Author: Rand Nelson

Research and Creative Activity: Dr. Elliot Panek

Dr. Elliot Panek

In some sense, everyone is part of a community, but, in an era when millions of people interact with one another online, how do we define “community?” Why do most online communities fail while others flourish? These are some of the questions C&IS professor of journalism and creative media, Dr. Elliot Panek, is asking, and he’s analyzed millions of comments on Reddit to help find the answers.

Reddit is a popular website that hosts large-group discussions on thousands of different topics, ranging from politics to relationship advice. The team examined six years of data within 30 different popular Reddit groups or “sub-reddits,” analyzing the influence of group size and the passage of time on two characteristics of online communities: the dispersion of participation in group discussion and the active member turnover from month to month.

“Some people dabble in online communities just to get a question answered or participate in a forum,” said Panek. “For other people, online communities are central to their lives. What we’re trying to understand is when online community life becomes central to people.”

The results of this study found that, as online discussion groups grow, participation in discussion tends to become concentrated among fewer and fewer contributors. Additionally, as groups age, it becomes harder to retain new contributors.

This data provides answers to fundamental questions about establishing and growing online communities, as well as how to keep existing group contributors active in the online community. These findings are useful for communication professionals who work in areas such as social media account management, application development, marketing, online education and organizational communication with the public online.

“Online communities are easy enough to create, but the question is, ‘Are they going to be here in six months?’ For the vast majority, the answer is no,” said Panek. “Our research suggests that the creators of online communities need to be more proactive in incentivizing and encouraging widespread participation to motivate group members to stick around and be more active in the conversation.”

In addition to Panek, the team is comprised of Connor Hollenbach, Jinjie Yang and Tyler Rhodes all of whom are undergraduate or graduate students at The University of Alabama. To read the full results of their published research titled, “The Effects of Group Size and Time on the Formation of Online Communities: Evidence From Reddit,” click here.

The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ faculty and students at The University of Alabama conduct cutting-edge research that creates knowledge and provides solutions to global issues across the full communication and information spectrum. To learn more about the College’s research initiatives, visit cis.ua.edu/research.

Read All About It!

Journalism and Creative Media students help Oakdale Elementary students create a newspaper for their community. 

Through the C&IS course, News Design and Visualization, journalism and creative media students work with children at nearby Oakdale Elementary School to help the kids create their own community newspaper: The Oakdale Eagle.

Founded in 2011 by a small group of Oakdale Elementary personnel and UA collaborators, the Oakdale Eagle has become a schoolwide endeavor. In 2018-19, 10 children worked as Oakdale Eaglereporters in tandem with 13 University of Alabama students enrolled in JCM 320 News Design and Visualization. By the end of the academic year, they will have published four editions of the newspaper for the Oakdale community.

Oakdale Elementary is located in an economically disadvantaged area of Tuscaloosa, and a majority of its students come from low-income families.

Dr. Rebecca Britt, who teaches the class is an associate professor in the department of journalism and creative media. She tells her students it’s important to let each child’s creative spirit shine through in his or her writing.

“I had to take a back seat and know what I wanted to say wasn’t important; it was what the kids wanted to say,” says Jennifer Smith, a senior majoring in sports journalism.

Zharia Simmons, a fifth grader who has been part of the program for three years, wrote an article in Fall 2018 about Oakdale’s new fifth-grade teachers. She said her favorite part of the process was “typing up the articles and the different drafts.”

Latrina Spencer, an Oakdale Eagle faculty advisor and kindergarten teacher, says Zharia and her classmates have gained confidence through the program. “It lets them warm up to people and come out of their shells,” she says.

Britt says the relationship between the Oakdale Elementary community and the UA students is reciprocal.

The experience enhances the UA students’ communication and collaborative skills and gives them a chance to interact with the Tuscaloosa community and develop their portfolios, she says.

Oakdale Elementary recently extended its journalism program internationally by forming partnerships with schools in El Salvador and Kuwait. Melissa Kent, the library media specialist at Oakdale Elementary, says UA students and faculty have assisted throughout the expansion process.

Dr. George Daniels, assistant dean of administration for C&IS, was instrumental in establishing the UA-Oakdale partnership. Daniels coordinated a professional-development event in which Oakdale journalism-program advisors me with UA communications faculty members. He also has introduced Oakdale teachers and students to opportunities in public speaking, global communications, broadcasting, public relations and more. “He has been the guiding light to developing this program,” Kent says.

The alliance has fostered an extraordinary program for the young minds of Oakdale Elementary, Britt says, and some children continue pursuing journalism projects in middle school.

“Anytime you go out of your way to take a leadership role and help others, it benefits you,” says Mackenzie McClintock, a senior majoring in sports journalism. “It helps you grow as a person.”

To learn more about Oakdale Elementary School’s journalism program, the Oakdale Eagle, or the JCM 320 News Design and Visualization course, contact Dr. Rebecca Britt at rkbritt@ua.eduor Dr. George Daniels at gdaniels@ua.edu.


Story by Isabell Page | Photos by Jackie Sutton and Olivia Keasling

UA to Screen NBC’s ‘Hope and Fury’

In advance of the 2019 observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a team of producers of a recently released documentary about the civil rights leader and the power of the media will visit The University of Alabama later this month.

Award-winning Producer and Directors Rachel Dretzin and Phil Bertelsen will screen “Hope & Fury: MLK, The Movement and The Media” on Monday, January 14, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. in Gorgas Library 205. As a part of the screening, they’ll share with UA students, faculty and staff on the story behind the documentary film that examines how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and leaders of the civil rights movement used the power of print and visual media, especially television, to awaken America to the shame and injustice of racial inequality

“We are looking forward to having this top-notch team that has produced projects for PBS’ Frontline and now for NBC and MSNBC come to our campus and engage with our UA community,” said Dr. George Daniels, assistant dean for administration in College of Communication and Information Sciences. “I know Ms. Dretzin and Mr. Bertelsen will help our students understand the work of Dr. King in a whole new way.”

First premiering on NBC last March, leading up to the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King, “Hope & Fury: MLK, The Movement and the Media” combines firsthand personal recollections with rare, archival footage and photographs—some previously unseen to spotlight the role of media not only back in the 1950s and 1960s, but also more recently in protests over police brutality.

“This screening is one of several programs that The University of Alabama Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Committee has coordinated for this year’s campus celebration,” said Dr. G. Christine Taylor, Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “The committee has chosen the theme ‘The Fierce Urgency of Now: A Day on Not a Day Off’ for this year’s celebration.”

The College and its academic units including the School of Library and Information Studies, and the Departments of Communication Studies, Advertising and Public Relations, and Journalism and Creative Media joined forces to bring Dretzin and Bertelsen to Tuscaloosa.

“In some way, ‘Hope and Fury’ touches what we do in C&IS in all our units here in the College from preparing archival students to public relations tactics, news reporting and filmmaking. It’s the perfect project for us to support across the College,” said Daniels. “We are looking forward to sponsoring this event for the entire University community.”

C&IS Students Work SEC Championship Game

From Left: Ali Schroeder, Aubrey Losack and Jordan Wynn celebrate with streamers after the SEC Championship Game

This year’s SEC Championship football game was the second-most watched ever, with more than 17.5 million viewers tuning in to see the Crimson Tide beat the Georgia Bulldogs 35-28. C&IS students, Aubrey Losack, Jordan Wynn and Ali Schroeder, made key contributions to this national sports moment by facilitating communication between industry professionals.

In partnership with SEC Communications, UA Athletics Communications chose three student representatives to work the SEC Championship game in Atlanta, Georgia on December 1. The selected students are all current C&IS students, from the departments of advertising and public relations, and journalism and creative media. At the event, the students navigated the fast-paced environment to aid the media, pull footage and organize content all while working alongside seasoned journalists and producers in a creative yet demanding opportunity.

Current journalism and creative media senior, Aubrey Losack, shared her experience leading up to and during the event.

“This experience helped me grow towards a career in sports media relations,” said Losack. “I was able to see both the game and the media relations industry from different perspectives.”

Losack and the two other selected student workers arrived the night before the game to help assemble media packets for the game. The following day, they met with the SEC Commissioner, Greg Sankey, to talk about the future of sports communications and gain insight into a career in broadcasting or sports media. The rest of the day was spent aiding communications professionals and preparing the press box to run efficiently.

“This was one of the best experiences I have ever had,” said Losack. “Being able to see what goes on behind the scenes was a learning experience that is hard to replicate anywhere else.”

Mills and Carmack Speak on Bullying at Shriners Hospital

Associate Professors of communication studies, Drs. Carol Mills and Heather Carmack, presented on bullying in health care organizations to an audience of medical personnel on November 6 at Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Mills and Carmack’s presentations were part of the larger engagement and outreach efforts of the National Communication Association’s (NCA) Anti-Bullying Task Force. In a partnership with Shriners Hospitals for Children, the presentations will be screened at all of their 22 hospital locations.

Mills’ research specializes in what is referred to as, “the dark side of communication,” or the role of communication in behaviors that negatively impact our personal and professional relationships such as bullying and domestic violence. Carmack is one of only three people globally whose research focuses on communication about and surrounding medical errors and patient safety. The duo is currently developing a research grant that will study the relationship between medical errors and bullying.

“There is research which suggests that whenever nurses or providers are bullied, it has a negative impact on patient outcomes, including medical error and patient safety,” Carmack said. “There’s plenty of theoretical thought pieces that connect bullying and medical errors, but there’s no current study that connects them empirically.”

According to Carmack, the hospital is known for being an environment where bullying exists at an institution level. In fact, nurses have one of the highest bullying rates of any profession nationwide.

“In healthcare a lot of bullying that happens is with the intention to squash and silence,” Carmack said. “If you don’t feel comfortable reporting others, or voicing concerns without some kind of retribution, that’s how medical errors happen.”

Together, the team saw this as a great opportunity to apply their research in helping make a difference and initiate a change in culture.

“As researchers, we spend a lot of time publishing our results, but if our research doesn’t actually help the people we’re studying, I think we’ve missed the mark,” said Mills, co-chair of the Anti-Bullying Task Force. “We know enough about bullying that we can help people who are targets, and we can help leaders create environments where bullying never happens because of the open, positive channels of communication.”

The National Communication Association’s Anti-Bullying Project strives to foster collaborations between Communication scholars and other stakeholders in anti-social aggression efforts in order to contribute rich insights and resources to broader conversations on the complex and multi-faceted issue of bullying.

 The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ faculty and students at The University of Alabama conduct cutting-edge research that creates knowledge and provides solutions to global issues across the full communication and information spectrum. To learn more about the College’s research initiatives, visit cis.ua.edu/research.

C&IS’ Dr. Kenon Brown Speaks at Charley Steiner Symposium on Sports Communication

Associate Professor of advertising and public relations, Dr. Kenon Brown, was invited to speak at Bradley University’s Fourth Annual Charley Steiner Symposium on Sports Communication last week.

The annual symposium is the Charley Steiner School of Sports Communication’s pinnacle event, linking a small handful of professors with industry professionals, prominent athletes and other major players in the sports world.

Brown guest lectured for a class Wednesday afternoon and participated in a panel at the Symposium on Critical Issues in the Field of Sports Communication alongside Pro Football Hall of Fame President, David Baker and Eastern Michigan University’s Professor of Sport Management, Erica Zonder.

“To be invited to this symposium to speak on a panel and have my voice heard in this kind of critical sense is a tremendous honor,” said Brown. “It is honestly something I did not expect this early in my career, and it is definitely an accolade I will hang my hat on.”

Brown’s insight into the sports world is unique, as he is an authoritative voice from both an academic and industry perspective. His research interests include image and reputation management, particularly in sports, and minority recruitment in mass communication. Beyond his research, his work in the sport and entertainment industry includes partnerships with organizations such as the International Olympic Committee, FOX Sports, Twitch, NASCAR and the Country Music Association.

“The fact that Kenon Brown was invited to attend is just another of many examples that his work has reached the highest echelon of academic achievement in sports media scholarship,” said Dr. Andrew Billings. “It’s a very deserved honor and I’d expect many more like them in the coming years for Kenon. He’s a powerful, informed voice in the discipline.”

The Charley Steiner School of Sports Communication at Bradley University is the first named sports communication school in the nation. The school is named in honor of world-class broadcaster Charley Steiner, a four-time Emmy Award winner and National Radio Hall of Fame inductee in his 11th season as a play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Steiner spent 14 years anchoring SportsCenter at ESPN while broadcasting baseball, football and boxing. As the first named school of sports communication, it is uniquely positioned for national distinction as it continues to build upon the successes of Bradley University’s premier program.

Plank Center Celebrates Milestones in Mentoring at 9th Annual Gala

The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations celebrated its 9thAnnual “Milestones in Mentoring” Gala at the Union League Club of Chicago on Thursday, Oct. 25. More than 300 public relations professionals, educators and students were in attendance, including more than 20 faculty, staff, students and alumni from The University of Alabama.

Each year, the Center recognizes influential leaders whose commitment to mentoring generates a powerhouse of influence and accelerates success in the profession.

Honorees at this year’s mentorship gala included:

  • Legacy:Bob Feldman, partner and co-founder, PulsePoint Group
  • Agency: Dale Bornstein, CEO, M Booth
  • Emerging Leader: Eric Winkfield, public affairs manager, Pepco
  • Educator: Cathy Rogers, Shawn M. Donnelley Professor of Nonprofit Communications, Loyola University New Orleans School of Mass Communication
  • Corporate: Bob Jimenez, senior vice president, corporate affairs, Cox Enterprises
  • Executive: Gregg Sherrill, chairman of the board of directors, Tenneco
  • Mentorship: Tom Burrell, former founder and CEO, Burrell Communications

UA faculty, staff and students also had the opportunity to attend a mentorship panel at DePaul University prior to the gala as well as a diversity and inclusion summit Friday morning.

“The evening is not only an opportunity to honor the leading mentors in our field, but also to show off some of UA’s finest, especially our students,” said Dr. Karla Gower, director of The Plank Center and professor in UA’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations.

While some refer to it as “The Oscars of Public Relations,” others deem it “The Best Night in PR,” as the evening takes on an unmatched energy to inspire those in attendance to mentor the next generation of leaders.

More information on the Milestones in Mentoring Gala is available on The Plank Center’s website (www.plankcenter.ua.edu).

About the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations

In 2005, the University of Alabama Board of Trustees established The Plank Center. Named for public relations leader and UA alumna, the late Betsy Plank, the Center develops and recognizes outstanding diverse public relations leaders, role models and mentors to advance ethical public relations in an evolving, global society through a variety of initiatives.

In addition to national leaders in the practice and education, the Center’s Board includes an ex officio position for the president of the Public Relations Student Society of America that represents more than 10,000 members in 300-plus colleges and universities.

C&IS Students Behind ‘Fearful Girl’ Project

Emeline Earman (left) and MK Holladay pose with Fearful Girl in Manhattan, New York.

At only four feet, two inches tall, she weighs in at nearly 250 pounds of solid bronze. She stands daily in the Financial District of Manhattan, New York, staring down the Charging Bull of Wall Street. And for one hour on Friday, Nov. 2, the Fearless Girl did something even braver.

In a partnership between Change the Ref and Fight Gunfire with Fire, Manuel Oliver, the father of Parkland school shooting victim, Joaquin “Guac” Oliver, placed a bulletproof vest on Fearless Girl and dubbed her “Fearful Girl.” Change the Ref tweeted out, “She can’t be fearless if she’s afraid to go to school.”

You have probably seen her pictures by now, but what you may not have known is that behind Fearful Girl are two University of Alabama students, Emeline Earman and MK Holladay. Together with Mingyu Jo (ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena), the trio thought up the idea during their summer internship at MullenLowe Group.

“Like most ideas, this started out as something different. Initially the idea was to put a bulletproof vest on the Statue of Liberty,” said Earman. “Our executive creative director mentioned it to a creative director in the Boston office who had the idea to put it on Fearless Girl.”

Earman, Holladay and Jo knew the idea had potential, but were not certain it would go anywhere. The concept was tabled until about a month and a half ago, when they were called and invited to New York to see the project carried through.

“The concept works because it clearly communicates the intended message,” said Mark Barry, Director of Minerva, the creative advertising specialization at UA. “But more importantly, what makes it great is that it communicates that message in an unexpected way. It allows room for the audience to do a little work on their own to really ‘get it.’”

According to Barry, the creative advertising industry is constantly doing work on the cultural fringes of brand communications, using advertising as a powerful vehicle for cultural change. Within a few hours #FearfulGirl was trending on social media and the story was covered by media outlets such as ADWeek and affiliates of Fox News, CBS and NBC across the country.

Barry is proud of the student duo, whom he describes as “A well-rounded and dynamic creative team.” Their message rings loud and clear throughout the world.

“I think we all hope we can enact change, but at the end of the day, ideas like this are only cool if they do,” said Holladay. “Manuel’s shirt said, ‘Sorry for the inconvenience, we are trying to change the world.’ That’s certainly a sentiment we share.”

Change the Ref was formed to empower future leaders, using urban art and nonviolent creative confrontation to expose the disastrous effects of the mass shooting pandemic. Find out more at their website, here.

Fight Gunfire With Fire is a creative force stewarded by industry and thought leaders banding together. They take big, thought-provoking creative ideas and make them real to create a million of solutions that will end gun violence. Find out more at their website, here.

Minerva is the creative advertising specialization at The University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences. Find out more on their website, here.

NBA

The NBA is seeking a graduate for a full-time position as a part of their social content publishing team. This position is part of the NBA Emerging Media group which focuses on identifying, creating, distributing and publishing content for the NBA’s social and digital platforms and its many domestic and international partners throughout the world. As the demand for content on the NBA’s social platforms continues to grow, this is your opportunity to grow with them in a fast-paced, innovative and collaborative environment. This is a project employee position based out of the Secaucus, New Jersey office that is intended to continue throughout the 2018-19 NBA season.

Major Responsibilities:

  • Publish content to the NBA’s social media handles on various platforms (Including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, GIPHY and Tik Tok) to promote NBA games and drive engagement across platforms
  • Provide real-time game coverage across the league on the NBA’s social media handles from the NBA’s Content Command Center (This will include nights and weekends)
  • Write short-form copy and post highlights to share across the NBA’s social media handles in real-time
  • Become an expert on each social media platform and bring new ideas to the table for the NBA to further engage current fans and reach new audiences
  • Stay on top of social trends to help inform the NBA’s content creation for social media handles
  • Actively participating in content planning for the NBA’s social media handles
  • Potential to cover NBA events by publishing behind-the-scenes content to the NBA’s social media handles

 

Required Skills/Knowledge:

  • Deeply knowledgeable and passionate about the NBA, WNBA and NBA G League and their players, coaches, and teams
  • Knowledge of basketball analytics and the rules of the game
  • Strong knowledge and understanding of social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, GIPHY and Tik Tok
  • Background in social media or digital media publishing
  • Strong writing and communication skills, as well as ability to execute editorial judgment
  • Basic knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite
  • Ability and willingness to work on deadline and handle multiple tasks at once with a precise and detail-oriented approach
  • Ability and willingness to work both independently and as part of a team

 

Education:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Communications or related field preferred

 

To learn more about this posting, or to apply, visit their website by clicking here.

Paste Magazine

Paste magazine is looking for editorial and social media interns to join them in their Decatur, Ga., office. Winter/spring internships begin in January and conclude in May. The application deadline is Friday, Nov. 16.

They’re looking for smart, talented and hungry writers/editors who love music, movies and all that jazz. On the social side, they want to hear from you if you are glued to Twitter all day, and can brainstorm creative and hilarious content for all of our social platforms. Internships are unpaid, though all in-house interns will receive a $500 stipend. Typical hours are 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, though scheduling is flexible to accommodate classes and part-time jobs. In-house candidates are preferred, though remote interns will also be considered.

As an intern, you won’t be making anyone coffee, unless you want some, in which case you will make your own. Instead, you’ll be working with their editorial staff, writing and editing daily, as well as handling administrative tasks, such as assessing the CDs we receive each week. Social media interns will be based in the Decatur, Ga., office, and will help manage all of Paste’s social media platforms.

If all this is music to your ears, editorial applicants can send a resume, cover letter and (preferably published) clips to internships@pastemagazine.com. Social applicants can send a resume, cover letter and social media handles to annie@pastemagazine.com. Be sure to note education (with GPA), relevant experience, any specific sections you are interested in, and why you want to intern at Paste. Find more info on their internship page here, and feel free to reach out with any questions.