Conference schedule; 2019-2020 Annual Report

Religion and Media Interest Group
Annual Report, 2019-2020

Standing Committee of the Religion and Media Interest Group

Head: Gregory P. Perreault
Appalachian State University

Vice head: Bellarmine Ezumah
Murray State University

Teaching co-chairs:
Rick Moore
Boise State University

Rebecca Frazer
Ohio State University

Research chair: Taisik Hwang
University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee

Professional freedom & responsibility chair: Paul Glader
The King’s College in New York City

Newsletter co-editors:
Michelle Baker
Pennsylvania State University

Joe Grimm
Micihgan State University

Membership chair: Derek Moscato
Western Washington University

Please provide an overall statement weighting the division or interest group’s activities for this year in the Research, Teaching and PF&R areas. The new assessment process recognizes that the relative weighting of these three activities will be different from year to year, but over the five-year reporting period, the three areas should receive generally balanced attention.

This year we focused on honoring the founders of RMIG. This was accomplished through planned newsletter pieces (to be released in July) discussing contributions by founders Judith Buddenbaum and Daniel Stout to the field of journalism and mass communication. Furthermore, at the annual conference they will be presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards and have speeches honoring their contributions. New voices were brought into the conversation. We believe this not only is important for the good of the interest group but allows the group to look to the future.

We also enhanced the number of research paper submissions this year, which was a goal we posed last year.

Covid-19 complicated other goals this year, and forced us to shift our focus to respond to it to encourage attendance of our members, many of whom are students, at universities with frozen conference spending. This was done through a call for funding assistance through the division Four students and faculty received registration assistance this way and through expanding our student research competition to include a first-, and second-place student paper.

In terms of administrative matters, we have three new members serving as officers for the first time. We have succeeded in working as a team more than in previous years. The newsletter has improved with two editors.

Please write a bullet-point statement (500-word maximum), to be co-authored by the outgoing and incoming Heads, addressing:

* What are your most important goals for the upcoming year?

At RMIG, we would like to create a plan for increasing scholarly opportunities for RMIG members (there are currently two journals in Religion and Media, but neither are formally associated with our interest group). Furthermore, as our interest group has grown (it is one of the largest interest groups at AEJMC, dwarfing several divisions), it seems reasonable to revisit our interest group bylaws.

* What goals did your group set this year that you were unable to reach? Why?

We were unsuccessful in creating more scholarly opportunities for RMIG. We confirmed that the Journal of Media & Religion receives no monetary support from RMIG and is not a formal “journal of” the Religion and Media Interest Group. With former head Mariam Alkazemi, we reached out to the journal and proposed a special issue based on a panel from the prior year’s AEJMC in order to try to reach out to the journal. But it was unsuccessful.

* How may any or all of the Standing Committees help you to achieve your goals in the coming year?

In the coming year, the Standing Committee could help us figure out how to proceed with developing a new journal. The Journal of Media and Religion is associated with the AEJMC Religion and Media Interest Group according to its website (please see but not monetarily or formally. This does provide RMIG opportunity to develop a new journal.

RMIG had a total of 15 papers submitted.
Our overall acceptance rate was 46.7% (seven accepted papers).
Number of faculty research paper submissions: six; acceptances three (50% acceptance rate)
Combined Faculty-Student paper submissions: four; acceptances two (50% acceptance rate)
Number of student research paper submissions: five; acceptances two (40% acceptance rate)

We followed the All-Academic review system as suggested by the Council of Divisions.
Total number of reviewers: 15; Most judges read three papers each.
Total number of reviews per paper: Minimum of three.
This meets our goal from last year of enhancing our research paper submission.

Please list your conference activities related to research.
Friday, 5 to 6:30 p.m. / F000
Religion and Media Interest Group

Refereed paper session

Religion in News and Social Media
Daniel A. Stout, Brigham Young-Hawaii
News Media Perceptions and Evaluations Among Jews in Germany*
Philip Baugut, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität
“They Are Amongst Us.” News About Terror: Perceptions of Sleeper Terrorists, and Negative Stereotypes Toward Muslims**
Joerg Matthes and Ruta Kaskeleviciute, University of Vienna
News, Pews and Polls: How Religiosity Moderates News and Voting During a Mid-term Election
Timothy Macafee and Sarah Holtan, Concordia University Wisconsin Political Consumerism, Religious Factors and Social Media
Jan Wicks, Shauna Morimoto and Robert Wicks, Arkansas
* Top Faculty Paper
** Second-place Faculty Paper

Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. / S000
Religion and Media Interest Group

Refereed paper session

Religious Stereotype and Conspiracy Theory
Christina Littlefield, Pepperdine
North American Muslim Satire on YouTube: Combatting or Reinforcing Stereotypes?*
Omar Hammad, Rutgers
Negotiating Normality: Using Digital Media to Combat the Stigma and Perceptions of Islam in the West**
Ahmet Aksoy and Nihar Sreepada, Texas Tech
Flat-Smacked! Converting to Flat Eartherism
Alex Olshansky, Robert Peaslee and Asheley Landrum, Texas Tech
* Top Student Paper
** Second Place Student Paper


At the 2020 annual conference, we will be presenting the following teaching sessions:

Thursday, 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. / T000
Religion and Media Interest Group and Electronic News Division

Teaching Panel

When Communicators Actually Communicate: Models of Reciprocity in News Coverage of Social Conflict
Bellarmine Ezumah, Murray State
Rick Clifton Moore, Boise State
Michael Longinow, Biola
Lindsey Maxwell, Southern Mississippi
Kenneth Fischer, Oklahoma
Defined simply, reciprocity is the positive exchange of information that leads to better understanding (even if it does not lead to agreement). Scholars have long suggested that reciprocity is a desirable goal in news coverage of social conflict, whether the conflict relates to environmental resources, politics, religion, sexual morality, or any other recurring facet of social experience. Ideally, after an issue is presented in the news, audiences have an accurate understanding of the real positions of various parties in the conflict. In this panel, scholars present, analyze, and critique contemporary news accounts to provide positive models of this important journalistic feature.

Thursday, 3:15 to 4:45 p.m.
Small Programs and Religion and Media Interest Group

Teaching Panel

NGOs and Global Nonprofits: Preparing Students for the Changing Technology Landscape
Carolyn Kim, Biola
Michael Longinow, Biola
KiYong Kim, Biola
Michael Ray Smith, Regent
Bellarmine Ezumah, Murray State
Carrie Buchanan, John Carroll
This panel examines ways people of faith send and receive messages, how miscommunication can divert meaning, and how to prepare students to navigate the media environment. Practical applications for classes and course conversations will be shared.

13. The majority of RMIG’s teaching resources are housed and maintained at our website:

14. The goals of teaching in Religion and Media Interest Group are difficult to elaborate, in part because our members hail from multiple perspectives: (1) journalism and mass communication scholars interested in the variables associated with religion, religiosity, and spirituality, (2) religious individuals who work in journalism and mass communication education, and (3) journalism and mass communication scholars who work at religiously affiliated institutions. There is not an exhaustive list, nor does it take into account the fact that there are individuals who would check multiple of the boxes above. However, this does illustrate the difficulty our division would have in articulating teaching goals—they would necessarily be different depending on the perspectives of our members. In the future, it may be worthwhile for members to consider teaching goals to coincide with our clearly articulated research goals every year.

At the 2020 annual conference, we will be presenting the following PF&R sessions:
Friday, 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. / F000
Religion and Media and Internships and Careers Interest Groups

PF&R panel

Student Media Censorship vs. Freedom on a Religious Campus: Liberty University
and the Problem of Student Initiative in Matters of Faith in the Public Sphere
Michael Longinow, Biola
The Law, Private Colleges and Censorship of Campus Press
Sommer Ingram Dean, lawyer from Student Press Law Center
Sensitive Topics in Theory and Practice on Christian College Campuses
Doug Mendenhall, Abilene Christian
Censorship Survey on Christian College Campuses
Cassidy Grom, Taylor; data reporter at
Sensitive Topics in Theory and Practice on Christian College Campuses Part II
Alan Blanchard, Taylor
Liberty University as Exhibit A of Censorship of Campus Press at Christian Colleges
Paul Glader, King’s College
Student Media Censorship vs. Freedom on a Religious Campus: Liberty University and the Problem of Student Initiative in Matters of Faith in the Public Sphere. How do professors at Christian colleges navigate pressure to censor student media?

Saturday, 3 to 4:30 p.m.
Public Relations Division and Religion and Media Interest Group
PF&R panel

Public Relations and Religion: Nonprofit Religious Advocacy and Media Relations
Miriam Alkazemi, Virginia Commonwealth
Rebecca Frazer, Ohio State
Jordan Morehouse, North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Cylor Spaulding, California State, Fullerton
Bellarmine Ezumah, Murray State
Mimi Perreault, East Tennessee State
In addition to examining established religious faiths and organizations, this panel will explore public relations and media relations approaches taken by organizations considered to be part of the New Religious Movement (e.g. Church of Scientology).
16. A common function of the PF&R chair of RMIG is to produce newsletter items, and that has been the case for Paul Glader this year.
17. This past year, we aimed at lowering the threshold for graduate student entry by decreasing the fee for graduate student membership, increasing the number of research awards for graduate students and significant outreach to graduate students to help them attend the 2020 conference in the amidst of the coronavirus pandemic.
18. Our newsletters (three this year) are housed at our website.

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