AEJMC 2016 Research Panels

The annual conference for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication will take place in Minneapolis, Minnesota between August 4-7, 2016.  The Religion and Media Interest Group is hosting two research panels.  The first research panel is entitled, “Christians and culture: Making and interpreting the news”.  The second is entitled, “Framing faith, morals and coping in the media”.  More details on each of the sessions is provided below.

Christians and culture: Making and interpreting the news

Moderator and Discussant: Michael Longinow, Biola

Date and time: 8:15-9:30 AM Thursday, Aug. 4

Paper 1: Believing news from the Christian Broadcast Network: The intersection between source trust, content expectancy, and religiosity, by: Robin Blom, Ball State University (Presenter)

Abstract: A randomly-selected sample of 200 U.S. adults indicated their believability of a news headline attributed to the Christian Broadcast Network to test whether an interaction between news source trust and content expectancy could predict believability levels. Overall, the data indicate that certain non-religious people or those with low levels of religiosity considered the Christian Broadcast Network headline highly believable, whereas some people with high levels of religiosity did not—depending on whether they were surprised on unsurprised that the headline was attributed to CBN—and not just because of their religiosity level. In fact, religiosity was not a statistically significant predictor of believability in a regression model with news source trust, news content expectancy, and its interaction. This provides new insights to whether non-secular media outlets could be considered valuable news sources for people outside the traditional, religious target audience for those organizations.

Paper 2: Defining the Christian Journalist: Ideologies, Values and Practices, by: Brad Schultz, University of Mississippi (Presenter) & Mary Sheffer, University of Southern Mississippi

Abstract: This study sought to understand how working Christian journalists perceive themselves in terms of how their faith shapes their professional practice. An international survey of self-identified Christian journalists showed that they perceive themselves differently from their secular counterparts primarily in terms of ideology (ethics and public service). Younger Christian journalists were the drivers of these perceptions more so than older journalists, who remain more tied to traditional journalistic practice. Interestingly, those who worked at non-religious media outlets were more connected to ideology, while those at Christian outlets were more committed to journalism practice. The implications of these findings were discussed.

Paper 3: Moral Mondays in the South: Christian Activism and Civil Disobedience in the Digital Age, by: Anthony Hatcher, Elon University (Presenter)

Abstract: This paper is a case study of the 2013 Moral Monday movement in North Carolina and the use of progressive Christianity and religious rhetoric as tactics for protest in the modern media era. Themes explored include: 1) the role religious rhetoric played in this 21st century protest movement; 2) the tone of media coverage; 3) how social media was used by both protestors and their critics; and 4) the political effectiveness of the protests.

Paper 4: “I Pray We Won’t Let This Moment Pass Us By”: Christian Concert Films and Numinous Experiences, by: Jim Trammell, High Point University(Presenter)

Abstract: This manuscript analyzes the Christian concert film Hillsong United: Live in Miami to investigate how mass media evoke numinous experiences. Using a framework that locates technological determinism within theories of religious encounters, the analysis explores how Christian concert films create numinous experiences through shot composition, editing, and content selection. The manuscript argues that mass media technologies and aesthetics can create expectations of religious encounters, and challenges the use of mass media to manufacture religious experiences.


Framing faith, morals and coping in media

Moderator and Discussant: To Be Announced

Date and time: 3:15-3:45 PM Friday, Aug. 5

Paper 1: Just a Phone Call (or Facebook Post) Away: Parents’ Influence at a Distance on Emerging Adults’ Religious Connections, by: Andrew Pritchard, Iowa State & Sisi Hu, Iowa State

Abstract: New communication media have to a great degree erased the barriers of distance that once diminished parents’ ability to keep their emerging adult children (ages 18 to 25) connected to the family’s religion. A survey of emerging adults (N = 727) finds that parents’ influence is greatest when they communicate through media in which emerging adults are willing to discuss intimate subjects, and when religiosity and spirituality are frequent topics of conversation.

Paper 2: Media Framing of Muslims: A Research Review, by: Saifuddin Ahmed, University of California, Davis  & Jörg Matthes, University of Vienna

Abstract: This study provides an overview of English language academic research on media framing of Muslims from 2001 to 2014. Through content analysis of 128 studies we identify patterns involving research trend, methodological approach, media analysis, and authorship. A qualitative review results in presentation of seven common frames. Attention is paid to frame commonality across media sources and regions. Current research gaps are highlighted and findings point to key directions for future scholars.

Paper 3: Morality and Minarets: The moral framing of mosque construction in the U.S., by: Brian J. Bowe, Western Washington University

Abstract: Journalism is a moral craft with particular social obligations. Moral evaluations are one of the main functions of media frames. Yet morality is a complex concept that includes both individualizing and binding elements. This study applies Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) to examine the moral dimension of frames. Analyzing news articles (n=349) from five newspapers about controversies surrounding the construction of mosques in the United States, this study found four moral frames: Ethnocentric Loyalty, Social Order, Altruistic Democracy and Moderate Individualism. These frames were strongly rooted in socially binding moral foundations, and they were connected to enduring values of journalism.

Paper 4: Religion, coping and healing in news about school shootings, by: Michael McCluskey, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga & Hayden Seay, University of Tennessee-Chattanoog

Abstract: Religion offers comfort to those undergoing trauma, including communities affected by a school shooting. News content offers one means to heal. Analysis of news content about school shootings showed the presence of five key functions of individual religious coping methods identified in prior research. Most common were comfort/spirituality, meaning and control, followed by intimacy/spirituality and life transformation. Presence of healing and coping themes in the news reflect a journalistic role to heal the community.

Paper 5: Thoughtful, but angry: Media narratives of NFL star Arian Foster’s “confession” of nonbelief, by: John Haman, University of Iowa & Kyle Miller, University of Iowa

Abstract: In 2015, Arian Foster became the first active professional football player to announce he was an atheist. To analyze the media’s framing of Foster’s nonbelief within the context of the overtly evangelical Protestant religious culture of the NFL, we analyzed all news and editorial coverage of Foster’s “confession.” By extending Silk’s methodology for examining religious topoi, we examine how journalists use familiar themes to negotiate the boundary between belief and nonbelief in American culture.



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