Spring 2014 (V. 29, No. 2)

Online Engagement Through Facebook Groups in Face-to-Face Undergraduate Communication Courses: A Case Study

by Dr. Sarah Maben, Dr. Jennifer Edwards and Dan Malone
Tarleton State University

Abstract: More than 500 posts from undergraduate student enrolled in three communication
courses’ Facebook groups were analyzed for themes to expand on the literature of instructor implementation of social media usage in college courses and investigate online engagement. Three researchers reviewed one semester of Facebook postings, which were part of a course assignment for three classes: media writing, promotional writing, and news and magazine editing. The dominant themes clustered into three areas: evidence of formal learning, resource sharing and seeking, and promotion and self-promotion. Based on observations, considerations for similar projects and ideas for future study are presented.

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The Parable of the Working [Class] Man: Strategic Tensions in Gendered Discourses of Striking Workers, 1950

by Catherine A. Coleman and John R. Tisdale
Texas Christian University

Abstract: The post-War American advertising landscape was filled with the consumer legacies of wartime technologies, and re-positioned consumption within the “national interest” mindset the war emergency had produced. This new mindset would involve a vision of business and enterprise that had people “pursuing individualistic goals to secure a larger prosperity for the nation” (Cohen, 2003, p. 101). Within this developing post-war context, and strongly driven by economic and political motivations, The Texas Company took out full-page ads in the newspaper of Port Arthur, Texas—where workers at their largest plant were on strike—to deter workers from participating in the ongoing strike with messages promoting an ethic of individualistic, non- collective goals. Coupled with gendered “slice of life” messages that have the façade of gender role depictions typical of the era, these ads attacked the strike not as it would affect the work space but rather from within the home, presenting an image of striking workers as infantile, unsophisticated, and, effectively, emasculated. These ads present the Parable of the Working [Class] Man, a moral lesson presented in the guise of everyday life (Marchand, 1985). The Parable of the Working [Class] Man relied heavily on gendered notions of home and work spaces to subvert expectations and, thereby, to present the strike as antithetical to the moral character of the working man.

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“American women never again will be second-class citizens”: Analyzing New York Times coverage of Geraldine Ferraro’s 1984 vice-presidential bid

by Dr. Tracy Everbach
University of North Texas

Abstract: This qualitative, interpretive study sought to examine New York Times coverage of Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice presidential candidate in the United States, during the 1984 presidential election. Employing previously established frames, the analysis found that The New York Times treated Ferraro as a viable vice presidential candidate. Some stories about Ferraro veered into Italian-American ethnic stereotypes when the angle focused on questions about her husband’s finances. Although the 1984 stories published by the Times overall showed promise that political women would move forward with equitable coverage to men, the study found that Ferraro’s bold prediction that “American women never again will be second-class citizens” did not hold true. Comparison with mainstream media coverage of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin 24 years later and of other candidates such as Hillary Clinton revealed that hegemonic masculinity in political coverage is firmly entrenched. In fact, Ferraro’s treatment by the Times in 1984 was more gender-equitable than more recent media coverage of female political candidates in the 21st century.

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Would You Say The Process Was Contentious or Smooth Sailing? Administrators’ Views On Revising The Mass Communication Curriculum

by Drs. Jim Sernoe Mitzi Lewis
Midwestern State University

Abstract: This study seeks to build upon our earlier investigation of how mass communication programs across the country are altering their curricula in order to accommodate the major changes in our field brought on by the Internet. While our earlier study looked at how degree plans are changing and what educators in the field think is important, this study again examines the how and the what, but expands to include: What has been your biggest challenge regarding your program’s curriculum? How have you deal with that challenge? Why did you make the changes you made? Beyond that, what philosophical beliefs underlie the changes? We also look at how the process played out: smooth sailing, a few minor skirmishes or downright contentious.

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Portrayals of a Presidential Statement on Race: The Barack Obama-Trayvon Martin Connection in 25 Daily Newspapers

by Drs. George Daniels, Lillie M. Fears, Gabriel B. Tait
University of Alabama, Arkansas State University

Abstract: This study analyzed daily newspaper coverage of President Obama’s July 19, 2013 statement on the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. The story was the most high-profile incident of 2013 where race was a major issue. The 25 front pages that made up the purposive sample represented a range of newspaper types including 13 metropolitan newspapers, seven community newspapers and five with the largest circulations in the nation. The analysis showed that the storyline most newspapers used in reporting on the statement by the nation’s first bi-racial president was one that made the connection between Obama and a 17-year-old African American boy from Florida who was gunned down as he wore a hoodie and carried a bag of Skittles. Fifteen of the 25 newspapers chose to use Obama’s words Trayvon Martin “Could Have Been Me” in their headline.

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“The Front Page of the Internet”: Safe Spaces and Hyperpersonal Communication among Females in an Online Community

by Hallie Workman and Catherine A. Coleman
Texas Christian University

Abstract: The social content sharing site, Reddit.com, has seen an increase in both popularity and criticism recently. Within this larger website, smaller communities exist which cater to specific interests and groups. One of these communities is TwoXChromosomes (or 2X), a “subreddit” for women to share information and experiences with other like-minded women. Through a voluntary online survey and four-week-long online ethnography, this research found that, like other online communities, 2X fulfills a specific need for the members and contributors. Among other things, 2X fulfills the need for a safe place (when many places on the Internet are not considered to be as welcoming to girls and women), and it provides information and camaraderie that community members feel they cannot find in their offline lives for any variety of reasons. Public relations and communication professionals working for nonprofits and other women-centered organization can use this information to find out what women are talking about, what areas they are asking for advice in, and use this information to inform their strategic communication efforts.

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