New Research Authored by UM Faculty, Graduate Students

Faculty members and graduate students from the Department of Communication have authored recent research publications.

Assistant professor Erich Sommerfeldt is the author of a study that appears in Public Relations Review's March 2013 issue. Entitled "Networks of Social Capital: Extending a Public Relations Model of Civil Society in Peru," Sommerfeldt's essay  contributes to a normative public relations model of civil society by examining how interorganizational relationships, which may initially be established for purposes of resource exchange, benefit civil society through the creation and maintenance of social capital. The study examined a segment of Peruvian civil society dedicated to media development, as media is a key partner in building civil society. The results of the study help to explain how interorganizational relationships contribute to the creation of social capital in a civil society network, and how certain network positions are integral to maintaining the social capital of a community of actors. Implications for the role of public relations in building and maintaining networks of interorganizational communities are discussed.

Associate professor Xiaoli Nan, along with Ph.D. student Rowena Briones, and Ph.D. alumna Hongmei ShenHua Jiang, and Ai Zhang, has authored a study entitled "A Current Appraisal of Health- and Nutrition-Related Claims in Magazine Food Advertisements." The study appears in the Journal of Health CommunicationThis article reports a content analysis of health- and nutrition-related claims used in food advertisements in popular women's and men's magazines. The authors analyzed 734 food ads and 100 magazine issues. Their research shows that nutrient content claims (i.e., ones that focus on a specific nutrient component such as “low in fat”) are the most predominantly used, followed by general nutrition claims, structure/function claims, and healthy claims. The least used category is health claims, in which the advertised food is linked to reduced risk of a disease or health problem. The use of health- and nutrition-related claims differs across different food groups and types of magazines.

Ph.D. student Leysan Khakimova is the author of a recent study that appeared in the International Journal of Strategic Communication. Entitled "Public Diplomacy at Arab Embassies: Fighting an Uphill Battle," Khakimova's essay explores public diplomacy and image repair strategies at the Arab embassies in the United States. The analysis of data, consisting of 16 interviews and 84 hard copy and electronic documents, revealed that Arab embassies focus predominantly on media relations and reflect an old public diplomacy structure. Relationship management in public diplomacy may be complicated by political, cultural, and logistical constraints. In addition, the study suggests that religious diplomacy may offer new opportunities for government communication. Analysis of image repair strategies revealed that Arab embassies used three out of five strategies. Mortification and evading responsibility strategies were not used by the embassies.

Associate professor Brooke Fisher Liu is the co-author, with Yan Jin from Virginia Commonwealth and Ph.D. alumna Lucinda Austin, of a study that recently appeared in the Journal of Public Relations Research. Entitled "The Tendency to Tell: Understanding Publics' Communicative Responses to Crisis Information Form and Source," Liu et al.'s study applies the social-mediated crisis communication (SMCC) model to understand why and how publics communicate about crises. Specifically, the study focuses on how the source and form of the initial crisis information publics are exposed to affect their crisis communication. The findings confirm the validity of the SMCC model's core components related to publics' crisis communicative tendencies under the influence of traditional media, social media, and offline word-of-mouth communication. The results also indicate that traditional media, compared to other media forms, seems to exert a stronger influence on how publics communicate about crises.

Professor Shawn J. Parry-Giles is the co-author, with David Kaufer of Carnegie-Mellon University and Beata Beigman Klebanov of ETS, of a recent study that appeared in the Journal of Language & Politics. Entitled "The 'Image Bite,' Political Language, and the Public/Private Divide: NBC News Coverage of Hillary Clinton from Scorned Wife to Senate Candidate," this study explores how  voice-overs with muted images, often known as the 'image bite,' have become an increasingly used but understudied format of political language by the television news media. Because the media can use images to fit many contexts and purposes of commentary, the media images are susceptible to continuous de-contextualization and re-contextualization. Drawing from theories of feminist critical discourse analysis and gender performance as well as scholarship on the public/private divide, we examine the commentary of one U.S. television news organization's (NBC) re-contextualization of the same stock footage of Hillary Clinton over 10 newscasts spanning 20 months from August 1998 to June of 2000. NBC re-enforces the public/private binary in conventional masculine terms. Yet it also worked, at times, to unify the binary when covering Hillary Clinton's U.S. Senate campaign; on those occasions at least, NBC revealed the potential erosion of gender stereotypes and a small but still significant role for human agency in the study of gender ideology.

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