Moms in Chief explores womanhood in American politics

Dr. Tammy R. Vigil’s timely new book explores representations and perceptions of presidential candidates’ spouses and how societal stereotypes of womanhood affect them: “Moms in Chief reveals the ways in which the age-old rhetoric of republican motherhood maintains its hold on the public portrayal of womanhood in American politics and constrains American women’s status as empowered, autonomous citizens. Moms in Chief combines the study of history, gender, communication, and politics to show how the spouses of the major parties’ presidential nominees from 1992 to 2016 at times fulfilled, at other times flouted, but at all times were handicapped by this stereotype [of republican motherhood]. Tammy R. Vigil explores the function of presidential consorts in their spouses’ campaigns, and she scrutinizes how their portrayal by opponents, the press, and themselves has challenged or reinforced perceptions of the role of gender, and the place of women, in American political life.” Purchase the book here.

Vigil, T. R. (2019). Moms in Chief: The rhetoric of republican motherhood and the spouses of presidential nominees, 1992–2016. University Press of Kansas.

Tropes and themes in sitcoms for tweens

Dr. Patrice A. Oppliger’s new book explores “tweencom” TV shows and how parents and educators should discuss this media with the tweens who consume it: “Tweencom Girls analyzes the different ways character tropes are portrayed in media targeted at eight- to twelve-year-olds, particularly female characters, over the last twenty-five years. The book focuses particularly on sitcoms produced by the cable giants Disney Channel and Nickelodeon because of their popularity and ubiquity. It provides extensive examples and alternative interpretations of the shows’ tropes and themes, particularly for those who are unfamiliar with the genre. The first section explores common tweencom tropes, focusing on different themes that are prevalent throughout the series. The second section includes a discussion of the big picture of how tropes and themes give insight into the female characters portrayed in the popular tweencom programming, as well as advice to parents and educators.” Purchase the book here.

Oppliger, P. A. (2018). Tweencom Girls: Gender and adolescence in Disney and Nickelodeon sitcoms. Rowman & Littlefield.

How bots influence the spread of fake news on Twitter

Automated Twitter accounts – also known as “bots” – have been suspected of facilitating the spread of online fake news. Dr. Jacob Groshek, PhD student Li Zhang, and their colleague gathered over 14 million tweets that used the hashtag #fakenews to investigate who was posting about the topic. They found that the most active users in this discussion were likely to be bot accounts and that the tweets often accused CNN and other news organizations of spreading fake news. The research indicates that bot accounts can have a significant influence on people’s perceptions of mainstream media and on conversations about what constitutes fake news. Read the full article here.

Al-Rawi, A., Groshek, J., & Zhang, L. (2019). What the fake? Assessing the extent of networked political spamming and bots in the propagation of #fakenews on Twitter. Online Information Review.

Changing influences in China’s online news coverage

A new study by Dr. Lei Guo investigates changes in China’s online news environment. An analysis of over 30,000 news articles indicated that official Chinese news sources no longer fully control coverage of political events. A variety of sources shaped the coverage posted by commercial news websites, and both official and commercial news sites reciprocally influenced each other’s reporting. Read the full article here.

Guo, L. (2019). Media agenda diversity and intermedia agenda setting in a controlled media environment: A computational analysis of China’s online news. Journalism Studies, 1-18. Advance online publication.

How do people evaluate corporate misconduct?

How do people interpret the behavior of companies – and in particular, the misconduct of companies? In the wake of accusations about gender discrimination at Uber, Dr. Krishna and colleagues surveyed Americans about their expectations of companies’ priorities. When people perceived profit-making to be the most important purpose of a company, they didn’t judge corporate misconduct as harshly as those who believed companies have an ethical imperative. Despite this, both groups were motivated to share information about the corporate misconduct.Read the full article here.

Kim, S., Krishna, A., & Dhanesh, G. (2019). Economics or ethics? Exploring the role of CSR expectations in explaining consumers’ perceptions, motivations, and active communication behaviors about corporate misconduct. Public Relations Review, 45(1), 76–87.

Collaboration between public relations and legal professionals

Public relations practitioners sometimes work with legal counsel to co-develop strategies. A new study by Dr. Arunima Krishna and colleagues used interviews to illuminate when and how PR professionals in South Korea and Singapore coordinate with legal counsel. Although the collaborative process differed between the two countries, in both places PR and legal professionals coordinated more frequently during times of crisis. The interviews also revealed that legal professionals have become more invested in “winning in the court of public opinion,” in addition to the court of law. Read the full article here.

Kim, S., Krishna, A., & Plowman, K. (2018). Winning in the court of public opinion: Exploring public relations–legal collaboration during organizational crisis. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 24(1), 96–114.

New method to capture our daily digital experiences

In their latest article, Dr. Cummings and colleagues present a cutting-edge system of analysis that may change the way digital research is conducted: “Digital media … shape behavior by enabling people to switch between different content easily, and create unique threads of experiences that pass quickly through numerous information categories. Current methods of recording digital experiences provide only partial reconstructions of digital lives that weave – often within seconds – among multiple applications, locations, functions, and media. We describe an end-to-end system for capturing and analyzing the “screenome” of life in media, i.e., the record of individual experiences represented as a sequence of screens that people view and interact with over time. The system includes software that collects screenshots, extracts text and images, and allows searching of a screenshot database.”Read the full article here.

Reeves, B., Ram, N., Robinson, T. N., Cummings, J., Giles, C. L., Pan, J., … Yeykelis, L. (2019). Screenomics: A framework to capture and analyze personal life experiences and the ways that technology shapes them. Human–Computer Interaction, 1-52. Advance online publication.

Comparing ourselves to moral and immoral characters

People naturally compare themselves to others, especially when it comes to morals – and the same holds true for fictional others. Dr. Tsay-Vogel and her colleague conducted an experiment in which people were reminded of their own vices and then shown the behavior of a fictional character. When shown an immoral character’s behavior, people responded with contempt and a boost in mood. But when shown a moral character against which to judge themselves, people reacted with envy and suffered a worse mood. Read the full article here.

Tsay-Vogel, M., & Krakowiak, K. M. (2019). The virtues and vices of social comparisons: examining assimilative and contrastive emotional reactions to characters in a narrative. Motivation and Emotion, 1-12. Advance online publication.