Fall 2016 (V. 32, No. 1)

Nate Silver vs. the Pundits: Examining the Roles of Political Punditry, Big Data and Cognitive Dissonance in a 2012 U.S. Presidential Election Dispute

by Stan Ketterer, John McGuire and Shane Hoffman
Oklahoma State University

Abstract: This study examines the role of political punditry at a time when Big Data is playing a greater role in campaign journalism. It focuses on the dispute between data journalist Nate Silver and the pundits over his predictions during the 2012 U.S. presidential election. A qualitative content analysis is used to assess the online commentary in the weeks before the election. Silver’s supporters touted his statistical approach while critics questioned Silver’s methods and cited their own gut feelings about the campaign’s outcome. When the election results vindicated Silver, most pundits resolved their cognitive dissonance by declining to give him any credit. The research suggests pundits not only favored their own party in their predictions but also tried to keep uncertainty about the elections results alive and bolster the value of their work. This research not only suggests a new method for covering America’s political process, but adds to our understanding of political punditry and the advancement of Big Data journalism.

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Katrina Anniversary Coverage and New Orleans Residents

by Shearon Roberts, Ph.D
Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans

Abstract: This study surveyed New Orleans-area residents to determine their responses to local and national news coverage of Hurricane Katrina 10-year anniversary coverage. This study examined whether anniversaries as a type of routine news event corresponds to a form of re-lived trauma, and brings into question responsible and ethical journalism. The survey found that a majority of New Orleans area viewers sampled were exposed to Katrina anniversary coverage whether they deliberately chose to tune in or not. Additionally, New Orleans area residents sampled expressed negative reactions to the anniversary coverage that reflected continued signs of trauma from the event 10 years later. Negative reaction to coverage was higher for audiences who looked at national news sources compared to local ones. Locals also responded positively to coverage that demonstrated the strength and resilience of victims of the disaster, as well as coverage that featured the city’s cultural and historical traditions.

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Citizen Framing of Ferguson in 2015: Visual Representations on Twitter and Facebook

by Gabriel B. Tait, Ph.D., Mia N. Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D., Lillie M. Fears, Ph.D., Ceeon Q. Smith, Ph.D., Brenda A. Randle, ED.D

Arkansas State University, Baylor University, Arizona State University 

Abstract: Using a critical race lens and framing theory, this exploratory study of visual representations on Twitter and Facebook explores the cultural narratives citizens used in their framing of the Ferguson riots in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death in 2014. Findings indicate citizens posted photographs, texts, and videos to characterize the incident both positively and negatively using various frames and cultural narratives.

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New, Bold and Tenuous: Ethiopian Journalism Education

by R.S. (Kip) Wotkyns III
Metropolitan State University of Denver

Abstract: In Ethiopia, Aksum University professors, staff and administrators are building a brand-new journalism department, one that teaches core literacy skills, but also stresses responsible journalism, based on independence, accuracy, and verification. They are grappling with a rapidly changing landscape, desperately trying to keep up. They face political, environmental and technology challenges, plus a freshly imposed state of emergency, because of widespread civil unrest.

This paper is baseline research measuring the student experience of the new Journalism and Communications Department at Aksum University, in Axum Ethiopia. The first year of the roll out of the Department was the 2015-16 academic year. I had the privilege to be the first, foreign, visiting professor. I taught an Introduction to Journalism and Communication course in December 2015. This work is based on those experiences and uses a well-tested survey template, customized to the task. The survey sample included all of the 1st year students. The result is an uncommon glimpse, into the nascent phase of.

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Direct to Consumer (DTC) pharmaceutical advertising recall: The role of involvement

by Ignatius Fosu
University of Arkansas

Abstract: The effect of different amounts of risk information in DTC ads on recall was examined in an experiment. Three versions of DTC ads, containing different amounts of risk information were developed based on FDA guidelines and shown to participants in a 3 x 3 between group design. Participants’ unaided recall of ad information suggest a main effect of ad version on recall, with the ads that have moderate amount of risk information eliciting the most recall of risk information. The moderating role of involvement was inconclusive.

Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) eased restrictions on Direct to Consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription drugs in the 1980s, the debate regarding appropriate risk disclosures that would enable consumers make accurate assessment of drugs continues. At the core is what risk disclosure formats lead to adequate recall of risk information. This paper explores the role of involvement in recall of risk disclosures in print ads containing varying amounts of risk information. This exploratory study uses experimental methodology and helps provide preliminary insights into this important issue. Findings from this study could serve as a basis for developing larger studies to examine this issue in more depth to reach actionable conclusions that would inform policy recommendations on what level of risk disclosure should be encouraged to achieve the desired levels of risk information recall.

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The Divide Between Journalists and the Audience: Perceptions of Journalism Credibility at a Statewide Level

by Raymond McCaffrey, Bobbie J. Foster, Christi Welter and Janine Parry
University of Arkansas

Abstract: This two-part study examined the perception of journalism ethical standards by both the public and media professionals on a statewide level. In part one of the study, a statewide poll found that only 14% of Arkansas residents rated the honesty and ethical standards of journalists as high or very high. The results are about 9 percentage points below the findings of a national Gallup poll in 2015 in which the public ranked the ethical standards of journalists. In contrast, part two of the study revealed that 75% of Arkansas media professionals surveyed rated the honesty and ethical standards of journalists as high or very high. Still, 85% of the media professionals also said they thought ethical violations were damaging their profession. Journalists were split about the most common ethical complaint from readers and viewers – 45% said bias, 45% said inaccuracy, and 10% said fairness. Asked what medium they thought was the source of the most ethical violations, 20% blamed broadcast (TV); 25% blamed the Internet; 40% blamed social media; 5% blamed social media and broadcast; 5% blamed social media and the Internet; and 5% blamed social media, broadcast, and the Internet. The responses of these journalists were consistent with the theory of paradigm repair, which posits that journalists engage in discursive strategies to defend their profession in the face of ethical scandals, such as ignoring these ethics offenses or shifting the blame to other sources, such as new technology.

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