ElonComm publishes fall 2023 issue of research journal

In the most recent edition of the Elon Journal, six student researchers explored topics such as the evolution of movie musicals, the role of Instagram in the fight for democracy in Thailand, and how graphic designers consider audiences with color vision deficiency.

The School of Communications has published the fall 2023 issue of the Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, featuring student research on topics ranging from Brandon Talton’s examination of the progression of movie musicals to Megan Curling’s exploration of how Thalufah, Thailand’s pro-democracy, student-led group, has harnessed Instagram to organize supporters.

A composite of six photos relating to the Journal's topics in front of a map of the world.
This is the cover of the fall 2023 issue of the Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications – one of the nation’s only undergraduate research journals in mass communications.

“The historical evolution of film, and the power of social media to educate and organize, are two connecting themes in the fall 2023 edition,” said Professor Harlen Makemson, who serves as the journal’s editor.

The issue contains six research papers authored by School of Communications students, and kicks off with Liam Callahan’s research exploring how popular news outlets addressed the possible role of video games in fostering gun violence following former President Donald Trump’s 2019 comments linking the two. Callahan’s findings reveal that news and opinion articles generally dismissed gaming’s role in mass shootings, often citing research studies that refuted the connection.

Two student authors employed content analysis to study the ways in which film has evolved both in production techniques and representation. Talton provided an insightful comparison of movie musicals between cinema’s Golden Age and the 21st century, revealing that today’s musical numbers have a faster editing pattern, more camera shots, and more-complicated camera movements. Meanwhile, Nadine Jose’s examination of movies from the 1960s to the 2020s found substantial negativity toward menstruation, with characters experiencing some aspect of shame, maintaining secrecy, using coded language, or experiencing derisive treatment in all films.

In the social media sphere, Curling’s quantitative analysis of Instagram captions explores how Thalufah utilized Instagram to organize and inform supporters in the face of a speech-limiting constitutional monarchy. In contrast, Juliana Schiano’s study focused on how TikTok is used to disseminate information about sexual health, discovering that top videos most often share opinions, recommendations, advice, or reassurance about the topic.

Lastly, Tiffany Huang examined how professional graphic designers consider audiences with color vision deficiency, conducting 10 interviews with working designers. Her findings revealed that there is little reliance on technical tools meant to address color accessibility, with designers relying on gut instinct and subjective viewpoints to choose colors for their work.

“The articles you see in this edition are the culmination of a long and fruitful journey for each of the authors and their faculty mentors,” Markemson wrote in his From the Editor session.

For the fall 2023 issue, Makemson assembled an editorial board of 29 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 2023 journal marks its 28th edition. This past year the journal transitioned to become fully online, with each individual research paper available on its own respective webpage – increasing the content’s accessibility. Previously, past issues were mainly archived and shared via PDFs.

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.