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PR Campaigns Partners with TPD

Students in Dr. Eyun-Jung Ki’s public relations campaigns course took on a new client this year – the Tuscaloosa Police Department (TPD).

Developed to allow students the opportunity to plan, execute and present a complete public relations campaign, the course typically chooses a new client each semester. This semester, however, the client chose them.

“All of the media spotlight on police violence did affect the Tuscaloosa Police Department,” Dr. Ki said. “So they came to us to improve their relationship with the community, and to improve the tarnished image [of police officers] in general.”

Students in the course were divided into four teams and each team was responsible for creating a campaign aimed at a different target audience. While all of the groups worked with student populations in some way, the students ranged in age from elementary school to college freshman.

The four groups – Crimson Communications, Druid City Firm, Mill Creek Media Management and E&E Public Relations – conducted research on their target audience, created print and digital promotions for the TPD and hosted a community event, all aimed at improving the relationship between police officers and their constituents.

The events included a basketball tournament, where members of the TPD teamed up with high school students at UA’s Rec Center; a cookie social for high school students and police officers at American Christian Academy; a junior police academy for elementary students at Oak Hill School; and a game night at the Tuscaloosa Public Library.

The course culminated on Tuesday, April 25, when each groups presented its completed campaign to Tuscaloosa police chief Steve Anderson, lieutenant police chief Teena Richardson and Dr. Ki.

Students were not only competing for an “A” in the class, but also for almost $3,000 in prize money. Money left over from each group’s allotted budget, as well as a portion of the money paid by the Tuscaloosa Police Department, was awarded to the team who best executed its campaign strategy.

After complimenting each of the teams on a job well done, Chief Anderson presented Crimson Communications with the award. He cited the team’s adaptability, social media campaigns and event execution as the reason for the decision, before commenting on the work of the students as a whole.

Druid City firm received honorable mention and a smaller cash prize.

“The creativity that you all displayed was phenomenal – it exceeded my expectations,” Anderson said of the students. “Although we only had a first runner-up and a winner, everybody’s presentation was great, everybody’s dedication to what we were wanting was great, and you have all created sustainable campaigns that we can put into place and try to keep going at the Tuscaloosa Police Department.”

Alpine Living launches seventh issue

Fifteen students from the College of Communication and Information Sciences Department of Journalism and Creative Media celebrated the launch of the seventh issue of Alpine Living magazine on Thursday. The semester-long, international magazine production experience takes place biannually and has been recognized nationally for excellence among peer publications.

Last fall, an editorial staff of distinguished journalism and creative media students was selected to produce the 100+ page, full-gloss magazine, which promotes a different country each issue. This years’ magazine provides prospective travelers and curious readers with an authentic look at the history, culture and lifestyle of the New Zealand people.

In March, the group of graduate and undergraduate journalism students traveled to New Zealand where they spent more than two weeks exploring three of the countries largest cities: Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown. Students also visited Sydney, Australia, as well as several smaller towns and suburbs outside of the cities where they stayed.

“This issue covers parts of the North and South Island,” said Jonathan Norris, editor-in-chief of Alpine Living issue seven. “While united by nationality, the North Island – which is more developed – has a city feel, while the South Island offers a more laid-back, island-time vibe.”

Stories from the New Zealand issue range from topics of food and wine to indigenous tattoo artists and native-species conservation efforts. The magazine, which is available in both print and digital format, is also intended to highlight aspects of the evolving journalism market and allow students the opportunity to learn new and innovative ways to practice the craft.

Taylor Armer, a journalism graduate student and managing editor for the magazine, said her experience with Alpine Living was one she would not soon forget.

“I’ve never traveled abroad so I was anxious and thrilled at the same time,” Armer said. “This trip, with this group, has been a humbling, life-affirming experience. I learned so much about my cohort and myself. It was truly a life-changing experience.”

Norris echoed the sentiment.

“This magazine represents a culmination of what we have been taught here at the Capstone,” Norris said. “As I prepare to leave the University, I am proud and humbled to have worked with this incredible team.”

For more information about Alpine Living Magazine, or to read their digital format, visit their website here.

Alpine Living issue seven participants included: Taylor Armer, managing editor; Kaylin Bowen, writer; Mary Kathryn Carpenter, photography editor; Christopher Edmunds, art director; Elizabeth Elkin, writer; Thomas Joa, writer; Jonathan Norris, editor-in-chief; Mary-Margaret Schmidt, photographer; Elayne Smith, writer; Lane Stafford, photographer; Hailey Grace Steele, digital editor; Madison Sullivan, chief copy editor; Danielle Waddell, writer; and Cara Walker, writer.

Dr. Kim Bissell, professor and associate dean of research for the College of Communication and Information Sciences, serves as the founding publisher and faculty advisor for Alpine Living magazine.

C&IS Students Awarded at URCA Conference

Undergraduate students in the College of Communication and Information Sciences were recognized for their research at the 2017 Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (URCA) Conference in March. The conference, a premier annual event at The University of Alabama, provides undergraduates an opportunity to share their research and creative activity in a supportive environment.

Dr. Kim Bissell, director of URCA, professor and associate dean for research in the College of Communication and Information Sciences, said she believes it is important for undergraduate students to participate in research.

“We are surrounded by research in almost every aspect of life but especially in a mediated context,” Bissell said. “I think that, at a minimum, involvement in undergraduate research elevates students’ ability to think critically and to have a broader understanding of the information we are presented with every day.”

Caroline Prichard, a student in the Department of Communication Studies, was awarded first place in the category of Oral Presentation for her research on the impact of cultural values on U.S./Serbian communication.

“It’s great to get a foundation in research so that if you continue to grad school or other paths where research is important, you have some experience,” Prichard said. “Even if your research is still in progress, it’s a great opportunity to get presentation experience.”

Prichard is the associate director of the Serbia Fellowship Experience at the University of Alabama. Her research centered on a two-week fellowship experience in Serbia in May 2016. Using ethnographic and autoethnographic inquiry, including participant observation and interviews with locals, Prichard was able to identify the cultural values and expectations in comparison to those prevalent in U.S. culture.

In addition to providing a greater understanding of Serbian cultural identity, Prichard’s findings also demonstrated areas where there could be communication breakdowns between Serbian and U.S. discourse.

Additional C&IS oral presentation winners included: Amanda Flamerich (second place); Amy Lekai, Dalton Kerby, Madeline Abrams and Hudson Nuckolls (third place)

Poster presentation winners included: Elizabeth Payne (first place), Bryant Bowlin (tie for second place), Xuan Wang (tie for second place) and Sam Sheriff (third place)


Eighth Annual Discerning Diverse Voices Symposium

Photo by: Dr. George Daniels via Twitter

The College of Communication and Information Sciences continued its legacy of celebrating diversity with the eighth annual Discerning Diverse Voices Symposium held at Gorgas Library on Monday, March 27.

The symposium, which has served as a launching pad for further exploration of ways to integrate diversity education and intercultural communication into the College’s curriculum, has drawn national attention to C&IS diversity initiatives. In 2015, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) recognized C&IS with its annual Equity and Diversity Award and cited the Discerning Diverse Voices Symposium as one of the College’s stand out features.

“The Diversity Symposium offers an opportunity for C&IS faculty and students to learn from each other and about diversity in its various iterations,” said Dr. Robin Boylorn, associate professor of communication studies and panel presenter for the event. “[It] gives us a chance to talk through and think through the dynamic ways we engage difference in our scholarship, and it challenges us to do more. It provides a space for dissemination, collaboration, networking, receiving feedback, and being challenged.”

Boylorn, whose recently released book, “The Crunk Feminist Collection,” has been warmly received by feminist scholars and literary critics alike, presented her work on the representation of black masculinity in hip hop films during the symposium’s “Diversity in Media” panel session. Fernando Morales, a UA graduate student in communication studies, and Dr. Sally Paulson, assistant professor in the Department of Language and Literature at Delta State University, also presented their work as part of the panel.

Morales, whose research focuses on the possibilities and tensions that surface when marginalized groups adapt, re-imagine, or enter stories marked as “classic” or “American,” discussed his autoethnographic piece on the struggles of Latino actors in an industry that often stereotypes People of Color in making casting decisions.

In addition to panel presentations on the role of diversity in the media, educational and organizational settings, students across the spectrum of C&IS departments and majors presented research during the morning’s poster session.

Caitlin Dyche, a graduate student in the Department of Journalism and Creative Media, presented her research on the incorporation of emoji into the modern vernacular and its influence on computer-mediated communication.

“While emoji have become universally available, this does not mean that their usage and connotative meanings are also universal,” Dyche wrote in the paper’s abstract. “In fact, the motivation for emoji use is still hotly debated.”

Beyond examining how and why emoji are being used in countries around the world, Dyche also discussed which emoji are being used most often in synchronous computer mediated communication and whether such usage patterns relate significantly to culture.

“It was really great to see some of the research that is being done on diversity both within and across cultures,” Dyche said. “The poster presentations themselves were diverse in their topics and the panel on diversity in film and media was pretty incredible as it looked at how different groups of people are being portrayed from both sides of the silver screen, as well as shows that portray the importance and power of inclusivity and diversity.”

The event culminated with a keynote address by Dr. Clara Chu, director of the Mortensen Center for International Library Programs at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Chu discussed paradigm shifts in research related to diversity.

A New Voice on UA History: Pluck and Grit Podcast

There are new voices on campus telling the age-old stories of The University of Alabama, its rich culture, and tumultuous history. C&IS graduate student Mary Lieb and her co-host, MBA candidate, Joey Weed are the creators of Pluck and Grit podcast, a project devoted to telling the stories of the people and places that have helped shape The University of Alabama.

The podcast series, which began recording interviews last fall, consists of three hour-long episodes with plans to record as many as ten episodes before the pair graduate in May.

The idea for Pluck and Grit was born after Weed spent the summer as an intern for National Public Radio (NPR) in Washington, D.C. While he said his internship focused more on audience research and analytics than communication and journalism, being in the environment inspired him to pursue his long-time interests in podcasting and storytelling.

“I thought, you know, we could really do something like this here and I knew Mary was the perfect person [to partner with],” Weed said.

After meeting for lunch in August, the two agreed that the podcast would focus on The University of Alabama community, local history and individuals’ unique experiences at the Capstone.

“We have this long laundry list of topics and people we can contact – previous administrators and alumni have been really supportive – almost everyone we’ve reached out to has been really eager to share their stories,” Lieb said. “Although we do share a common experience here, everyone has their own unique experience that made the Capstone, the Capstone for them. What we’ve learned is that, despite some of the thorns that the University has, and some of its back story and a lot of its problems, people have still been able to find a home and they’ve been able to find some really great redeeming qualities. That’s what we’re really interested in looking at.”

The podcasts, which can be found on iTunes, Sound Cloud, and the Pluck and Grit website, have explored topics related to the international students community, Big Al and successful entrepreneurship initiatives created by students at UA.

“Checking people’s memories has been really exciting,” Weed said. “For our first story, the Big Al story, we talked to four different people and they all had different views of the order of events, how things happened, things like that.”

The pair said they have spent several hours in the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library sifting through historical documents like The Crimson White, UA’s student newspaper, and Corolla yearbooks.

“We’ve been going to the library to see what the newspaper was writing about and kind of confirm and get a broad sense of the picture of how these stories weave together,” Weed said.

Lieb and Weed, who have both been active in student organizations and the University of Alabama community since their freshman year in 2012, agreed this is one project they may be content to let fare for itself when they depart for Washington, D.C. in May.

“In most of our projects, we work to try to find some avenue of sustainability,” Lieb said. “We’ve thought about working with publications on campus or maybe passing it off, but for the time being this was just a very fun side project.”

Weed echoed the sentiment.

“I think we would be content if [the podcast] just became 8 or 10 episodes,” Weed said. “Maybe if they were within the libraries archives, or on our website, or iTunes so that if a student down the road is searching for interesting things about the University, they can stumble upon these and enjoy them almost like a film or TV show. We’re going to put it out there and then just give people the opportunity to learn a little bit more about the University.”

Dr. Robert Riter – Research Profile

Dr. Robert Riter, assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Studies, recently presented his work on documentary reproduction and the ethics of containment at the Communication and Information in Network Society: Experience and Insights III conference in Vilnius, Lithuania.

His paper examined the ethical issues associated with the digitization of original sources, the intellectual relationships that exist between original sources and their digital surrogates, and the influence of documentary reproduction on artifactual identity. Riter discussed the priority of specific evidential and informational values over others in the digitization process, specifically addressing the originating materiality of the source and its communicative elements. He suggested that the practice provides a context for considering how reproduction and containment practices inform the expression of information and evidence in original sources.

In line with this work, Riter’s primary research interests focus on historical topics associated with the publication of original sources, materiality, intellectual and conceptual foundations of archival thought and practice, and the documentary and archival properties of book art.

Riter received his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh where his dissertation examined American historical documentary editing, particularly focusing on early modern editorial theory, methods, and their influence on documentary production. Riter holds teaching appointments in library and information studies and book arts. He is the coordinator of the SLIS archival studies program and serves as an advisor to the Birmingham Black Radio Museum and The University of Alabama Center for the Study of Tobacco in Society.

Dr. Cynthia Peacock – Research Profile

Dr. Cynthia Peacock is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies in the College of Communication and Information Sciences. A recent addition to the C&IS faculty, Peacock brings several years of teaching and research experience with her to the position. Her research interests focus on political communication, communication theory and media effects.

Peacock’s work with Dr. Peter Leavitt, a social psychologist and visiting professor at Dickinson College, titled “Engaging Young People: Deliberative preferences in discussions about news and politics” was recently published in SocialMedia + Society.

The pair’s study examined the way college students perceive the online world as a venue for political discussion by analyzing responses from six focus groups conducted with college students across the United States. Guided by deliberative theory, the pair found that young people prefer engaging with others who are knowledgeable and remain flexible and calm during discussions. They also found that young people’s goals for engaging in conversations about politics primarily revolved around sharing information and opinions, and that they tended to prefer civil discourses that focused on commonalities rather than differences between people.

Peacock completed her dissertation, titled “Talking Politics: Political Opinion Expression and Avoidance across Conservative, Liberal, and Heterogeneous Groups,” in 2016 as a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to SocialMedia + Society, Peacock has also published work in American Behavioral Scientist and Communication Research Reports. She has also written several grant-funded whitepapers for and presented research at several top communication conferences around the world.


American Journalism Historians Association Southeastern Symposium

Seven graduate students from the College of Communication and Information Sciences Department of Journalism and Creative Media traveled to Panama City, Florida to present research at the American Journalism Historians Association Southeast Symposium last weekend.

The two-day conference takes place in late January or early February each year and is designed to promote graduate and undergraduate student research through a scholarly forum of research presentations and discussion. Students are selected by faculty from participating institutions to present their research in a welcoming and encouraging setting.

Faculty from The University of Alabama, the University of Florida, the University of North Florida, Georgia State University and Samford University attended the conference.

Student papers are not reviewed for acceptance, but are judged by faculty to determine awards for the best papers in undergraduate and graduate student categories. UA student Ben Pockstaller was awarded first place for Best Graduate Student Paper. Kaylin Bowen and Hailey Grace Steele, also UA students, received second and third place, respectively.

“Earning an award is an honor, but I was really just happy to be there,” Pockstaller said. “I put quite a few hours into this paper, so getting to present it to some very smart people was rewarding. Everyone in my class worked very hard. They’re all super-talented folks, and I was just proud to be alongside them in all this.”

JCM faculty member Dr. Dianne Bragg teaches UA’s graduate course in media history and is also the AJHA symposium coordinator. UA students who attended the symposium include:  Kaylin Bowen (thesis track), Christopher Edmunds (thesis track), Samantha Hill (community journalism), Keith Huffman (community journalism), Ben Pockstaller (community journalism), Oliver Simpson (thesis track) and Hailey Grace Steele (thesis track).

Dr. Eyun-Jung Ki – Research Profile

Dr. Eyun-Jung Ki is an assistant professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. A graduate of the University of Florida, Ki’s research interest focus on organization-public relationship management and its measurement, emerging media in public relations, and organization sustainability communications.

In a recent study, Ki assessed the progress of research on global public relations from 2001 to 2014 and suggests that – given the steady increase in the number of articles addressing global public relations – the field should shift from description to theorization and work to establish theories specific to global public relations with methodological diversification.

Designed to investigate the trends, patterns and rigors of research studies examining global public relations, the study conducted a content analysis of published articles in public relations journals as well as other communication journals between 2001 and 2014. During the time span outlined, a total of 163 articles examined topics related to global public relations. The United States was the nation of most frequent focus in the articles, followed by China, the United Kingdom and South Korea.

In addition to 40 peer-reviewed publications, four conference proceedings, six book chapters, and 53 conference presentations, Ki is also an Arthur W. Page Legacy Scholar and a Plank Center Scholar. Her work has been published in the International Journal of Strategic Communication, Public Relations Review, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Computer and Human Behavior, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, among others.


Electionland at UA

The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ Department of Journalism and Creative Media is partnering with a coalition of organizations to create a virtual newsroom that will produce stories on voting problems as they happen. The initiative, termed Electionland, is one of the first of its kind.

By creating a virtual newsroom to produce stories on voting problems in real time, and by distributing leads about voting problems to local journalists who can follow up on them, the project aims to help those who might have been turned away to cast their ballots. It’s an issue ProPublica believes is particularly urgent this election cycle because of new legislation that could affect citizens’ access to the ballot box, and because of the doubt cast on the validity of the system by one of the presidential candidates.

“There is no more essential act in a democracy than voting,” ProPublica stated in a news release announcing Electionland. “But making sure that the balloting is open to all and efficiently administered has been, at best, a low priority for many state legislatures, a victim of misplaced priorities and, at times, political gamesmanship.”

Chip Brantley, senior lecturer of emerging media, and his team of C&IS faculty and students will aid the organization in its initiative this Election Day from their own newsroom on The University of Alabama’s campus. Using a variety of social networking sites, data software and reporting systems, the team of approximately 30 students will monitor polling sites across the states of Alabama and Mississippi.

By viewing users’ posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, the “feeders” will report voting problems to a team of professional journalists assigned to specific regions of the country. From there, the national Electionland desk – also staffed by professional journalists – will liveblog pertinent election happenings and appear on national media to discuss these issues as needed.

The University of Alabama’s Department of Journalism and Creative Media is one of only 14 journalism programs in the nation selected to participate in this year’s Electionland. Other programs include: Columbia University, CUNY, the University of North Carolina and the University of Missouri. Corporate and organizational sponsors include: ProPublica, Google News Lab, Univision, First Draft, and USA Today Network.

C&IS professors Dr. Kim Bissell, Dr. Scott Parrott, Dr. Jen Hoewe and Meredith Cummings have also contributed to the UA Electionland project.