Spring 2023 Issue
Volume 14, No. 1
Digital Exclusion: Analyzing Disparities in Internet Access for Disabled and Vulnerable People
Using the annual Internet Use Survey conducted by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), this study compares the use of the internet at home, work, and school by individuals with and without disabilities. An analysis of this data from 2011-2021 revealed a lasting disparity between the access of disabled people to the internet and that of non-disabled people. Over time, there is a steady decrease in the gap between disabled and non-disabled people in terms of their proportion of internet access at home. In contrast, the difference in the proportion of schoolchildren with access to the internet has not changed significantly since 2015. According to an analysis of internet access at work, non-disabled individuals tend to have better access to the internet than disabled individuals.
Mentor: Byung Lee
Sex Sells: A Content Analysis on Changes in Cosmopolitan’s Sex-Related Headlines Over 30 Years
Sexual advice articles are a major content feature in women’s magazines. This content analysis examines whether Cosmopolitan magazine has changed the way it frames sex by analyzing the sexual focus of cover headlines through the promotion of female or male pleasure. The headlines on the covers of Cosmopolitan in 1979, 1999, and 2019 were used to track changes over time. There was a shift toward male pleasure on the covers of the 1999 issues before moving away from the male focus in 2019. The adjustments over time in sexual focus on the cover headlines of Cosmopolitan aligned with significant social and cultural movements during the period.
Mentor: Jane O’Boyle
Read All About It: A Quantitative Analysis of The Baltimore Sun’s Reporting Practices
In 2022, The Baltimore Sun’s editorial board published an apology for an historical pattern of perpetuating racism through its reporting. This study focused on how the publication framed crime coverage before and after the apology was published. Using content analysis informed by framing theory, the researcher examined a sample of “biased” and “unbiased” articles from 2013-2021 and again in 2022. The findings of the study suggest that The Baltimore Sun has changed its reporting practices since the apology, with the use of positive language contributing to unbiased crime coverage. This research suggests that the Sun is on the way to achieving the goal of using its influence to break down the barriers that have repeatedly held back individuals and communities.
Mentor: Jessalyn Strauss
Representation of Bisexuality: An Analysis of Bisexual-Identifying Characters in Film
Bisexuality is often not viewed as a valid sexuality, which is extremely harmful to those who identify as bisexual. This research examines how bisexuals are represented in contemporary film, analyzing how bisexuals are portrayed and if the bisexual identity was clear within the films. Using qualitative content analysis, the study analyzed ten movies from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) that were identified as the top bisexual films. Findings from the research show themes of bisexual erasure, the unfaithful lover, oversexualization of bisexual women, and negative sentiments toward bisexual men. Additionally, this research finds an overall lack of representation and a significant amount of negativity toward bisexuals in the films viewed. These findings have implications for the bisexual community in their perceptions of the harmful misrepresentation in the film industry, and the potential of eventual erasure of their bisexual identity.
Mentor: Laura Lacy
Social Setback: A Study of Social Media’s Role in College Students’ Well-Being During COVID-19
Social media has been a prominent tool for people worldwide for more than two decades, but its usage has also been linked to mental health decline.This study investigates the impact of social media on current college seniors through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uses and gratification theory. The goal of the research was to find the reasoning behind why students used social media during the pandemic and how their social media usage has changed since 2020, if at all. Multiple focus groups indicated that cognitive needs, social integration, and tension-free needs were the main reasons to use social media during isolation. Furthermore, it was found that social media habits have changed dramatically since 2020. The research reinforces the idea of social media being an outlet for students during quarantine, but also being a destructive tool if misused.
Mentor: Dan Haygood
Street Drugs Merging: Framing of Ketamine Treatment for Depression and Traditional Antidepressants Within Major U.S. News Outlets
Ketamine began as a recreational street drug but was recently found to have antidepressant properties. Mainly used in low doses as an intramuscular injection, or IV, ketamine treatment causes rapid effects, unlike traditional antidepressants, yet is not FDA approved. With nearly 50 million Americans experiencing mental health issues, and over half of them not receiving care, finding an effective form of treatment is vital. For people with suicidal ideation, a rapid form of healing such as ketamine treatment could be lifesaving. This research explores how major U.S. news outlets frame ketamine treatment and traditional antidepressants. Quantitative content analysis was used to manually code 64 articles. The researcher found that ketamine treatment was framed more positively, and traditional antidepressants were framed negatively. These articles often did not include primary background information such as side effects, and this exclusion affects how the article is framed and may influence the consumer.
Mentor: Dan Haygood