School of Communications publishes fall 2021 issue of research journal

In the most recent edition of the Elon Journal, student researchers conducted an expansive look at storytelling, as well as how the ongoing pandemic has impacted media producers and consumers.

The School of Communications has published the fall 2021 issue of the Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, featuring student research on topics ranging from how documentary filmmakers present environmental issues to the conflict framing in news coverage of the 2021 GameStop stock saga.

The issue contains nine research papers authored by School of Communications students, including the first-ever article from the Sport Management Department to appear in the publication.

“Evolving modes of storytelling and the continuing impact of COVID-19 on the communications field are common threads that tie together the fall 2021 edition of the Elon Journal,” wrote Professor Harlen Makemson in the issue’s From the Editor letter.

The student researchers examined storytelling through several types of media  across a wide span of time. This included Anita Hallberg who completed a nearly 30-year analysis of how documentary filmmakers present environmental issues, as well as Molly Sposato who studied how Pulitzer-winning feature writers since 1979 have employed the concept of emotionality.

In a more contemporary vein, Cecilia Shelter investigated how U.S. journalists use narratives to report on animal agriculture and climate change, and Hallie Milstein set out to determine bias within news coverage of the January 2021 GameStop incident. Additionally, Sophia Pescatore explored the fast-growing field of neuromarketing and perceptions of this practice in terms of comfortability, ethics and future implications.

As one might expect, the ongoing pandemic has forced media producers and consumers to adapt their habits. This trend was also reflected in the articles in the fall 2021 issue.

On the consumer side, Isabella Campione used focus group methodology to gauge the reasons why college students have turned to podcasts during the pandemic. On the production side, Halle Brennan explored how two brands – The Washington Post and Gymshark – used TikTok to communicate during the pandemic, while Hanna Meyers analyzed how prominent pandemic-related video ads used color.

Lastly, Natalie Cummins, a sport management major, conducted a large-scale survey of NCAA Division I athletic directors and their career needs – authenticity, balance and challenge. Through a quantitative survey design, Cummins’ findings suggest that ADs, regardless of gender and career stage, prioritized challenge.

For this fall 2021 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 fall 2021 journal marks the 24th edition.

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