Abstracts from selected research papers. Click for the vita.
Smith, K.D., & Reichart Smith, L.M. (2012). “Officially, Unofficially: How the Colbert Super PAC Changes the Landscape of the Influence of Political Action Committees.”
Super PACs are becoming a serious player in American electoral politics. These organizations can accept unlimited funds to raise support for or against a political candidate. Though most Super PACs are serious business and have vowed their support of presidential candidates, one Super PAC has emerged that has raised multiple questions. Comedian Stephen Colbert is blurring the lines of satire and a fully engaged political actor with his new Super PAC, “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow”. Under federal election rules, the high profile media personality, backed by a parent company that is itself a vast media outlet, finds himself in a unique position. The Colbert Super Pac's goals have yet to be publicly revealed, but this paper begins that discussion, touches on the implications and urges further research into an emerging form of political advertising.
Cooley, S. C., & Smith, K.D. (2012) “In the Huddle: SCCT Analysis of NFL and Players’ Association 2011 Lockout Strategies.”
This study analyzes the crisis communication strategy selection of the National Football League (NFL) and the National Football League’s Players’ Association (NFLPA) during the 2011 lockout. The study uses Coombs Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT) model as a framework for analyzing official press releases from both sides of the dispute. The research demonstrated a majority use of strategies from the Deny cluster, while strategies from within the Diminish cluster was curiously underrepresented.
Reichart Smith, L.M. & Smith, K.D. (2011). “E-Sex-P-N: Athletic Form or Sex Appeal? An Analysis of the 2010 ESPN Magazine Body Issue.”
This study compared coverage differences in gender of athletes in the 2010 ESPN Magazine’s second annual “Body Issue.” Using a theoretical basis of framing, gender, paragraph and word amount, photograph size and amount, photograph motion and context, and amount of clothing worn in photographs were examined for incidence of gender bias. The study found strong evidence of an overall gender bias with an 80:20 split in both text and photographs skewing towards men. Females were featured most often in the special “Body” section of the magazine, where all athletes posed nude. Overall, these findings suggest gender bias is still present in mainstream sports media, despite recent research that has found an equalizing of coverage of male and female athletes. Framing of female athletes still seems to focus on their sexuality rather than their athleticism.
Reichart Smith, L.M., & Smith, K.D. (2011). “From Using to Participating: Examining the Need for New Theory.”
The emergence and success of powerful, simple-to-use online tools in political communication requires a new context. It has never been easier for a candidate to directly reach out to constituents and, conversely, for voters to interact with the campaign. Applying traditional theories and models to new technologies and behaviors can be problematic as these associations grow and strengthen. This paper proffers an examination of the media participation hypothesis, which posits that system satisfaction and political efficacy increases as involvement grows reliant on new formats and technologies, towards examining modern trends. The authors argue that a new model for the online mediated context is needed to explicate the shift in today's dynamic political communications.
Reichart, L.M. & Smith, K.D. (2010). “What a Difference a Download Makes: Political Advertising in the Digital Age.” In A Handbook of Research on Digital Media and Advertising: User Generated Content Consumption, eds. Neal Burns, Terry Daugherty, and Matthew S. Eastin.
The Internet has captured the attention of the media, the government and much of the public. It has changed the way Americans receive information and communicate. With a number of political candidates creating MySpace profiles, YouTube videos and Second Life avatars it appears that the Internet and web 2.0 technologies have been leveraged for political advertising and campaigning. In the early literature the Internet and its role in politics had been purely speculative, with research only making vague guesses as to where the Internet would lead politicians in their political ambitions. The following chapter first outlines a historical perspective of political advertising, then examines contemporary forms and avenues of political advertising.
Smith, K.D. (2010) “John Murtha, Act 3, Scene 2: Mourning in the media upon the death of the congressman.”
Days after becoming his state’s longest serving congressman, John Murtha of Pennsylvania died on February 8, 2010. If news coverage can be the re-telling of a life, shared opinions can be another framework in which we might see such a life. In death, as in life, there will be many opinions of a controversial figure. Such divisiveness is not unexpected from the man that said, “If I am corrupt, it’s because I take care of my district.” It has been interpreted as both an argument against personal profit and an argument of an era of congressional cynicism, themes which appeared in the media upon his death.
Smith, K.D. (2009) “Laughing Through the Election: An Agenda Setting Comparison on Cable Network News and The Daily Show.”
Approximately two months of programming were analyzed for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The O’Reilly Factor, and Hardball with Chris Matthews to compare the different agendas set forth by the new programs. The study found that, despite large differences between shows in the manner in which messages are delivered, the news agendas of the three programs are fairly similar. The primary differences in news agendas between the three programs fall along politically partisan lines, rather than a significant difference in 'hard' versus 'soft' news presentation. All programs present news within the constraints of an overarching news agenda, and all deliver partisan interpretations of that news to their audiences. The study sheds light on the growing intersect between information delivery and entertainment programming and the establishment of the mainstream news agenda within entertainment television content. The study proposes that future research should examine how the varying message delivery styles between comedy news, traditional news, and cable news programs influence message reception, attention, and retention.
Smith, K.D. (2009) “Hail to the Chief: Presidential face-ism on online news sites.”
This study observed the imagery selected news media used of President Barack Obama to observe the face-ism score of a prominent African-American politician in online media. Images from the front pages of seven websites of major daily papers in Obama’s first 100 days in office were used to determine whether the norms of face-ism with respect to race (lower face-ism index scores for African-Americans) hold true or whether the position of power (higher face-ism scores) trumps the habits of face-ism.
Smith, K.D. (2009). “Moving to Convergence Journalism: Cultural Changes in a University's News Outlets.”
A case study of one journalism department’s effort to implement multimedia change in curriculum and student-media outlets. Interviews with professors, student leaders and other student-journalists about the experiential changes within their own department and observation of others.
Smith, K.D. (2009). “Sport Pages Equality: An Analysis of Student Newspapers.”
This study examines race and gender coverage in the sport sections of student newspapers in a major United States sports conference. Previous research has examined coverage of race and gender and found that white males receive the greatest amount of coverage on the sports pages. This study will examine literature that looks at coverage of race and gender, and will apply framing theory to explain how athletes are portrayed within the medium. A content analysis will be used to examine the ratio of males to females and Blacks to Whites in article length, photographic images, and article placement on the sports pages from the 20082009 school year. Success of each of the conference teams will also be taken into account to determine if the coverage accurately reflects the athletic victories and accomplishments of the athletes and teams. Overall implications will consider if the sports pages in college newspapers accurately and equally reflect gender and race.
Reichart, L.M. & Smith, K.D. (2009). “Friend Me, Vote for Me: The Effect of Social Networking Sites on the 2008 Election.”
Three hundred and six undergraduate students were surveyed to determine the relationship between media participation in a mediated world (social networking sites) and voting behavior for the 2008 general election. The hypothesis of media participation was analyzed with regards to its applicability in a Web 2.0 time period.
Reichart, L.M., & Smith, K.D. (2008). “Will MySpace Take Me to Washington? An Analysis of the Impact of MySpace on Presidential Campaign Longevity.”
The MySpace pages of the sixteen 2008 presidential candidates were examined to determine if the specific features on each MySpace page had any correlation to campaign longevity. Pages could be personalized with blogs, videos, pictures, and graphics. A linear regression found that the individual features had no correlation to how long a presidential candidate’s campaign lasted. However, a linear regression found a strong correlation between the amount of friends a candidate had and the length of the political campaign. The conclusion can be reached that the number of supporters found on a presidential candidate’s MySpace page matters in terms of campaign longevity and is independent of the potential impact of other variables in the predictive model.