Forget the Cubs’ win … ComSHER is back in town

by Anthony Dudo, Division Head

Chicago and the annual AEJMC conference go together like peanut butter and jelly. So how very fitting that we’ll be celebrating our organization’s 100th annual conference on the banks of Lake Michigan! What’s more, judging by the looks of this year’s phenomenal program, us ComSHER folks will be in a festive mood.

Our Teaching and PF&R chairs have engineered some truly engaging and timely panels that I hope you all will be able to attend. Our secretary has arranged what promises to be a magnificent field trip to Chicago’s famed Adler Planetarium. And, as has become the norm, our research program is poised to showcase research that is innovative and in line with this year’s conference theme: enhancing links between communication research and communication practice. Please mark your calendar now for our top paper session, which will be held on Friday, Aug. 11 from 5:15 to 6:45 p.m.

Please also note that the ComSHER business meeting will be held immediately after the top paper session on Friday, Aug. 11 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.  This meeting is when we will recognize our many award winners, including the Top Faculty Paper, Eason Prize for best student paper, Article of the Year, and Top Poster Award. Approval of the minutes from last year’s meeting will also be an order of business, so please review the them beforehand here:

For those of you who haven’t attended our business meeting yet, it’s the place to be if you want to have a voice in the future of our division. It also provides an exceptional opportunity for newer members to meet other “SHER” scholars who may share similar interests. And, to help bolster these networking opportunities, we will hold the always-popular ComSHER social immediately following the business meeting. Join us at 8:30 p.m. in the Rush Bar & Lounge in the Marriott Chicago Downtown.

For those interested in leadership, the process according to our bylaws is as follows. For elected leadership—Head, Vice Head, Vice Head-Elect, and Research Chair—nominations must be submitted to me ( ) via email 48 hours before the business meeting. In order to qualify for any of the elected leadership positions, a member must have served as an officer at any level for a minimum of one year and reviewed papers for at least two years. The bylaws also make clear that a stable succession of leadership from Research Chair to Vice Head-Elect to Vice Head to Head is highly desirable. This succession order should only vary if someone is unable or unwilling to continue in the leadership progression.

For appointed positions in leadership—Professional Freedom and Responsibility Chair, Teaching Chair, Secretary, Newsletter Chair, Social Media Chair, Website Chair, Membership Chair, Grad Student Liaison—up to two people can be appointed to each of these positions to facilitate transitions to new chairs and involve more people in division activities. Graduate students may only serve in the capacity of Grad Student Liaison, Secretary, Newsletter Chair, Website Chair, and Social Media Chair. Although all division members are eligible and can indicate interest for these positions, preference will be given to members with a history of involvement with and service to the division, most importantly work in other appointed division positions, reviewing conference papers, panel organization/participation and attendance/involvement at division panels, events, and meetings.

Enjoy reading through the rest of our summer 2017 newsletter. This marks my last newsletter post as the head of ComSHER. I was first introduced to our division in 2005, when it was still an “interest group” with a different name. My how we have grown. I’ve been a part of the ComSHER leadership team for the last seven years and it’s been wonderful watching our membership and accomplishments expand so rapidly. We continue to exhibit some of the top metrics among AEJMC divisions, while balancing that productivity with our trademark friendly vibe. I look forward to seeing you all in August. And I look forward to our division’s future in the hands of its exceptional leaders and members.

Another Banner Year for ComSHER Submissions

by Rachel Young, Research Chair

This year ComSHER received 124 research paper submissions, on par with the 129 received in 2016. By adding an additional paper session and poster session, we were able to accept 70 papers. We had a particularly strong year for student submissions, with 34 student-only papers, 17 of which were accepted.

Many thanks to the 104 reviewers who read and ranked the submissions. Each paper received three reviews, with the highest scores winning top paper honors. ComSHER Chair Anthony Dudo will moderate the top paper panel from 5:15 to 6:45 p.m. on Friday. This year, our top papers span the domains of health, environment, and risk:

First Place Faculty Paper
Risk as Anxiety in Mental Illness: Negative Emotions, Coping Responses, and Campaign Engagement Intention
Jiyoung Lee and Hua Jiang, Syracuse

Second Place Faculty Paper
Exploring the Effects of Character and Cued Typicality in Health Narratives
Jiangxue (Ashley) Han and Shanshan Lou, Appalachian State University

Third Place Faculty Paper
Promoting Multivitamins to College Women: An Examination of Source, Message, and Audience Characteristics
Jennifer Ball, Temple University, Allison Lazard, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Michael Mackert, University of Texas

Fourth Place Faculty Paper
Communicating the Flood: The Role of Communication During Extreme Weather Events in Shaping Climate Change Engagement
Ashley Anderson, Colorado State University

Eason Prize Winner/Top Student Paper
Do Narratives Attenuate Message Resistance? A Meta-Analysis
Chelsea Ratcliff, University of Utah

Twenty more papers will be presented in paper sessions on risk communication during outbreaks and health misinformation online (Wednesday), climate communication (Thursday), and health campaigns (Saturday). Forty-five papers will be presented as posters at scholar-to-scholar sessions at 5 pm on Thursday and 12:15 p.m. on Friday. We’re looking forward to lots of great discussions in Chicago. Thanks again to the reviewers who make this massive undertaking possible!

ComSHER Teaching Panels at AEJMC 2017

Teaching Controversy in the Classroom: Best Practices for Engaging Students about Politically Contentious Science, Environmental, Health, and Risk Issues
Wednesday, August 9, 5 – 6:30 p.m.

Co-sponsors: ComSHER and Political Communication Interest Group

Bringing together junior and senior scholars with expertise in political and/or science/health/environmental/risk (SHER) communication, panel participants will discuss their best practices for teaching graduate and undergraduate students about the intersection of political and SHER communication. In particular, how can we effectively discuss motivated reasoning, political polarization, and other concepts in the classroom with the next generation of SHER/political communication scholars? The panel discussion will touch on must-have course readings, must-cover theoretical frameworks and topics, and must-do class assignments and activities.

Katie Abrams
Department of Journalism and Media Communication
Colorado State University

Zeynep Altinay
Department of Mass Communication
Iona College

Ashley Anderson
Department of Journalism and Media Communication
Colorado State University

Amy Bree Becker
Department of Communication
Loyola University Maryland

Sharon Dunwoody
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Public Relations, Public Health, Public Good: Preparing a New Generation of Nonprofit and Public Sector Communications Professionals
Wednesday, August 9, 8:15 – 9:45 a.m.

Co-sponsors: ComSHER and Public Relations Division

This panel will demonstrate varying approaches to prepare students for work in nonprofit public relations with a special focus on health, science, and the environment. Panelists will share their experiences with classroom innovation in this area, including examples of effective activities and case study suggestions that will help prepare students for the unique challenges within a non-profit career path.

Brooke McKeever
School of Journalism and Mass Communications
University of South Carolina

Geah Pressgrove
Reed College of Media
West Virginia University

Katherine Rowan
Department of Communication
George Mason University

Autumn Shafer
School of Journalism and Communication
University of Oregon

Christopher Wilson
School of Communications
Brigham Young University

ComSHER PF&R panels at AEJMC 2017

Communicating Science and Environmental Issues within the Context of Elections
Friday, Aug 11, 2017, 3:30 – 5:00 pm

Co-sponsors: ComSHER and Political Communication Interest Group

This panel will explore the intersection of media and politics with an eye toward scientific and environmental issues facing society. How are issues at the interface of science and society communicated to publics in periods of heightened media attention? What does this mean for journalists working in these areas? How do political and science/environment topics overlap in mediated spaces and what are the implications of these connections?

Dietram A. Scheufele (confirmed)
John E. Ross Professor in Science Communication,
Department of Life Sciences Communication
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dhavan Shah (confirmed)
Maier-Bascom Professor
School of Journalism & Mass Communication
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Arthur Lupia (invited)
Hal R. Varian Collegiate Professor of Political Science
University of Michigan

Shannon Heffernan (confirmed)

Moderator: Sara K. Yeo, University of Utah (ComSHER)

Global Inequities in Health: The Ethics of Forgotten Communities
Friday, Aug 11, 2017, 1:45 – 3:15 pm

Co-sponsors: ComSHER and International Communication

In March 2014, Ebola cases emerged in West Africa. In total, 11,315 people died from the epidemic. 11,309 deaths occurred in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Nigeria. And yet, American media covered little of the epidemic until September, focusing primarily on the four cases in the United States. Likewise, Zika was given very little attention until a case emerged in Florida. This ethnocentric news coverage in American is not unique, nor is it a contemporary phenomenon. The proposed panel showcases the health concerns of different groups have been ignored, marginalized, and delegitimized, reinforcing hegemonic notions of race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, and other intersections. Through research on HIV in Tanzania, cultural barriers for the Roma people in Europe, eradication discourse of polio, and other studies, we will discuss the ethical implications for media’s role in these global inequities.

Katie Foss (confirmed)
Assistant Professor
School of Journalism
Middle Tennessee State University

Adina Schneeweis (confirmed)
Associate Professor
Department of Communication and Journalism
Oakland University

Ammina Kothari (confirmed)
Assistant Professor
School of Communication
Rochester Institute of Technology

Janet Kwami (confirmed)
Associate Professor
Department of Communication Studies
Furman University

Moderator: Irene Awino, University of Oregon