Graduate Student Directory

Jessica Sparks



Jessica Sparks is a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida. Prior to starting her Ph.D., she was a tenure-track assistant professor at Savannah State University in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications. In that role, she served as the track coordinator for the journalism concentration in the department, as well as director of the 69th annual Southern Regional Press Institute. At Savannah State, she advised the award-winning student publication Tiger's Roar and the honors group for the department, the Savannah State chapter of the Society for Collegiate Journalists.

Sparks is a former news reporter with a specialization in political news. She has done work with The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Indiana, in Michigan,, Bluffton Today in South Carolina, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

Sparks earned her Bachelor of Science degree in journalism at Ball State University in 2007 and Master of Arts degree in digital storytelling through the Department of Telecommunications at Ball State in 2010.

Awards and Honors

Top Paper, First Place, AEJMC Newspaper and Online News Division, 2022.

Chair's Award for Service, Savannah State University Department of Journalism and Mass Communications, 2019.

Back to the Newsroom, International Center for Journalists, 2014.

Research Award, Broadcast Education Association, 2010.


Ball State University, BS in journalism & MA in digital storytelling



Book Chapters

Smith, M., & Sparks, J. (2022). The Place Matters: A Case Study of How Short-Term Study Abroad Adds Measurable Change for Assessments in Pre-Existing Courses. In The Half Yet Told: Study Abroad and HBCUs. The Forum on Education Abroad. Retrieved from

Trammel, J., Smith, M., Omunga, P., & Sparks, J. (2021). Understanding by Design (UbD) Framework to Explore Teaching and Learning Practices at an HBCU: An Interdisciplinary Approach. In Campus Conversations: Student Success Pedagogies in Practice. , USA: Rowman & Littlefield. Retrieved from


Sparks, J. (2022). Graduate Student Research Panel. Paper/Poster at AEJMC 105th Annual Conference Pre-Conference, Detroit, MI.

Sparks, J., & Waddell, T. F. (2022). Is Readability a Heuristic? Assessing Readability Effects on Credibility Judgments in News. Paper/Poster at AEJMC 105th Annual Conference, Detroit, MI.

Sparks, J. (2022). News Audience Trust in Open Records: How Political Trust Moderates News Audience Perceptions of Credibility in Open Records used in Political Journalism. Paper/Poster at AEJMC 105th Annual Conference, Detroit, MI.

Sparks, J. (2022). Man and Machine: Do Facebook Users Believe False Information Warnings More When They’re Attributed to Algorithms than Fact-Checkers?. Paper/Poster at 72nd Annual International Communication Association Conference, Paris, France.

Sparks, J., & Hmielowski, J. (2022). At the Extremes: Assessing Readability, Grade Level, Sentiment, and Tone in US Media Outlets. Paper/Poster at 72nd Annual International Communication Association Conference, Paris, France.

Sparks, J., LoMonte, F., & Rubin, A. (2022). How COVID-19 has affected college newspapers: A mixed-methods study. Paper/Poster at AEJMC Midwinter Conference, Norman, OK.

LoMonte, F., Sparks, J., & Rubin, A. (2021). Surveying the College Media Financial Landscape. Oral Presentation at Fall National College Media Convention.

Sparks, J. (2021). Print & The Pandemic: The Role of Print in the Increasing Virtual Age. Oral Presentation at Southern Regional Press Institute, Savannah, GA.

Sparks, J. (2020). Using the Understanding by Design (UbD) framework to explore teaching and learning practices at an HBCU: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Lecture at Scholarship for Teaching and Learning Commons, Savannah, GA.

Sparks, J. (2019). Twitter for Action: An Analysis of Twitter Use for Protest at a Southeast HBCU. Oral Presentation at Georgia Communication Association 2019, Morrow, GA.

Sparks, J. (2019). The Place Matters: How to encourage cultural interactions through study abroad. Oral Presentation at Georgia Association of International Educators, Savannah, GA.

Sparks, J. (2017). Using Storytelling to Share Research in a Time of Mistrust. Other at Triangle Scholarly Communications Institute, Chapel Hill, NC.

Sparks, J. (2015). Troll-Slaying: An analysis of the way two women handled comments and threats from people online. Oral Presentation at Fourth Biennial Woman and Gender Studies Symposium, Augusta, GA.

Sparks, J. (2010). The Mommy Factor: A new survey of mothers in television newsrooms. Oral Presentation at Broadcast Education Association, Las Vegas, NV.

Creative Works

Sparks, J. (2020). The Alhurs 10 years later. Film. Butler University. Indianapolis, IN.



news, journalism, reporting, gender issues in journalism, multimedia, open records

Professional Interests

Open information and public records; reporting techniques; media trust; political trust and news; college media; gender issues in journalism; partisan media


AEJMC Law and Policy Division, Measuring Trust in Public Records: How does trust in government affect attitudes toward use of public records in news reporting?, Sparks, J. (PI), 2022, $500.