School of Communications publishes spring 2019 issue of research journal

This semester’s edition marks the 19th in the history of the Elon Journal, the nation’s first and only undergraduate research journal in communications.

The School of Communications has published the spring 2019 issue of the Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, featuring student research on topics ranging from how magazines contextualize a well-known African hairstyle to an examination of how North Carolina politicians utilize Facebook to engage with prospective voters.

According to Professor Harlen Makemson, the journal’s editor, the majority of the spring edition’s research is “dominated by two primary concerns: representation and engagement.”

Representation, the manner in which media depict constituent groups in society, is examined by undergraduate scholars in a wide range of contexts. Kristina Piersanti analyzed Italian-American roles in cinema, while Meagan Henderson compared black women in television programs 20 years apart and Erin McDowell examined the change in diversity – both in race and body size – in the Fashion Week runway shows.

Two articles focused on representation of gender, with Lindsey Case conducting a visual analysis exploring magazine ads through the lens of the “femvertising” movement. Additionally, Devin Kiernan studied television shows and what messages they may be sending to teenagers about eating disorders.

Four additional papers dealt with engagement with social media, including Pope Francis’ use of Twitter to communicate with Catholics and non-followers. Conversely, Jenna Barone and Anna Cosentino both focused on how audiences engaged with social media to make sense of the suicide of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and the controversial Nike ad campaign featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, respectively.

​The final two studies explored how writers with different perspectives can see events or content in vastly divergent ways. Lucas Buck compared professional and amateur film reviews, discovering that the two groups do not share the same set of values about cinema. Additionally, Dana Chwatt conducted a content analysis to investigate the news media coverage surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict, and more specifically around President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“These are serious topics, and I hope you will join me in applauding these students for tackling them in such a rigorous manner,” Makemson said.

Accompanying the online articles are video introductions by the authors, who explain their research methods and their interest in the topics they chose to study.

​For this spring 2019 issue, Makemson assembled an editorial board of nearly 30 communications faculty members who participated in the multiple blind-review process to select the best student work.

The Elon Journal began in spring 2010, with spring and fall editions each year. The spring 2019 journal marks the 19th edition.

The Council on Undergraduate Research catalogs more than 200 student research journals in the nation, and the Elon Journal is the only one that focuses on undergraduate student research in journalism, media and communications.

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