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Communications students present research at 2010 NCUR

Several students in the School of Communications presented their research at the 2010 National Conferences on Undergraduate Research April 15-17 at the University of Montana.

Andie Diemer had her research about Internet governance accepted to this year's NCUR.

NCUR is dedicated to promoting undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity in all fields of study by sponsoring an annual conference for students. The national conference welcomes presenters from all institutions of higher learning and from all corners of the academic curriculum. This year there were more than 1,600 students from about 250 institutions.

Read below to see a list of students and their research topics.

Andie Diemer (journalism), “Multistakeholder Governance: The Future of the Global Internet” (mentored by associate professor Janna Anderson)

Abstract: This is a study of opinions of leading policy experts from various viewpoints of multistakeholders pertaining to Internet governance. This includes perspectives from individuals associated with government, industry, civil society, research and academia from a variety of countries and backgrounds who were in attendance at the 2009 United Nations Internet Governance Forum. This was the fourth annual Forum, a gathering implementing the multistakeholder form of governance in terms of access, critical Internet resources, diversity, openness, security, capacity building and development. Held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, from Nov. 15-18, 2009, all research was conducted on premise. The event attracted more than 1,800 stakeholders from nearly 100 nations for a discussion of ideas and ideals as they relate to the future of information and communication technologies. Almost 100 attendants from a range of social, political, geographical and economic backgrounds participated in the voluntary survey, which were recorded on video to supply to the public for consumption and reflection. The basic purpose of Internet Governance Forum is to maximize the opportunities the Internet offers, addressing risks and challenges. The research revolved around collecting as many viewpoints as possible about the future of the Internet Governance Forum, and how the Internet will be shaped. Participants were questioned about their predictions for the future of the Internet, including their major hopes and fears. Research reflects that many challenges still face the Internet today and will continue to do so in the future, and that every country and every stakeholder views a different set of challenges. Major areas of issue include access, security, censorship and ownership pertaining to the Internet. The research indicates how different stakeholders hope to attempt to tackle and overcome some of these challenges, as well as how the Internet Governance Forum should conduct itself in the future.

Morgan Little (journalism), “Changing the paradigm: Learning from the media’s success and failures in the Internet age” (mentored by associate professor Janna Anderson)

Abstract: The news industry, awash in profit and a strict adherence to traditional delivery methods, missed out on its chance to jump onto the initial Internet bandwagon. By treating online resources as auxiliary to physical alternatives, media magnates are now in a grim environment where a $74.5 million quarterly loss from the New York Times Co. is seen as a victory worthy of an 8.6 percent jump in its share prices. Finding a solution to this crisis facing the news industry, which has cost more than 46,699 jobs since the beginning of 2008, has split stakeholders into two camps. One, championed by the likes of Rupert Murdoch, focuses on changing to way the Internet works to force it to better adhere to pre-existing revenue models. The other, around which the blogging community and online news sources rally, advocates accepting the open source, advertising-focused environment of the Internet, and encouraging the news industry to redefine itself around the conventions of online commerce. I first researched the transformation the media has undergone in recent years, in particular regard to the ways in which traditional firms have reacted to and been impacted by the industry’s changing paradigm. Then, after analyzing both this information and conducting interviews with several industry leaders on their own analysis and suggestions, I drew up a series of recommendations on what the industry needs to do to regain profitability, what pitfalls it must avoid and how the public would be impacted by these changes.

Angie Lovelace (journalism), “Iconic photos of the Vietnam War and their influence on collective memory” (mentored by associate professor Harlen Makemson)

Abstract: The Vietnam War was defined as the “first televised war,” but it has been the still photos, the single frames, that have carved its place in history. Eddie Adams’ image of the execution of a Viet Cong member on the streets of Saigon and Nick Ut’s photo of a little girl running naked down the street after being burned by napalm are two examples of “iconic” photos as defined by scholars. These iconic photos have appeared repeatedly in the media, they have been reused and re-purposed by popular culture, and they appear in history books as visual representations of the war. Previous scholars such as David Perlmutter suggest however that the public’s understanding of the circumstances captured by these photographs may be limited. If these scholars are correct, then what meanings are everyday citizens attaching to these iconic photographs? Through the use of in-depth interviews with a sample population of individuals, age 15 or older during the height of the war, oral history provided insight into the iconic qualities of the photographs and how they have contributed to collective memory of the war era. Results indicate there is a disconnect between recognition of the photos and an understanding of the details. Collective memories are shared memories, constructed by society. The photographs typically triggered memories concerning the issue of the draft and war protests occurring within the United States. None of the photographs studied focused on the American soldier, but people typically remembered how the war affected people they were close to, and how the country responded to the war. Iconic photos did not positively influence the collective memory of specific events and details of the war, instead they helped to frame the war within emotional and personal memories.

Alexa Milan (journalism), “How moviemakers frame the media: An analysis of the portrayal of journalism in popular Vietnam-era cinema” (mentored by Communications Associate Dean Connie Book)

Abstract: This research project, guided by framing theory, explores how journalism as a profession and the media were portrayed in film during a time in which journalism was arguably transforming its role in society – the Vietnam War. Rather than studying films focused primarily on journalism, a content analysis of the most popular films was conducted and the presence of the media in everyday life situations coded. The top five highest grossing films from 1968-1977 were included in the sample. These films were in production during the war, and their images reached up to 120 million Americans. The 50 films studied contained 460 representations of media that paint an overall picture of how media was portrayed to audiences in this era. Variables studied included the type of media present (i.e. newspapers, television), whether it was in the foreground or background of the scene, whether its use moved the action forward, and the reporter’s demographic information and professional conduct. Some key findings include that 53.3% of the media frames were of newspapers, characters responded to the media 32.6% of the time, the media moved the plot forward 45.4% of the time, 30.2% of television portrayals were framed as sensationalistic (using dramatic, over-the-top reporting that often stretches the truth and is concerned with increasing readership or viewership), and more Black and female journalists appeared in the last four years of the sample. This research is significant because by making the deliberate choice to utilize media in their movies, filmmakers are revealing the media’s importance. Framing theory argues consciously or unconsciously, these portrayals drive public opinion about the media and its role in everyday life.

Alex Walton (strategic communications), “Product Placement in Reality Television: Practitioner and Audience Perceptions” (mentored by assistant professor Barbara Miller)

Abstract: Traditionally, sales of commercial time to advertisers have been the main source of revenue for television networks. In recent years, however, DVRs and other technologies have disrupted the traditional television advertising model, resulting in an increase in television product placements – the planned and unobtrusive entry of branded products into a program. Despite the growing use of product placements in television, research associated with this technique is limited. One study found that viewers watching a program they liked reported negative brand attitudes after seeing product placements, perhaps due to persuasion knowledge, or the awareness that they were being persuaded. While these results were based on scripted programming, there is little to no extant research that considers audience response to product placements in reality television, which may not activate audiences’ persuasion knowledge due to its supposed-reality nature. To investigate both practitioner and audience perceptions of product placement in reality television, which now represents the most prevalent form of prime time television programming, I first conducted preliminary interviews with NBC branded entertainment executives to learn about the extent and nature of the practice from professionals. I then conducted five focus groups with undergraduate students and adults over 25. Initial results indicate that industry executives view product placements, particularly in reality programming, as an integral part of the future of television advertising. Meanwhile, audiences have come to accept product placement as part of reality shows; however, they do not like when the placement is blatant, an attribute executives suggested made an “effective” placement. The focus group texts will be analyzed according to the qualitative coding procedures outlined by Strauss and Corbin. The Persuasion Knowledge Model will be applied as an analytic induction tool to analyze the findings for their synthesis with existing literature.

Hannah Williams (journalism), “Why and How They Covered Mumbai: Newsmagazine Contributors' Purposes, Processes and Products” (mentored by associate professor Brooke Barnett)

Abstract: Scholars have argued that terrorism and media exist in symbiotic relation to one another and that acts of terror are inherently newsworthy and must be covered. Considering the inevitability of media terrorism coverage, scholarship can shift the focus away from whether events are covered to how and why they are covered. Scrutinizing the role of news producers is therefore important to discover the motivational intents, editorial processes and compounding factors influencing terrorism coverage. In research interviews, journalists, editors and commentators who contributed to the Indian, U.K. and U.S. newsmagazine coverage of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks addressed their aims for coverage, their reportage and composition strategies and their self-perceived effectiveness in achieving the former through the latter. Following the critical media industry studies research model proposed by Haven, Lotz and Tinic, this research is an in-depth case study of newsmagazine contributors’ Mumbai coverage, aiming to provide a more detailed snapshot of the editorial processes driving media production in the wake of terrorist attacks in general. It assesses themes that emerged in the interviews regarding the journalistic intent, production logistics and overall evaluation of the coverage. The analysis shows the medium may indeed be the message as McLuhan suggests, with most newsmagazine contributors aiming for analysis and contextualization, facing similar logistical constraints and emphasizing the importance of beat reporting and scoops. The interviewees indicated satisfaction with their coverage, for the most part, but still noted room for improvement had more resources been available. A content analysis will follow, evaluating if indeed the newsmagazine coverage of the Mumbai attacks matched the producers’ intents.

Colin Donohue,
Staff
4/21/2010 2:40 PM