Research and Insights

CJC at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Conference 2019

Aug. 7 – 10, 2019

Dr. Clay Calvert, Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication, Journalism Department

Troll Storms and Tort Liability for Speech Urging Action by Others

Award:  First Place Faculty Paper, Law & Policy Division

Abstract: This paper examines when speakers, consistent with First Amendment principles of free expression, can be held tortiously responsible for the actions of others with whom they have no contractual or employer-employee relationship.  Recent lawsuits against Daily Stormer publisher Andrew Anglin for sparking “troll storms” provide timely analytical springboards.  The issue is particularly problematic when a speaker’s message urging action does not fall into an unprotected category of expression such as incitement or true threats and thus, were it not for tort law, would be fully protected.  The paper also reviews the U.S. Supreme Court’s “authorized, directed, or ratified” test for vicarious liability established more than thirty-five years ago in the pre-Internet era case of NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co.  The paper concludes by proposing a framework for vicarious liability when speakers urge action that results in others’ tortious conduct.

Wither Zauderer, Blossom Heightened Scrutiny?

Abstract: This paper examines how the United States Supreme Court’s 2018 decisions in the First Amendment cases of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra and Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees muddle an already disorderly compelled-speech doctrine.  Specifically, dual five-to-four decisions in Becerra and Janus raise key questions about the level of scrutiny – either a heightened test or a deferential variant of rational basis review – against which statutes compelling expression should be measured.  Critically, Becerra illustrates the willingness of the Court’s conservative justices to narrowly confine the aging compelled-speech test from Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel.  Furthermore, the paper explores how Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurrence in a third 2018 decision – Masterpiece Cake shop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission– heightens problems with the compelled-speech doctrine.  The paper concludes by proposing multiple criteria for the Court to consider when determining the level of scrutiny to use in compelled-speech cases.

Media Mea Culpas and Journalistic Transparency: When News Outlets Publicly Investigate Their Reportage

Abstract: This paper examines some important legal issues and implications surrounding reports commissioned by journalism organizations like Rolling Stoneto investigative their own journalistic flaws and failures. Specifically, the paper explores how such reports carry the danger in cases such as Eramo v. Rolling Stone, LLCof blurring the crucial line separating journalism ethics from media law. Additionally, the paper examines the possible impact of third-party reports on the critical issue of truth and falsity in defamation lawsuits.

Panel: Law & Gaming Issues in Tech

Description: On September 13, 2018, the Weather Channel ran a predictive, radical, visualization of the Hurricane Florence surge, showing three-, six-, and nine-foot water levels terrifyingly surrounding a studio anchor. The visual dramatically departed from typical color-coded-map-sassy-cloud weather coverage in its use of Unreal Engine, a program of cutting-edge software tools that have typically powered high-end gaming apps. The panel will discuss whether this storm coverage was unprecedented, to legal scholars in the United States and Vietnam, in its potential to raise legal and policy questions related to embellishment. In doing so, the panel will discuss legal, policy, and ethical implications of news coverage enabled by gaming technology in those two nations. When can sensational visualization, brilliant and useful as it is, amount to a form of fake news? Would it potentially invoke legal pitfalls, such as distortions and fictionalizations that invade privacy? What are some recent legal disputes involving gaming-tech use in news coverage? Goal: to offer a legal and policy critique of the (quickly increasing) use of gaming technology in news coverage that transcends geographical borders.

Dr. Sylvia Chan-Olmsted, professor, Telecommunication Department

Binge Watching: Motivations, Demographics, and Television Program Genres

Authors: Jiyoung Cha, San Francisco State; Sylvia Chan-Olmsted

Abstract: Binge watching is a notable phenomenon that is changing the production, distribution, and consumption of television programs. Building upon the uses and gratification theory, this study seeks to better understand binge-watching behaviors. A national survey of U.S. adults identified motivations that predict the frequency of binge watching, the amount of time spent binge watching and the quantity of binge watching episodes. It also uncovered the demographic characteristics and genre consumption patterns of frequent binge viewers.

Moritz Cleve, doctoral student

Effects of Reported Hurricane Behaviors and Outcomes on Efficacy, Threat Perceptions and Future Evacuation Behavior

Dr. Amy Jo Coffey, associate professor, Telecommunication Department

Panel: “Media Ownership and Diversity,” part of pre-conference session “Teaching Diversity in Entrepreneurship.”

Panel: “Data Ethics in the Analytics Curriculum,” part of panel “Ethical Issues in Data Management.” 

Robyn Goodman, interim department chair, Advertising Department

Breasts and Bodies: A Content Analysis of Women’s Representation in Contemporary Images

Authors: Robyn Goodman and Lincoln Lu, doctoral student

Abstract: Women’s body dissatisfaction is rampant today. Up to 84% of women are dissatisfied, 82% want to lose weight, and 60% have weekly negative body appearance thoughts (e.g., Runfola et al., 2012; Mannino, 2014). Yet weight and body shape are not the only concern. Two-thirds of women age 18 to 25 are highly dissatisfied with their breast size and shape with most wanting larger breasts (Frederick, Peplau, & Lever, 2008), which may be why breast augmentation has increased 41% since 2000 making it the most common surgical procedure today (Frederick et al., 2008; American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2018). Researchers, furthermore, have cited mass media as one of the major influences on women’s body and breast dissatisfaction (e.g., Cusumano & Thompson, 1997; Owen & Laurel-Seller, 2000; Goodman & Walsh-Childers, 2004), the present study analyzes the body and breast size of female models in magazine editorial and ads, and on social media to better understand what women are being exposed to today. Based on the results of this study, it appears norms are changing; female media models have generally increased in both body size and breast size to varying degrees. Specifically, different genres of magazines have different norms in their representation of women’s bodies and breast size.

Dr. Jay Hmielowski, assistant professor, Public Relations Department

Expanding the Theory of Planned Behavior: Implications for Media Use, Race/Ethnicity, and Pro-Environmental Intentions. 

 Authors: Troy Elias, University of Oregon, Jay Hmielowski

Abstract: Using a purposive sample of 302 Hispanics, 305 African Americans, 310 non-Hispanic Whites, and 299 Asian Americans, we examine the relationship between media (e.g., liberal, conservative, and non-partisan) and pro-environmental behavioral intentions. Our study expands on the extant literature by examining media use as predictors of key variables within the Theory of Planned Behavior (e.g., attitudes, subjective norms, behavioral control). Results indicate that the relationships between our media use variables vary by race/ethnicity, supporting our proposed mediated moderated model that examined whether the conditional indirect relationships of various media outlets on behavioral intentions through key components of the Theory of Planned Behavior vary by race/ethnicity.

Laugh till I Seek: A Re-assessment of the Gateway Hypothesis

Authors: Michaele Myers, University of Minnesota, Jay Hmielowski

Awards: 4th Place Faculty Paper

Abstract: As the media becomes more fragmented, it is important to understand how one form of communication leads to use of other types of communication. In particular, scholars should expand on this line of inquiry by examining how communication behaviors predict one another within genres of communication (e.g., news), but also how these different forms of communication might work together across genres (e.g., entertainment and news). In this paper, we re-visit the gateway hypothesis, which argued that political satire programs opened the door to people using more hard news content. In this paper, we utilize over-time survey data to provide a more rigorous test of this hypothesis. Although our cross-sectional analyses show results consistent with the gateway hypotheses, our over-time data suggest that satire does not lead to increased used of news programming. However, we did find support for the gateway hypothesis when looking at a mediation model where political attitudes serve as the intervening variable between satire use and news use.

Dr. Benjamin Johnson, assistant professor, Advertising Department

You’re Teaching a Class- Now What? Curriculum Development, Textbook Adoption, and Optimizing Technology to Engage Undergraduate Students

Abstract: This panel will go over various strategies for preparing an exciting new course—as painlessly as possible. From the nitty gritty details such as wading through seemingly endless textbook options to determining one’s own broader pedagogical perspective on such things as technology in the classroom and teaching style in an online vs. traditional classroom, this discussion will have something for everyone and set a foundation for sharing of resources for outside-the-box, engaging, student-centered learning.

Dr. Tom Kelleher, associate dean, Division of Graduate Studies and Research

Panel: Reflecting on Integration – Challenges in Research and Practice

Description: In a recent PRWeek survey, nearly 60% of respondents indicated their organization has integrated its communication efforts, though 40% of those respondents stated the results had not been successful. This panel looks at these results, and the results of several other studies that address integration, and will explore various perspectives on the importance and role of integration in modern professional communications.

Sining Kong, doctoral student

Overcoming Fear of Death: Applying Terror Management Theory in an Organ Donation Campaign

Abstract: Organ transplant is the only therapeutic choice available to save people’s lives when they suffer from potentially fatal organ failure, hence it is critical to increase organ donation rates to save more people’s lives. More than 560,000 transplants have been performed in the United States since 1954, and many recipients can survive 25 years or longer. Despite the benefits of organ donation, the shortage of transplantable organs remains a pressing issue. Both cognitive (knowledge of organ donation) and non-cognitive factors (fear of death) affect people’s decision of becoming organ donors. Among them, the non-cognitive factors play an immense impact on preventing people from becoming organ donors. This dissertation aims to address the non-cognitive factors involving in organ donation through terror management theory. An online experiment was performed to examine the effect of death defense mechanism (cultural worldview value) on people’s decision of becoming organ donors.

Susanna Lee, doctoral student

Going Native on Instagram: The Effects of Product Type and Endorser Congruity on Native Advertising Effectiveness

Authors: Susanna Lee, Huan Chen, associate professor, Advertising Department, Yu-Hao Lee, assistant professor, Telecommunication Department

Abstract: In recent years, brands have been actively using self-promoted individuals, also known as “micro-celebrities” or “influencers”, on native advertising to make the ad resemble a post uploaded by one’s online friend (Marwick & Boyd, 2011). This study explored how self-expressive product and perceived product-influencer congruence affect Instagram native

advertising outcomes. Findings revealed that native ad with a high self-expressive product and product-influencer congruence positively influence attitude toward the ad, attitude toward the brand, source credibility, and eWOM intention. Furthermore, results showed that people’s persuasion knowledge moderate the effect of product-influencer congruence on the source credibility.

Dr. Ah Ram Lee, former doctoral student

How Age-Morphed Images Make Me Feel: The Role of Emotional Responses in Building Support for the Elderly Among Millennials and Generation Xers

Authors: Ah Ram Lee, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Eunice Kim, Ehwa Women’s University, Linda Hon, professor, Public Relations Department, Yoojin Chung, doctoral student

Awards: Third Place Top Faculty Paper in the Communication and Technology Division

Abstract: This study examines the role of emotional responses to experiencing age-morphed images in promoting individuals’ individuals’ attitudes toward the elderly and behavioral intentions to support elderly-related issues. This research investigates whether temporal status (i.e., current vs. future) manipulated by age-morphing technology and subject of images (i.e., self vs. other) elicits different emotional responses—personal distress and empathic concern. Drawing on the perspective-taking framework, these emotional responses were tested as an underlying mechanism to explain the seemingly ambivalent effects of age-morphing technology. A laboratory and an online experiment were conducted on different samples: Study I on university students (n = 136) and Study II on a sample of extended population (n = 263)—a general population of millennials and Generation X. The findings for Study I showed that university students showed more personal distress when they saw an age-morphed image, which led to unfavorable attitude toward the elderly. The results of Study II revealed that Millennials and Generation X showed more personal distress and empathic concern. Particularly, when they saw age-morphed image of other person they showed more empathic concern than seeing their old future image, and this empathic concern served as a moderated mediator leading to favorable attitude toward the elderly, behavioral and financial support for the elderly-related issues.

Lincoln Lu, doctoral student

Corporate Vanguards: The Contemporary Role of Organization Altruism

 Abstract: The dramatic influx of brands embracing diplomatic action as part of their strategic marketing and public relations tactics is muddying the definitions of corporate social responsibility, corporate social activism and brand activism. This study utilizes the recent nomadic efforts by Central Americans to reach the United States/Mexico border in search of refugee asylum as the context to examine participants’ reactions to corporate philanthropic actions. A 2×3 experimental design was utilized to frame different levels of corporate social positioning. Using an online sample, it was found that an organization adopting an explicit position did not increase brand-public relationship, but altruism for the two organizations that occupy different perceived political identities was increased for all participants.

Diane McFarlin, dean

Ann Christiano, director, Center for Public Interest Communications

Matt Sheehan, Journalism Lecturer

Telling Our Own Stories

 Abstract: This hands-on session will help participants apply social, behavioral and cognitive science to tell authentic and inclusive stories that help others understand the value and power of their college. We will share peer-reviewed research from a range of academic disciplines that shows what makes one story more inspiring, compelling or memorable than another.

Hayley Markovich, doctoral student

Severe Allergies and Price Increases: Framing The 2016 EpiPen Crisis and U.S. Pharmaceutical Pricing

Award: Second Place Best Student Paper in the Electronic News Division

Abstract: Efforts to control the cost of pharmaceutical prescriptions has been an important topic to patients, politicians, insurance companies and the healthcare industry ever since the Clinton Administration made the topic a key initiative in the 1990s. This topic has been brought to the forefront beginning again in 2016, when Mylan Pharmaceuticals and their brand name epinephrine auto-injector, made news headlines due to a 600% price increase since Mylan’s 2007 acquisition of the product. This exploratory study of the fallout of the EpiPen price increase utilized a framing analysis of three U.S. television evening news programs’ coverage of the medication’s price increase as well as related stories from August 2016 until November 2018. Within 37 news segments which discussed EpiPen or medication price increases, analysis revealed four common frames: economic, attribution of responsibility, morality and human interest, and conflict and powerlessness. The most common frames for this news event were economic, and attribution of responsibility. Human interest and morality were additional frames often brought up by the people interviewed. By using the economic frame to report on EpiPen and related medication price increases, the news media focus became how the families and children who rely on these medicines were affected. Due to the effect on families, pharmaceutical price increases were depicted overall as a societal level problem where government was expected to provide solutions to the issue. This study provided a larger understanding of how the crisis of medication price increases was covered in the media.

Cen “April” Yue, doctoral student

How CEO Disclosure and Gender Affect Perceived CEO Attributes, Relationship Investment, and Engagement Intention

Authors: April Yue, Yoo Jin Chung and Amanda Bradshaw, doctoral students, Tom Kelleher, associate dean, Division of Graduate Studies and Research, Mary Ann Ferguson, professor, Public Relations Department

Award:  First Place Top Open Paper in the Public Relations Division

Abstract: How does a CEO’s social media content disclosure on Twitter affect CEO attributes, relationship investment, and public engagement, and to what extent does the CEO’s gender (male vs. female) moderate how publics evaluate content disclosures? A 2 (CEO gender: male vs. female) X 4 (level of disclosure: 100% corporate vs. 70% corporate and 30% personal vs. 30% corporate and 70% personal vs. 100% personal disclosure) between-subject experimental design was used to address these questions. A random sample of 465 adult participants in the United States was selected. Results showed that posts that featured high personal disclosure did not increase the perceived likability or competence of the CEO. Neither did CEO gender impact these outcomes. However, CEO professional disclosure proved to be an effective means to gain high levels of perceived relationship investment from publics. Finally, publics may hold implicit gender bias when revealing cognitive (i.e., perceived relationship investment) and behavioral evaluation (i.e., engagement intention) toward a female CEO.

Examining the Effects of Internal Communications and Emotional Culture on Employees’ Organizational Identification

Authors: April Yue, Rita Men, associate professor, Public Relations Department, Mary Ann Ferguson, professor, Public Relations Department

Abstract: As one of the first empirical studies investigating the emerging role of positive emotional culture within organizations, we aim to understand how a symmetrical internal communication system and leaders’ use of motivating language contribute to fostering a positive emotional culture featured by joy, companionate love, pride, and gratitude. Furthermore, we examined the linkage between a positive emotional culture and employees’ organizational identification. Through a quantitative survey with 482 full-time employees in the U.S., we found that both symmetrical internal communication and leaders’ use of motivating language induced the perception of a positive emotional culture, which in turn enhanced employees’ organizational identification. Theoretically, the study showcased the value of strategic internal communications at both the leader’s and organizational levels in fostering positive organizational outcomes and added to the body of knowledge on why emotional culture matters. From a pragmatic point of view, the study findings offered strategic insights into how organizations and leaders should communicate to create a benign cultural environment filled with positive emotions and boost employees’ sense of belonging in the organization.

Leping You, doctoral student

Linkages among Individual Values, Attitudes, and Political Actions:  A Cross-Cultural Study

Abstract: Communicating values to promote social justice is critical, particularly in motivating people worldwide to participate in global social/political events. While many studies have examined how cultures influence individuals’ attitudes toward social issues and their intentions of participating in civic actions, research exploring civic engagement in comparison with individualistic and collectivistic cultures on the individual level is relatively scarce. Drawing on Schwartz’s theory of values, this study aims to fill this gap in the literature by analyzing the relationships among individual values, attitudes toward human rights such as equal pay, and political action behavior across eastern and western cultures.