9th Annual International Graduate Research Conference

2017 International Research Conference for Graduate Students (1)

SJMC graduate students at 9th Annual International Graduate Research Conference

The Graduate College at Texas State University hosted a conference for graduate student to showcase their research on Nov. 7-8. SJMC graduate students shared their research about Hurricane Harvey media coverage, relief efforts, immigration, the 2016 election and political interactions on social media by college students.

Mass Communication student Janel Lee presented her research on “If Hair is Relaxed, are Folks Truly Relaxed? A Study of Modern Audience’s Perceptions of Natural Hair in the Media.” She shared that audiences tend to have an overall positive viewpoint of natural hair while believing that natural hair in the media is portrayed in a more negative light. “I greatly enjoyed listening to the research of my fellow Mass Communication students ,” said Janel. “I also appreciated the opportunity to look at other schools’ research through the poster session.”


Mass Communication student Ryan Leach presenting his research paper at the conference

Another Mass Communication student Ryan Leach presented his research on “Visual Framing of Immigrants During the 2016 US Presidential Election.” He examined whether the New York Times employed xenophobic visual frames in the month leading up to the 2016 Presidential Election and found that the New York Times did not employ negative visual frames of immigrants.  “It was an overall pleasant experience,” said Ryan. “It was nice seeing some of the people in my online class in person.”

We are very of proud that many of our SJMC graduate students made a significant contribution to the conference. We would like to recognize and thank those who contributed to the success of the 9th Annual International Graduate Research Conference!

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SJMC Grad Students Got Seoul

SJMC graduate students, Nikole Smith and June Leal, presented their research in South Korea this past spring semester

Nikole Smith and June Leal are more than just the typical Texas State SJMC graduate students; these two jet-setters can now claim to be international scholars specializing in Korean popular culture. Nikole and June were able to merge their love for traveling and scholarship by collaborating on a research project, titled #OppaNoticeMe: The Influence of and Idol Instagram Account on Sasaeng Behavior, and presenting their research in Seoul, South Korea this past semester.

The Seoul International Conference on Social Sciences and Management held its third annual conference in February, which was a fitting choice for these two Texas State grad students when considering where to present their project. Nikole and June began working on this research endeavor in Dr. Rao’s International Communication course nearly one year ago and continued to work closely with Dr. Rao as they added the final touches to their submission. Their research focuses on the correlation between K-Pop, or Korean pop music, idols’ Instagram pages and saesang (fan) behavior.

“As a fan of K-Pop since 2005, I always hear stories about these saesangs’ behaviors and it just blew my mind at the lengths they would go to get these idols’ attentions,” said June.

The two hope that this will provide an understanding on how idols influence fan behavior, a topic that is scarcely covered in Korean popular culture research.

Smith and Leal are no strangers to traveling abroad, both having traveled to South Korea in the past, which ended up being a great excuse to travel once again.

“I honestly never thought that doing a project over K-Pop idols and saesangs would get me back to Korea. It’s one thing to present in front of your classes, but to present in front of other people in your field from all over the world is another level,” said June.

Not only were the duo able to present their research in the homeland of K-Pop, their research was noteworthy enough to secure publication in the International Journal of Communication and Media Studies.

“I would have never imagined that this project would have actually gotten us to Korea, let alone get published,” said Nikole.

These two SJMC grad students can proudly boast that their unique research article can be found in the April 2017 edition of IJCMS, a goal of nearly every grad student of the discipline.

As far as tips for traveling during your academic career, Nikole and June recommend aligning research undertakings with a topic and location that you are passionate about. Once you figure out your passion, the rest will fall into place. “Take the chance and do it! You never know where your research will take you are what things will happen when you travel. You can learn new concepts and meet interesting people, plus new opportunities may be presented in the future,” agreed Nikole and June.

If not on the campus of Texas State, these two can be found sipping on a South Korean favorite, bubble tea at the local San Marcos shop, Kung Fu Tea. As any SJMC grad student or instructor who has had the fortune of having Nikole and June in class know, these two live and breathe their research interests. Have a question about anything K-Pop or idol influences? Stop by and visit our resident experts for some invaluable knowledge about international research. You won’t be disappointed!

Check out these photos from their adventures in South Korea for your daily dose of jealousy!


Gilbert Martinez reunited with Okinawa

SJMC Senior Lecturer and Assistant Director Gilbert Martinez is known by many students for his life-questioning lectures and incomparable humor. But few are aware of what Martinez has been missing for the past 21 years of his life, or to be more precise, whom.

Martinez spent his summer preparing to present research to scholars in Okinawa, Japan which happens to be the birthplace of his mother. Although traveling across the world for business, Martinez will soon find the lost puzzle piece to his ancestry.


Martinez and wife with Okinawa family.

It started at the beginning May with an invitation to the Fifth Annual Symposium on International Business and Social Science. The conference has always been in Japan but what caught Martinez’s attention was the exact city it was taking place in, Okinawa. Martinez was thrilled to finally have a perfect opportunity to reunite with his family that he hasn’t seen in 21 years. His last trip to Okinawa was with his mother and siblings in 1995; unfortunately, six months after the trip Martinez’s mother passed away. After her death, Gilbert lost all contact with his Japanese roots. “When it comes down to it, half of my life was empty for 21 years because we really just lost touch,” said Martinez. Gilbert knew the search for his family wasn’t going to be easy but with hard work and good friends he knew it was possible.

Martinez’s first thought was to contact some friends who lived in Tokyo; one personal friend and a Texas State University alumni who is a Tokyo correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. After a few online searches in Japan there were still no major leads. Martinez then went through a box of old papers and found his mother’s old address book that contained the names of his cousins and uncle. Although it seemed like a major breakthrough, the information fell short since his uncle had passed and all of his cousins were married women with new last names. The biggest clue was found by Gilbert’s sister in-law who had his mother’s old wallet. In the wallet was a card to a flower shop that his family worked at in Okinawa and is still a thriving business today. Even though the staff of the flower shop had no knowledge of Martinez’s family, they were determined to help find them. He sent a picture of his trip from 1995 to the employees with hopes that they would recognize at least one of his family members. It just so happened that one of Gilbert’s cousin Kiyomi was featured in the local paper for becoming the first female fire captain for the Okinawa City Fire Department. The flower shop employee showed up to the fire station, asked if she was the girl in the picture and it was a match! Kiyomi even expressed she had been searching for Gilbert and his siblings as well.

After spending a few days at the symposium, Gilbert was finally reunited with his family. Martinez was overjoyed to see his aunt Yoko, who was his mother’s only surviving sibling living in her 70’s. Through mannerisms, gestures and movements he saw so much of his mother in Yoko and the rest of his family. Martinez said, “My biggest take a way (from the trip) is the importance of family. Even when you lose touch, even after 21 years have passed, family is family; there is nothing like it in the world.”  Over two decades of separation and searching from both ends, Gilbert and his Japanese origins were joined once again.

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SJMC student wins regional award for thesis

Sergio Carvajal-Leoni in a suit

Sergio Carvajal-Leoni. Photo from http://www.italchannel.tv

As a SJMC graduate student, Venezuelan-born Sergio Carvajal-Leoni, won a campus-wide award for his thesis, the Graduate College’s Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award in Digital Scholarship.

Now he has won again, at the highest level, the regional level, where he is receiving the Digital Scholarship award from the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools. His award, a plaque and $1000 honorarium, will be presented at the CSGS Awards Luncheon at the Omni Charlotte Hotel in Charlotte, NC on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 at 11:30 a.m., and he attributes some of his success to his time at Texas State.

“The stuff I did in San Marcos, was the best decision of my life,” he told me. “I’ve decided to finish up with a PhD.”

Carvajal-Leoni called his research project the Intercultural Transmedia Approach to Learning, or ITAL.

“I’ve been working on models of community building media,” he said. “Any group of people who share an interest.”

By founding ITAL, he was able to focus on applying Communication Infrastructure Theory while creating a hyper-local documentary series called the Texan Italian Stories.

The key research concept behind the series, was how creating media could bring together the Italian niche community in Central Texas.

He attributed his success to both the freedom and guidance his thesis supervisor, Dr. Sandy Rao, provided him.

Carvajal-Leoni also thanked two Texas State University researchers on his thesis committee, Dr. Federico Subervi and Dr. Moira DiMauro.

ITAL partner, Romina Olson

Romina Olson. Photo from http://www.italchannel.tv

“Texas State played a crucial role in that journey,” Carvajal-Leoni told me. “This award is like, a validation, that this was the right journey to take.”

Despite being the lead researcher, writer, editor and director, Carvajal-Leoni was very modest about his achievement. He praised his ITAL partner, Romina Olson, as well as two USC researchers Dr. Sandra Ball-Rokeach and Dr. Henry Jenkins that played an instrumental role in the project.

If there’s one thing Carvajal-Leoni made clear, he loves Texas.

“I’ve been living in Austin since ’99,” he said. “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.”

SJMC to help state reach Medicare beneficiaries

Researchers in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication have received a $448,800 award to help the State of Texas connect with rural and low-income Medicare beneficiaries who might be eligible for additional assistance.

The grant from the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) will allow Texas State University to research the most effective strategies for communicating with and educating Texans who are on Medicare or who will be within the next five years. The effort is part of a larger state-federal project, the Medicare Improvement for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA), to improve access to Medicare and ensure low-income beneficiaries get the medical care they need.

Through interviews, surveys and other outreach efforts, Texas State’s team will evaluate how older Texans are using the media and learning about Medicare-specific services, including Medicare savings programs, low income subsidies, Medicare Part D and prevention and wellness benefits. Researchers will then develop strategies to more effectively reach these target audiences.

Judy Oskam, professor and director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is leading a team with expertise in media, creative strategy, adult education and outreach.  “We are excited to work with the aging network across the state to determine the best way to reach key audiences with Medicare information,” Oskam said.

Texas State’s final report will be used to support the state and the area agencies on aging (AAAs) in reaching beneficiaries. The AAAs are responsible for communicating aging-related materials to seniors in local communities.

For more information about Texas State’s involvement in this project, please contact Dr. Judy Oskam at 512-245-2656 or oskam@txstate.edu.

The Texas State University MIPPA Project team includes Kelly Kaufhold (research director), Judy Oskam (PI) and research associates Jenny Buschhorn, Kym Fox, Vanessa Higgins Joyce, Gigi Taylor, Jacie Yang and Carrie Boden-McGill. Grant coordinators Jessica James and Dan Seed and three graduate research assistants, Zahra Khani (Geography), Rana Zeidan (Social Work) and Yazmin Rodriguez (Health Administration), are also working on the project.  Lisa Westerbeck, C3 Research Coordinator, has provided budget and staff support.

Strategic Opportunities for Students to Transfer to Texas State

Harry BowersOn November 24, Assistant Director Harry Bowers met with Marianne Odem, Chair of the Media Communication Department at San Antonio College (SAC), and members of her faculty. The goal of the meeting was to review changes to both schools’ institutional core and program curricula, and to review and develop strategies to maximize opportunities for two-year college students planning to transfer to Texas State. Assistant Director, Bowers was honored to be informed by SAC that the School of Journalism and Mass Communication is about the most student-centered institution that San Antonio College has worked with in assisting transfer students.

For more information about The Media Communication Department at the San Antonio College (SAC), please visit http://www.alamo.edu/sac/mediacomm/.

Oskam talks hybrid courses at World Journalism Education Congress in Belgium

BelgiumSchool of Journalism and Mass Communication Professor and Director Judy Oskam gave a presentation as part Broadcast Education Association’s Ignite session at the World Journalism Education Congress on July 5, 2013 in Mechelen, Belgium.  Oskam’s presentation focused on hybrid and online teaching strategies for mass communication classes.  You can see the slides from her presentation below.

Cultural Enlightenment and International Connections

scholarsDr. Cindy Royal traverses Europe, works with journalists, attends ICA:

As a college professor, I often get to attend academic conferences, which can take place at many locales around the globe. This summer, I chose to attend the International Communication Association (ICA) conference in London. Since I was going to travel so far, I decided to make a trip out of it, both personal and professional. The first two weeks were mostly for fun. I had an amazing visit to Italy, with a stop off in Paris before heading to London for the professional part of my journey.

It was my first time in Italy, and I was enthralled by the beauty, culture and food of each city. Rome is a thriving metropolis integrating modern and ancient in unexpected ways. My hotel was right next to the Pantheon, one of the oldest buildings in continuous use in the city. I visited the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum and Ruins and the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. I even got to see the Pope as he greeted the crowd before a public mass.

In Florence, I enjoyed the Uffizi and Accademie galleries, where I saw many wonderful works including Michelangelo’s Statue of David. I walked the steps of the Boboli Gardens and Piazzale Michelangelo. From Florence, I was able to take a quick train trip to Lucca, where I rented a bike to tour the city’s enclosed walls. All the walking and biking helped to work off the delicious pizza, pasta and gelato I enjoyed every day.

Venice was incredibly beautiful, every square inch of it. The colorful buildings surrounding the canals make for a spectacular landscape. It was fun to explore and get lost along its alleys and byways.

After Italy, I made a stop in Paris, which required a new language and a change of cuisine. In Paris, I visited the Musee d’Orsay, Montmartre and, of course, the Eiffel Tower. I had the opportunity to meet with scholars Sylvain Parasie of Paris Est University and Eric Dagiral of Paris Descartes University who do research in the area of interactive news. They are both in the sociology departments at their respective universities, and I enjoyed sharing the details of our shared interests.

My next and final stop was London. I spent 12 days in the UK, continuing some sightseeing, but moving on to the professional part of my trip. While in the UK, I visited with Jonathan Hewett and George Brock at City University’s Interactive Journalism Master’s Program, Thanassis Tiropanis and Leslie Carr in the Web Science Program at Southampton University and Eric Meyer and Ralph Schroeder at Oxford University’s Internet Institute.  I took great inspiration from their progressive and interdisciplinary approaches.

I also had the opportunity to work at the Guardian with their Interactive News team. I spent three days working with Rich Harris, Jonathan Richards, Robin Beitra and others. While there, I assisted with debugging a Web scraping program and attended meetings on the Firestorm multimedia project and best practices in Web development. It was definitely a valuable and enriching experience for which I am grateful.

The personal highlights in London were visits to the Tate Modern Gallery and the David Bowie Exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I also loved walking around Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and Soho. And I got to see the London production of Book of Mormon and attended a concert by the U.S. band The Breeders at the London Forum. I also got to spend time with Alex Hering, a 2010 Texas State graduate now working and living in London.

The final stop on my trip was the conference. ICA brings together scholars from around the world covering all aspects of communication. I attended panels on data and multimedia journalism, attended the launch of the new Digital Journalism academic journal and got to spend time with friends and academic colleagues Amy Schmitz-Weiss (San Diego State University), Alfred Hermida (University of British Columbia), Carrie Brown Smith (University of Memphis), Corinne Weisgerber (St. Edward’s University), Margaretha Geertsema-Sligh (Butler University), Andrea Hickerson (Rochester Institute of Technology) and more.

You can see more pictures from my trip at cindyroyal.tumblr.com.

Now that I am home, things are a bit of a blur, and I am trying to organize my thoughts around all these new and enlightening experiences. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to explore these beautiful places. I will be spending the next few weeks teaching summer school and prepping for the Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford, starting in September.

Professor Grimes speaks on Sandy Hook shooting

SJMC students Micah Bustos and Alexandra Walker interviewed Professor Tom Grimes about his recent USA Today op-ed regarding the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, CT. Grimes provided his insights on the tragedy and discussed some of his research on media violence.

Professor Tom Grimes on Media Violence from SJMC at Texas State University on Vimeo.

Scholars and professionals gather to assess Spanish-Language and Latino-Oriented media

February 21-23 at Texas State University-San Marcos
Organized by the Center for the Study of Latino Media and Markets (CSLM&M) in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Over 70 scholars, media professionals and graduate students in the field of mass communication are expected to attend the Fourth International Spanish-Language and Latino-Oriented Media Conference slated for February 21 -23 at Texas State University-San Marcos.  International scholars from universities in Barcelona, Colombia, Mexico and Puerto Rico, as well as the United States, will present their research work, findings, theories and assessment on topics including marketing communication, media ownership and practices, media and society, telecommunication and media policies, media adoption and culture, and electronic and interactive communication among others.

“The demographic changes witnessed through the last two decades in the Americas have been an inspiration to continue exploring and assessing topics that impact the media,” stated Dr. Federico Subervi, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Media and Markets (CSLM&M) and conference organizing committee president. “This is the largest regular gathering of scholars, media professionals and students focused on Spanish-language and Latino-oriented media in the hemisphere and also in Spain,” added Subervi.

Dr. Sindy Chapa, associate professor, the Center’s assistant director, and organizing committee president, added that “the conference is a vehicle for other scholars, and graduates students to share their research on Spanish-language media, and Latino consumers – with faculty, practitioners, and  peers by empowering the importance of research development opportunities  targeting the Latino communities in the U.S. Dr. Chapa stated that “this year’s conference will highlight the participation of NBC Latino.com, VOXXI.com, iLatino.TV/Gobba.TV, Fox news Latino, Patch AOL Latino and Huffington Post Latino Voices during the Saturday, February 23 nine am plenary session at the LBJ Ballroom. Overall, the three day conference will have nine sessions comprising fifty four presentations by academics, graduate students and professionals. For additional information, contact http://www.masscomm.txstate.edu/cslm.