This content study documents the expectations of stakeholders and skeptics in the boom days of the Internet, from 1990 to 1995. What was everyone saying about the future of this new communications tool? With every new medium of communication it is important to reflect back on what the early pioneers foresaw for the future. By analyzing their predictions, we can examine whether or not the Internet has: reached, surpassed, or failed to meet the early pioneers' expectations. A great number of the written texts, speeches, and broadcast materials of the early 1990s were studied in the extraction and categorization of more than 4,000 predictions about the future of the Internet. Internet predictions were categorized based on several topics including culture, global relations, politics, economic structures, information infrastructure, and communications. Predictions varied in their outlook of the Internet. Some predictions warned of negative effects on culture, while others predicted bold, new ideas for the emerging technology. Definitive conclusions cannot be drawn from the 4,000 predictions because of the continuous evolution of the Internet. However, the predictions database will be a vital tool for researchers, professors and students when studying the impact of the Internet in the years to come.

Brandi W. Little (Dr. Connie Book), School of Communications. Broadcasting and Cable is one of the top trade magazines for the broadcasting industry. The magazine's "Fifth Estater" column is a highlight of this publication. The magazine recognizes a professional for their contribution to the field of broadcasting or cable. After reading various issues of this magazine, it is apparent that women are an uncommon commodity among those selected by the editors of Broadcasting and Cable. A systematic examination of the men and women profiled by the editors of Broadcasting and Cable in the "Fifth Estater" is being conducted in order to determine how often women are recognized for their achievement in the industry and how they differ from their male counterparts. Understanding framing theory helps to better understand the significant role Broadcasting and Cable has in shaping attitudes toward women in the industry. Framing involves selection and salience (Entman, 1993). In the case of Broadcasting and Cable's, "Fifth Estater," the column serves as a frame in that the communicator (the magazine's editorial staff) has dedicated a page within the magazine to showcase a notable person within the industry. This frame is repeated weekly, 51 Mondays a year, creating salience among readers so that the notion of importance as related in the "Fifth Estater" creates an impression difficult to combat. A ten year study of the "Fifth Estater" is being conducted for the purposes of this research project (1993-2003). The "Fifth Estater" offers a variety of information including: sex, race, birth year, current title, where employed, and other facts. This information is being coded numerically and utilized in a content analysis. Research questions including: what percentage of people profiled in the "Fifth Estater" are women and how do women compare demographically to their male counterparts will be answered based on the data collected. Preliminary findings reveal that ten years ago few women were being recognized for their achievements in the broadcasting industry. Fortunately, in more recent years an increase in recognition of females within the industry has occurred. Findings indicate that women are taking vital steps towards earning top-level management positions however; the lack of women in upper management should still be a top concern.

Alison M. O'Hara (Dr. Jessica Gisclair), School of Communications. Female surfing today has changed media and culture. Surfing has created a booming industry. The emergence of the women surf market has shown great authority and potential, and has created a global cultural tsunami. Starting with Blue Crush and Surf Girls, viewers have been given a close look at the unknown culture of surfing and the aggressive world of competition. Through these shows and movies, surf brands were able to extend their young adult brand by tapping into the world and lifestyle of surfing. This research examines how modern surf culture has influenced the sport of surfing as well as its clothes, styles, and trends. Through focus groups, this research investigates the popularity of surfing clothes and styles among women, the possible affect this trend has had on the surf industry, and the potential for further expansion of the surfing industry. This research shows that surfing was never lost to the most die-hard enthusiasts; rather surfing has evolved from the "Beach Boys" era to the modern-day surf culture.

Mary A. Randall (Dr. Jessica Gisclair), School of Communications. The transition of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing from a Southeastern-based sport to a major national spectator sport, ranked second behind the National Football League, caught many members of the business world by surprise (FAN-tastic, 2002). One aspect of the sport that has particularly intrigued many corporate executives is the high level of brand loyalty that NASCAR fans demonstrate. This study examines the level of brand loyalty among NASCAR fans and the possible reasons for this behavior. A survey of a group of NASCAR fans was conducted to determine the impact of the number of years as a fan on the level of brand loyalty and also to ascertain the predominant reason for the high level of brand loyalty in NASCAR. The results indicate that the longer a person has been a NASCAR fan, the higher their level of brand loyalty is. They are also more likely to purchase a product solely because it is affiliated with NASCAR and they are more likely to buy a product that is NASCAR-affiliated than a product that is not. The results also reveal that the main reason for brand loyalty among NASCAR fans is to support their favorite driver/team. These findings are congruent with previous academic studies and popular press surveys.

Keren R. Rivas (Dr. Harlen Makemson), School of Communications. Journalists have continually questioned their precise role in society. A look throughout history reveals that the definition of the role of journalists has gone through several metamorphoses (Walter Lippmann, 1922, "Public Opinion"; The Commission on Freedom of the Press, 1947, "A Free and Responsible Press"). In an effort to understand the reasons behind these adaptations, this research takes a closer look at the factors that made possible the emergence of alternative radio KPFA during the late 1940s. Not only was KPFA a pioneer in listener-supported radio, but also a rare voice of dissent in the early Cold War era. Guiding the research was the following question: What impact does significant social and political unrest have on the development of new ideas about the proper role of journalists? This study argues that KPFA radio developed an activist voice as a response to the effervescent social and political conditions brought about by World War II. Using historical research methods, the study analyzes primary source documents (newspaper articles and writings by media professionals) that discuss the sociopolitical conditions of the time and the motivations of the founders of the organization. On a larger scale, this research establishes that the pivotal factors behind the constant redefinition of the role of journalists are social unrest and political dominance.

Adam B. Smith (Dr. Brooke Barnett), School of Communications. There are more than 42 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. The number of new infections is growing at rapid rates, without any signs of slowing down. The disease does not discriminate; race, nationality, and sexual orientation does not matter. What can be done to stop this? As a tool to serve the public interest, the media could be a major player in the fight to end the epidemic. However, are the media covering the angles that best fit this public interest? To find the answer, those entrenched in the epidemic (activists, case managers, those infected, infectious disease specialists) must be asked what they feel the ideal coverage would be. Interviews will be conducted with these a wide variety of people working in or dealing with HIV/AIDS from various geographical locations. After the interviews are complete, patterns and trends will be noted. Finally, a complete look at the ideal coverage will come from the topics that these men and women deem the most important and the ways that they feel they would be best covered. This research is beneficial in that it gives the media a better understanding of the epidemic and how they can play a role in stopping it.

Dorothy E. Stevenson (Dr. Harlen Makemson), School of Communications. Vietnam veterans are like no other in American history. Sent to fight in a war the American public did not support or understand, soldiers became imprisoned by the duty of serving their country. Ron Kovic left for Vietnam as a patriotic American soldier, but he did not return as the hero he had envisioned. In fact, Kovic came home paralyzed from the chest down and angry at what was happening in Vietnam. In 1976, Kovic authored Born on the Fourth of July, a graphic and controversial account of his experience during and after the Vietnam War. This research examines the role media commentary and coverage of Ron Kovic and his book played in bringing forth issues of the war that remained unpleasant for many Americans. This study analyzes coverage of Kovic through the prism of media framing theory, which proposes that news organizations "call attention to some aspects of reality while obscuring other elements, which might lead audiences to have different reactions" (Entman, 1993). The research analyzes articles about Kovic, as well as book reviews of Born on the Fourth of July, in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Newsweek from 1974 to 1978. In order to analyze how the media played a role in labeling and framing Kovic, the study included coverage of his anti-war activities before, during and after his book's publication. The articles in this study indicate that Ron Kovic was often considered a bitter and angry veteran willing to do whatever it took to bring awareness to his suffering. However, in the larger spectrum, he became an idol to disillusioned veterans, a fear to political officials, and a face for the Veterans' Movement.



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