J-School Wins at the AEJMC 2017 Conference

Esther Thorson receives award for her research at the AEJMC Conference. Photo by Kristiana Baker.
Bruno Takahashi and Perry Parks receive award for their research.

ComArtSci’s J-School continues to produce world-class work and make groundbreaking progress in research. The department brought home ten wins at the 100th Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) Conference in Chicago this month.

2017 Outstanding Woman in Journalism and Mass Communication Education Award
Leading the pack was the department’s director, Lucinda Davenport, Ph.D., who won the 2017 Outstanding Woman in Journalism and Mass Communication Education Award. She was selected by AEJMC’s Commission on the Status of Women.

“I feel like it’s an award that’s shared with everyone, because education and knowledge are shared goals,” said Davenport. “It means that I work with wonderful people who continue to learn throughout life. As students, as teachers, as alumni - we’re always learning from each other.”

It’s clear that the faculty around her are just as dedicated to education and knowledge, gaining recognition with eight more awards at AEJMC.

Great Ideas for Teaching Students Award
Associate Professor Serena Carpenter won the Great Ideas for Teaching Students Award for her practice of grading the audience during student presentations, rather than just the presenter. She found that student participation increased dramatically, and that the exercise resulted in students walking away with a better understanding of their classmates’ research interests.

“The award communicates the importance of pedagogical innovation in the classroom,” said Carpenter. “As educators, we need to creatively address ways to improve student engagement in order to deepen learning.”

Scholastic Journalism Top Paper
Assistant Professor Bruno Takahashi and graduate student and instructor Perry Parks won the Scholastic Journalism Top Paper for their study exploring the educational and post-graduation experiences of environmental journalism program graduates. Their research was a part of the Lilly Teaching Fellowship Takahashi participated in from 2015-2016.

The team examined the ways proficiency of journalistic skills, general and content-specific knowledge, communication theory and journalistic values allowed environmental journalism graduates to develop a niche in their careers. 

"We found an overemphasis in journalistic skills and vagueness about the importance of theory courses," said Takahashi.

Dissertation Award, Latino Top Paper Award and a Teaching Award
Assistant Professor Rachel Mourao won two awards related to her dissertation work. She received the Dissertation Award from the Mass Communication and Society Division and the Latino Top Paper Award from the International Communication Division for an article that came out of the dissertation.

“It is also extra special that one of our graduate students, Yadira Nieves, was also recognized this year, and Professor Joe Grimm won a teaching award with his immigration-related project in the same meeting,” said Mourao. “It was so great to see MSU winning three awards related to diversity and international affairs.”

Grimm’s project is the 100 Questions & Answers About Immigrants to the U.S. book from the Bias Busters series. His and Dawn Pysarchik’s work earned them the International Communication Teaching Award. Grimm said that this award recognizes the high level of professionalism that his students achieve on the series.

Creative Research Competition
Associate Professor and Director of Journalism Graduate Studies Geri Alumit Zeldes also had a double-win of sorts. Both of her projects, “Hubert: His Story,” a documentary film, comic book and website and “Faces of Flint,” a series of radio documentaries and videos, tied for first place in the Creative Research Competition. She said that the award is particularly gratifying since other professors who teach and create visual communication found her projects noteworthy.

“Whenever the caliber of judging is high, it elevates the esteem and meaning of the award,” said Zeldes. “What the award means is that we - students and faculty - who had a hand in these projects, can compete on a national level.”

Additional Awards
In addition, Ph.D. student Perry Parks won third place in the Cultural and Critical Studies Division for his paper detailing his experience using non-representational theory to disrupt a predictable, scripted news event. Assistant Professor Brendan Watson won a Mass Communication and Society Research Award and Grant  for his work, “Modeling Community Information Needs, Perceptions of Crime, and Attitudes Toward the Police,” and Professor Esther Thorson won the 2017 Eleanor Blum Distinguished Service to Research Award for her research at ComArtSci. 

By Kaitlin Dudlets