Division News

Mass Communication and Society Call for Papers

Media Theory and the 2016 U.S. Election

Guest Editor: Mike Schmierbach, Pennsylvania State University

Many aspects of the 2016 United States elections proved surprising for pundits and politicians alike. Most notable was the success of Donald Trump, a political novice, and polarizing figure who succeeded at topping a large primary field and pulling off the general election upset to become the 45th president of the United States. Alongside these events, broader debates over the civility of the candidates, the increasing polarization of the electorate, the role of social media and the rise of “alt-right” White nationalists all drew media attention.

Given this context, research on the topic has the potential to offer vital insights. Yet scholars should not assume the events of 2016 were unique or without roots in existing theories of political communication. Many of the issues raised in the most recent election are linked to thriving strands of theory and research. Voter cynicism and selective exposure are well-established phenomenon. Classic theories such as agenda setting, strategic framing, the spiral of silence and even the two-step flow of information may well help explain the choices potential voters made.

At the same time, the nature of mass media and their role in elections are changing, and scholarship must be updated to keep pace. The intersection of these two concerns – the long-standing theories that continue to be relevant to political communication scholars and the dramatic shifts in relevant variables – provide a vital opportunity for thoughtful scholarship.

Contributors are invited to submit to a special issue of Mass Communication and Society devoted to this intersection: a symposium on Media Theory and the 2016 U.S. Election. Submissions should draw upon data collected during the election or from studies explicitly designed in response to questions raised by the election. They should be strongly anchored in explicitly testing and advancing theories on the role of media in political processes. Submitters should be clear about the theoretical foundations driving their results and transparent about all data and analyses; null findings well-rooted in theory are valuable contributions and will receive equal treatment in the reviewing process. Studies should focus on theory advancement and explanatory contributions.
Submissions that span a diversity of methodological approaches and theoretical perspectives are welcome. Evidence and data may come from such approaches as traditional and online surveys, in-depth interviewing, textual analysis, laboratory and field experiments, and other appropriate techniques. They may have been collected during the 2016 primary or general election, or after the election in a design meant to probe questions raised by the election. Potential topics include but are by no means limited to the relationship between any of the following and voter attitudes, engagement, knowledge, discussion and participation:

• Selective exposure and homogeneity of information sources, including reliance on explicitly partisan media and social media outlets
• Direct communication by politicians using Twitter and similar social media platforms
• Gatekeeping procedures and equality of coverage, given candidate tactics for drawing attention as well as creating scandals
• Reliance on social media and online discussion as sources of campaign information
• Fact-checking and partisan resistance to corrective information and “mainstream” media outlets
• Stereotyping and hostility toward minorities by candidates, campaigns and audiences

Deadline for submissions: Manuscripts are to be submitted by November 1, 2017, via the Mass Communication and Society online system at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/mcas following the standard journal submission procedures. Authors should note in their cover letters that the submission is for the special issue devoted to “Media Theory and the 2016 U.S. Election.”
Final publication will be in Volume 21 (2018). Any questions concerning this call for papers may be directed to Professor Mike Schmierbach, mgs15@psu.edu.


MCS Division Announces Five New Teaching & Professional Freedom and Responsibility Awards for 2016

The MCS Division has funded five new monetary awards for teaching innovation, service-learning, recognizing adjuncts/instructors, and professional freedom and responsibility (PF&R).

The Adjunct/Instructor Award recognizes outstanding contributions of adjuncts and instructors in advancing teaching excellence in the field of mass communication.

The Teaching Ideas Competition recognizes innovation and excellence in teaching in the field of mass communication. This award builds upon the idea of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), which treats teaching as part of research agendas, using the same formal methodological techniques and standards of peer review.

The Service-Learning Award assists faculty by providing funds intended to offset a portion of the costs for working with communities, nonprofit clients, schools and governmental bodies in the classroom. Only those projects that encourage students to become involved in the community while at the same time utilizing/expanding their education and expertise will be considered.

The PF&R Award recognizes excellence in research, teaching or service related to the five PF&R principles identified by AEJMC (promotion of free expression; ethics; media criticism and accountability; racial, gender, and cultural inclusiveness; and public service).

The Professional Award recognizes professionals for upholding the values of professional freedom and responsibility, diversity and public service. It is open to any individual who has spent a significant portion of her/his career in mass communication industries (broadcast, print, photojournalism, advertising, public relations, social media, etc.).


Fuyuan Shen Named Mass Communication and Society Editor

Dr. Fuyuan Shen has been elected to serve as the sixth editor-in-chief of Mass Communication and Society, the MCS Division’s journal. His three-year appointment officially begins January 2017, however, transition to the position is already underway.

Dr. Shen is an associate professor at Penn State University’s College of Communications. He has served as a reviewer for the journal and a board member. He previously served the MCS Division as Research Co-Chair. In addition, Dr. Shen served as Editor of Taylor & Francis publication, the Asian Journal of Communication.

Because of Dr. Shen’s experience with the journal, MCS Division and Taylor & Francis publishing current MCS journal Editor, Dr. Ran Wei, feels the transition should be smooth.

“Dr. Shen has been a reviewer and board member of the journal; he is familiar with peer-review model of publishing. In addition, he was an associate editor of another peer-reviewed journal also published by Taylor & Francis,” said Wei. “I believe that the experience prepared him well for the new role as Editor of MCS.”

Dr. Shen will begin accepting and processing manuscripts for Mass Communication and Society over the next 15 months. After the transition period Dr. Shen will be responsible for editing the six yearly issues of the journal, deciding content of the journal, ensuring the journal follows accepted practices of academic peer review, overseeing the Editorial Board, bestowing journal awards, and fulfilling MCS Division responsibilities.

Dr. Shen’s appointment comes at a time when the journal is well-ranked and highly regarded in journalism and mass communication circles.

“I am truly honored to have been selected as the next editor of the journal,” said Shen. “I look forward to the opportunity to continue the exemplary work by Dr. Ran Wei and the Editorial Board in making the journal a premier platform to advance mass communication research.”

Dr. Shen plans to continue upholding the current quality of submissions while hoping to broaden the journal’s international and interdisciplinary appeal. In addition, Dr. Shen hopes to develop policies for the journal that increase transparency, integrity and reproducibility of research findings.


MCS Division to Award Members More Than $40,000 in 2016

The budget for the MCS Division has been set for 2016. Thanks to revenue generated by the “Mass Communication and Society” journal, this year the Division will be able to provide more than $40,000 in travel funds, research awards, teaching awards and PF&R awards to MCS members.

Returning Awards:

  • Trayes Service Award ($500)
  • Distinguished Educator Award ($500)
  • Promising Professors Awards ($950, 3 awards faculty, 3 awards grad students)
  • Dissertation Award ($3,000)
  • Top Reviewer Award ($250)
  • Open Competition Awards ($475, 3 awards)
  • Student Paper Awards ($475, 3 awards)
  • Moeller Paper Awards ($475, 3 awards)

Adjusted for 2016:

  • Research Awards ($20,000, 2 awards faculty; $5,000, 1 award grad student)
  • Midwinter Research Awards ($475, 3 awards)

New Awards for 2016:

  • Graduate Travel Awards – Midwinter Conference ($1,000, 2 awards)
  • Graduate Travel Awards – AEJMC Conference ($4,000, 4 awards)
  • PF&R Award ($250)
  • Professional Award ($250)
  • Adjunct/Instructor Awards ($475, 3 awards)
  • Research Poster Award ($50)
  • HD Presentation Award ($50)
  • Teaching Ideas Competition ($475, 3 awards)
  • Service-Learning Competition ($1,000, 2 awards)

Information on new awards will be posted on the website soon.