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CJC at the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium

March 3 – 5, 2016
Baton Rouge, La.

Clay Calvert, professor, Department of Journalism

Copyright in Inanimate Characters: The Disturbing Proliferation of Microworks and Its Negative Effects on Copyright and Free Expression

Co-Author: Matthew Bunker, Reese Phifer Professor of Journalism, University of Alabama.

Award: Top Faculty Paper, Law and Policy Division

Abstract: Using the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s September 2015 decision in DC Comics v. Towle as an analytical springboard, this paper examines and critiques growing judicial recognition of copyright in inanimate characters.  In Towle, the Ninth Circuit held that the Batmobile – a fictional car driven by a fictional superhero – was copyrightable.  The paper explores the problems with the Ninth Circuit’s analysis and argues that increasing copyright protection for what the authors call “microworks” is misguided and harms First Amendment interests.

Fissures, Fractures & Doctrinal Drifts: Paying the Price in First Amendment Jurisprudence for a Half-Decade of Avoidance, Minimalism & Partisanship

Co-Author: Matthew Bunker, Reese Phifer Professor of Journalism, University of Alabama.

 Abstract: This paper examines how the U.S. Supreme Court’s adherence to principles of constitutional avoidance and judicial minimalism, along with partisan rifts among the justices, have detrimentally affected multiple First Amendment doctrines over the past five years.  The doctrines analyzed here include true threats, broadcast indecency, offensive expression, government speech and strict scrutiny, as well as the fundamental dichotomy between content-based and content-neutral regulations.  Cases addressed in this paper include, among others, a quartet of Supreme Court rulings from 2015: 1) Elonis v. United States; 2) Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans; 3) Reed v. Town of Gilbert; and 4) Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar.

Holly Cowart, PhD candidate

Privileging Privacy: How Media Frames Big Data

Abstract: This content analysis identifies how online news media present the topic of big data. Stories from general-audience online news and tech-targeted online news publications are evaluated for their representation of big data as a potential benefit to society or as something that has more disadvantages. Using second-level agenda setting as the theoretical basis, this study analyzes 80 articles from eight online news publications. It finds privacy is a primary theme for both general-audience news sites and tech-targeted news sites. The general-audience news sites and tech-targeted news sites do not vary greatly in their emphasis on the disadvantages of big data. However, the tech-targeted news sites have a greater focus on the beneficial potential of big data.

Carrying Credibility: How News Distribution Affects Reader Judgment 

Abstract: This experiment examines the impact of online platforms on source credibility. Using a traditional news media with an online presence and an online-only news media it compares news content on three platforms (website, Facebook, Twitter). Results of the 146-person experiment indicate a difference in perceived credibility among platforms. The traditional news media sees a significant drop in credibility between the website and the two social media sites. The online-only news media does not. The implications of these finding are discussed in terms of the changing way that news is presented. News media distribute their content to apps and social media sites. Based on this study, that distribution may result in a loss in credibility for the news source.

Stephanie McNeff

Privacy, Speech and Smartphones: First and Fourth Amendment Perspectives on When Students’ Rights and New Communication Technologies Collide on Campus.

Abstract: Using the September 2015 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Jackson v. Ladner and the 2009 opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court in Safford v. Redding as analytical springboards, this paper examines how both the First and Fourth Amendments likely will be applied in the near future to public school students and their digital communication devices. In Redding, the Supreme Court embraced social science evidence to highlight the intense vulnerabilities of high school students and their subjective expectations of privacy. Legal scholars and, particularly, the Fifth Circuit in its recent decision in Jackson, suggest that Redding’s vulnerability arguments can be stretched to protect students from searches of their smartphones and from punishment based on speech found during such searches. Furthermore, this paper applies the logic of both Redding and Jackson to analyze the constitutionality of an Illinois statute that allows for searches of personal communication devices.

Ernest Rice, PhD candidate

High bandwidth photos:  Do selfies promote more warranting than other photos?

Abstract: A content analysis of 28 athletes Instagram photo content was conducted to determine what types of photographic content promoted more warranting feedback than other types of photographs and how they were used by athletes of different genders, sport popularities (high or low profile), individual or team athletes, and to determine if selfie photographs promoted more feedback than other types of photographs.  Significance was found in the feedback received by team sport and male athletes, but not in the profile level or in the selfie photograph condition.  Exploratory factors for consubstantiation, withdrawal, and faceism were coded for and differences were found to exist in in these areas for all hypotheses.

High bandwidth photos:  Do selfies photos override warranting through consubstantiation?   

Abstract: This study is an experiment on social perception of selfie vs. portrait photographs and how they are perceived using positive, neutral, and negative comments from others to warrant the individual as a manipulation.  Warranting theory posits that positive feedback in the form of comments from others will increase the likability of the individual to a greater degree than what that individual can say about himself or herself. This study found that someone would be more likely to send a Facebook friend request to someone with positive instead of neutral valence feedback and that for physical attractiveness, the positive valence portraits were viewed as more physically attractive when compared to negative or neutral valence portrait photographs.

Rick Shumate, PhD candidate

Framing Barry Goldwater: The Extreme Reaction to his 1964 “Extremism” speech

Award:  Top Student Paper in in the History Division

Abstract:  The fight for the 1964 Republican presidential nomination was an institutional turning point in the life of the Grand Old Party. With methodic organization, conservative forces aligned with U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona quietly seized control of the party machinery from the elite Eastern establishment that had dominated the party for a generation. Accepting his party’s nomination at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco, Goldwater delivered what became one of the most infamous speeches in American political history, capped by the line, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” When read or watched today, Goldwater’s speech comes off as a relatively innocuous recitation of the basic tenets of conservatism. But back in 1964, the speech set off a firestorm among elite opinion leaders in both media and politics, who denounced it as a dangerous appeal to reactionary elements on the political right. Using a contextual analysis of media coverage of the convention, this paper posits that elite media framing of the convention helped prime that extreme reaction to the speech, irrespective of its actual content. This coverage is exemplified by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CBS News, and three contributing frames which contributed to the negative reaction—combat within the party, extremism within the Goldwater coalition, and the perception Goldwater was hostile to civil rights—are identified and explicated. Given that the perception among conservatives of a liberal bias in the media took root during the Goldwater campaign, this paper advances scholarly knowledge by exploring the origins of that perception, which colors American politics to this day.

Pride and Prejudice: Anita Bryant, Same-Sex Marriage, and “Hitler’s View” in The Miami Herald

Abstract:  In their quest to create the perception of balance in coverage of LGBT issues, the media in the past often included inaccurate, stereotypical, and defamatory charges leveled by anti-LGBT forces—for example, accusing LGBT people of being amoral, indecent, perverse, sinful, or ungodly, or of recruiting children or molesting children. One of the advocacy groups highly critical of such reporting, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD), dubbed these frames as “Hitler’s view,” arguing that the media, in a misguided quest for balance, were propagating hate speech. Using a content analysis of news coverage in The Miami Herald, this study explored whether, and to what extent, the media had abandoned inclusion of such frames in coverage and also how the terminology used to describe LGBT people and issues has changed over time. The Herald’s coverage of three different LGBT controversies in Florida was examined: A acrimonious campaign in 1977 by singer Anita Bryant to overturn an ordinance outlawing anti-LGBT discrimination in Metro Dade County, the first time such an ordinance had been overturned by popular vote in the United States; a 2008 initiative to insert a ban on same-sex marriage into Florida’s Constitution; and a series of court cases in 2014-15 that resulted in that ban being struck down by a federal judge. The results showed statistically significant differences in the use of characterizations and terminology across the three periods, indicating that media coverage of LGBT issues and people has changed over time.


Jing (Taylor) Wen, PhD candidate

An Incongruent Picture of Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Genetic Tests: Qualitative Framing Analysis on Newspapers and 23andMe’s Press Releases

Abstract:  This exploratory study analyzed the content of two American newspapers and the press releases from an online genetic testing company, 23andMe, in an attempt to examine how they convey information about direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of genetic tests. Drawing upon framing theory, this study indicated that news articles and press releases commonly discuss DTCA of genetic tests in terms of skepticism, debate, regulation, empowerment, impact, credibility and official update. Specifically, the conservative newspaper regarded this topic as a regulation issue and expressed concern about the lack of regulation in this field. Therefore, it focused on the skepticism theme in discussing the potential risks of the tests and the necessity of regulation. The liberal newspaper considered DTCA of genetic tests as a science issue, and therefore concentrated on the potential benefits and the validity of the tests, with an overall reliance on the empowerment and debate frames. The DTCA company’s press releases, on the other hand, presented more credibility and impact frames with the purpose of reputation building. Additionally, both newspapers relied on experts as information sources; however, the conservative newspaper cited more government officials. In contrast, the press releases mainly quoted the words from company officials. The implications of this study will allow genetic testing scientists and professionals to understand how the media and the company may be influencing consumers’ perceptions about the topic in different ways, and also allow them to strategize how to shape future communication about DTCA of genetic tests.

Jing (Taylor) Wen, Naa Amponsah Dodoo, Linwan Wu (PhD candidates)

The Young Maintain, the Old Regulate: The Age Effects on Sequential Mixed Emotions

Abstract: Ads with mixed emotions can capture audience’s attention and therefore be persuasive. By using Socio-emotional Selectivity Theory as a theoretical framework, this research examines the influence of age and sequential mixed emotions on persuasion. Findings indicate that older people exhibit more favorable evaluation than younger people when exposed to an appeal with improving mixed emotions (i.e., negative then positive), because older people are better at emotion regulation. In contrast, when exposed to declining appeal (i.e., positive then negative), young and old people evaluate the ad positively, because both age groups are able to maintain positive emotions. Theoretical and practical implications are also discussed.

Posted: March 1, 2016
Category: College News, Research News