2011 Summer Newsletter

Varied opportunities abound at AEJMC summer convention

By Anthony Hatcher, Elon
RMIG Chair

Here’s hoping you have your plans set for AEJMC in St. Louis. Here are a few random notes concerning the upcoming conference. Two highlights inside the hotel:

  • Linda Steiner of Maryland will be installed as 2011-12 AEJMC president. Kyu Ho Youm of Oregon will become president-elect.
  • This year’s keynote speech will be delivered by the Chief Innovation Officer of Chicago-based Publicis Groupe Media. Rishad Tobaccowala started the interactive marketing agency within Publicis in 1993, making him a pioneer of Internet advertising.

Keep reading past the jump for more on this summer’s AEJMC convention and even more from this summer’s newsletter.

And now for some highlights outside the hotel and the conference RMIG members might want to catch:

  • The Cardinals are in town and AEJMC has a special block of discount tickets — $20 per ticket to see them play the Rockies at 7 p.m. (Hey, for some this might be a shrine.)
  • The Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, colloquially the Old Cathedral, was consecrated in 1834. It was the first cathedral west of the Mississippi, and is located on the riverfront near the Gateway Arch.
  • Christ Church Cathedral, constructed between 1859 and 1867, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as a National Historic Landmark.
  • Trinity Lutheran Church houses the oldest Lutheran congregation west of the Mississippi River. The Pulpit and Baptismal Font date to 1864.
  • Old St. Ferdinand’s Shrine is one of the few remaining vestiges of St. Louis’ Spanish past. The church, built in 1821, is the oldest standing church in all of the Louisiana Purchase Territory.
  • St. Louis is the home of the first synagogues west of the Mississippi, with the founding of United Hebrew Congregation in 1837 and B’nai El in 1855.

Finally, in case you missed this in the latest DIG Newsletter, here is an excerpt from RMIG’s column:

Atheism is Worthy of Coverage by Religion Journalists

RMIG was a participant in the 3rd annual Religion and Media Conference at Elon University in Spring 2011. This year’s subject was atheism. Atheism as the subject of a Religion and Media conference? Since atheism is, by definition, anti-theistic, why, some asked, are we addressing it? And what does the subject have to do with media and communications?

Panelist and RMIG Vice-Head Cecile Holmes, former religion editor of the Houston Chronicle, put it this way: “When I was a fulltime member of the working press, American atheists kept making headlines and were regularly involved in a cross section of concerns.” In 1988, for example, the Austin-based American Atheist office did a survey of Texas area childcare centers asking questions such as:

  • If a parent requested his or her child not be included in any religious activity at the childcare center, would that be possible?
  • Are children attending this childcare center asked to pray?

According to the Pew Research Center, 16.1% of Americans are unaffiliated with any religion. Only 1.6% of those polled claim to be atheists, and 2.4% claim agnosticism. In the non-news media arena, Steve Martin’s tune “Atheists Don’t Have No Songs” is a viral video hit:

Some folks sing
a Bach cantata,
Lutherans get
Christmas trees,
Atheist songs add up
to nada,
But they do
have Sundays free.

Atheists are often stereotyped by a series of shallow portrayals, Holmes says. “And I have tried to counteract such portrayals in my classroom teaching and in my research.”

See you at the conference!


Diversity Highlights Research Paper Competition

By Rev. Kyle Huckins, Indiana Wesleyan University
Research Co-chair

This year’s research competition was wide-ranging, to say the least: 36 papers, 18 judges and a cloud of dust. Thirteen papers emerged for acceptance, but there was much promise even in a number of the rejections. Religion and media is definitely a fertile field for study!

I heartily encourage you to come to the RMIG research session Thursday at 5 p.m. and our poster session at 12:15 p.m. Friday. The diversity, scope and quality of the papers will impress you. Please allow me to go into same for a bit.

The research session – not necessarily reserved for only the top-scoring papers, but composed of solid pieces all around – is about “Religious Media Identity.” It features looks into interactivity in church websites, something as contemporary as it gets. Then, the top faculty paper details the LDS Church’s search-optimization strategy. Examining our students’ generation and its relationship with religious institutions promises much, too. We see how religion often is integrated into coverage labeled otherwise. Finally, reporting on astrology rounds out the session. I’m sure Michael Smith will do a great job moderating, and I’ll be stirring up insights as discussant.

Highlighting the poster session is research on coverage of Islam, with the top student paper – a fascinating triangulation study – and the second-place faculty paper – an agenda-setting piece – leading us into discussion. Examinations of media and Sharia law, terrorism and 9/11 give additional breadth and depth to this area. Not to be forgotten are the other outstanding inquiries, including the second-place student paper, which tackles homosexuality in Uganda. There also is a piece on LDS college-student media attitudes and a rather poetically inclined look at Mormon murder ballads. Anthony Hatcher, this year’s RMIG head, will be the discussant.

I’m glad that RMIG continues to show that its members not only can research media coverage of Judeo-Christian life but that of other religious movements as well. Being open to different religions, races, and other forms of diversity is a primary value of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and RMIG itself. It’s one reason our interest group has been around 15 years and goes on to more in the future.

My hat is off to Research Co-chair Jim Trammel, our judges, and interest-group officials, all of whom worked with me in the research competition. I’m grateful as well to those who submitted papers. Thanks to all of you for spreading the word about the competition and for providing the prize money for our top finishers. See you in St Louis!

5-6:30 p.m., Thursday, 8/11/11

Religion and Media Interest Group

Refereed Paper Research Session: Religious Media Identity

Moderating/Presiding: Michael Smith, Campbell

Seeking to Understand Interactivity in Church Websites

Matthew Broaddus, Tennessee

Marketing Religion Online: The LDS Church’s SEO Efforts*

Chiung Hwang Chen, Brigham Young, Hawaii

A Bigger Footprint: Religion Coverage by Another Name

Jesse Holcomb, Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism

As Predicted: Fact and Improbability in News Coverage of Astrology

Rick Moore, Boise State

The Impact of Responsiveness and Conflict on Millennials’ Relationship
with Religious Institutions

Richard D. Waters, San Francisco and Denise Bortree, Pennsylvania State

Discussant: Kyle Huckins, Indiana Wesleyan

* Top Faculty Paper, Religion and Media Interest Group

12:15-1:30 p.m., Friday, 8/12/11

Religion and Media Interest Group
The Second Level Agenda Setting Effect of News Coverage of Islam in American Newspapers*

Brian J. Bowe, Michigan State; Shahira Fahmy, Arizona
and Wayne Wanta, Florida

Secular and Religious Press Framing of the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill***

Dave Ferman, Oklahoma

Perceptions of Media Trust and Credibility amongst Mormon College Students

Guy J. Golan, Syracuse and Sherry Baker, Brigham Young

State and National Media Coverage of Oklahoma’s Proposed Constitutional Amendment Outlawing the Consideration of Sharia Law in Court Decisions

Joel Kendall, Southwestern Oklahoma State

Religion, Affect and Cognition in Listener Contributions to NPR’s Talk
of the Nation: Before, During and After 9/11

Anna Turner and William Kinnally, Central Florida

Cultivating, or Alleviating, Fear? How Religion and Media Influence Feelings
About Terrorism

Rosemary PenningtonAmmina KothariStacie Meihaus Jankowski
and Jae Kook Lee, Indiana

Coverage of Islam in the Egyptian Press**

Gregory Perreault, Washington Journalism Center

Assuaging Death and Assigning Blame: A Lyric Analysis of Mormon Murder Ballads

Clark Callahan and Quint Randle, Brigham Young

Discussant: Anthony Hatcher, Elon

* Second-Place Faculty Paper, Religion and Media Interest Group
** Top Student Paper, Religion and Media Interest Group
*** Second-Place Student Paper, Religion and Media Interest Group


RMIG member receives honor

A former journalist-turned-journalism teacher at Campbell University is the 2011 John McCandlish Phillips Chair of Journalism for the World Journalism Institute at The King’s College in New York City.

Micheal Ray Smith

The Manhattan-based World Journalism Institute selected veteran journalist Michael Ray Smith, a RMIG member, to be the 2011 John McCandlish Phillips Chair of Journalism, which honors the prolific New York Times writer and author known for his commitment to truth and lyrical prose. The Phillips Chair is an honorific title. RMIG member Michael Longinow of Biola was the first recipient of this honor in 2010.

Smith also published A Free Press in Freehand: The Spirit of American Blogging in the Handwritten Newspapers of John McLean Harrington 1858-1869 in April. The book explores the work of John McLean Harrington who handwrote 302 newspapers between 1858 and 1869. Harrington’s work during the Civil War includes local news of marriages and crop yields and praise for Southern victories. After the war, Harrington said he pretended to support the Confederates but he was really a Union supporter. Nonetheless, Harrington’s handwritten output is the greatest one in the nation.

The web site for the book is: handwrittennewspapers.com

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