Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Journalists Roll Into Windy City
This past weekend, I attended the last two days of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) convention in Chicago. For me, the trip was exhausting. I flew out of Roanoke, Va., at 6 a.m. Friday morning, toured all of Chicago I could that day (while stopping by the conference for a session), gave my presentation Saturday morning and then flew back out of O'Hare to Roanoke at about 7 p.m. (Central time zone; I arrived in Virginia at approximately 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time).
I was pleasantly surprised with Chicago. I expected a dirtier, grittier appearance from the city that was Gotham in The Dark Knight. However, everywhere I went (with the exception of some of the suburbs and subway stations) was really nice. The people were nice, there wasn't the abundance of creepy people I've experienced in other large cities, and the atmosphere was fun and clean. Virtually everywhere in Chicago features a park, a fountain, music or art. The real estate is pricey, but I'd love to own one of the condos along Lake Michigan near the Navy Pier. The Chicago River is beautiful, and it makes the city reminiscent of Venice as it cuts through it, providing another venue for viewing the astounding architecture as riverboats speed through the heart of the Windy City. Chitown was definitely one of the best experiences of my life (even if the red line was shut down, making transportation a nightmare for a newcomer), and I would recommend a trip there to anyone who has yet to go. I will definitely try to return for a longer trip sometime.
The AEJMC conference was great, too. Though I wasn't able to go for every day of the conference, I still met a lot of cool journalism educators and professionals, and I got a great opportunity to present a research paper, Proximity and framing in news media: Effects on credibility, bias, recall, and reader intentions, of which I am first author along with authors Rachel DeLauder, Roxana Maiorescu (also VT graduate students) and Dr. Robert G. Magee (a professor in the Department of Communication at VT). I presented the paper to other AEJMC members on a panel of three other members other than myself (all faculty, I might note — as a lowly Master's student, that was uplifting), and there was a moderator and a discussant. The discussant was Dr. Sandra Utt, editor of the Newspaper Research Journal.
I think the presentation went OK. It's funny, because after I sat down, I didn't really remember giving it. Oh well, one of the other presenters told me I did well, and so did Dr. Magee and a few others. So, though I don't recall exactly what I said, I suppose everything went off well. Dr. Utt seemed to like the paper, though she didn't seem to think our stimulus materials were exactly 100 percent shall I say... valid? Well, apparently it seemed as though the stories we used were "obviously designed to ensure readership." I think what she may have meant is that the stories we constructed for experiment participants were too outrageous and therefore may have affected our results from the respondents somewhat. However, I think if we put something in the paper in a revision that notes that the stories came from real-life examples (an improper student-teacher relationship and a young boy falling from a tutor's balcony), then it may dispel such criticisms in the future. At any rate, I hope to submit the paper for publication once I receive a letter from the Newspaper Division and the turnaround there will likely by two to three months (if the reviewers don't require too much in the way of resubmission).
I also had a chance to see my former dean and ethics professor from Marshall, Dr. Corley Dennison, which was quite a treat. I was introduced to some other new faces in the field and got to experience first-hand how the top minds in academia interact. Overall, everything was really cool and both experiencing the city and the conference were valuable learning tools culturally and scholarly.
Expect a video of some of the sights and sounds of Chicago soon once I get the video edited!