Dancing for A Cause

By Mona Malacane

Warning, I’m about to state the obvious: It is so easy to get swept up by all the short term deadlines in academia. For example, I am currently looking at my list of things to complete this week and it is full of class readings, running experiments, writing papers, homework, errands, and 15 minute blocks of exercise. If you let it, grad school can hijack your life. Sometimes it feels like I’m walking around with blinders on. My blog story this week snapped me out of the deadline-haze and made me reflect on the things outside of my grad school bubble, which have become way too easy to lose sight of.

This week, I sat down with Andrew Weaver and he shared with me his son Owen’s story. Owen was born three months premature at Bloomington Hospital, weighing only 1 pound, 15 ounces. He was airlifted immediately to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis where he stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit for 4 months. When he was finally able to go home with Andrew and Nicole, he was still on oxygen even though he was healthy and his prognosis was very positive.

Owen the builder

Owen and his banner at the 2013 IUDM.

Owen is now five years old, in kindergarten, a big brother to Nicole and Andrew’s younger son Elliott, and can correctly name all of his toy construction equipment. (If I were psychic I would predict that he is a future engineer in the making.) But he would not be thriving today without the amazing doctors and nurses at Riley. “It’s a research hospital affiliated with IU, and the research that they’ve done there on how to deal with premature infants and how to get their lungs healthier and how much oxygen to give them and when to give to them, it’s all research that they’ve done there at the hospital … and that saved his life,” Andrew explained. So when Andrew and Nicole were contacted by someone at the IU Dance Marathon, which raises money and awareness for Riley Hospital, they of course said yes.

IUDM is a year-long fundraiser that culminates in a marathon where alternating groups of participants (mostly students) stay on their feet for 36 hours, a lot of the time, dancing. But IUDM isn’t just about raising money; it’s also a celebration for Riley families and Riley kids like Owen. “At the marathon itself, they have a bounce house and all kinds of stuff for the kids to do and of course thousands of college students who want to play with them. They [Owen and Elliott] have a great time and always look forward to it.” It is a massive production. There are concerts, bands, games, and speakers; Colts players and IU athletes stop by and shake hands; and many Riley families tell their stories. “There’s a lot going on at different times but they do a great job of planning it so there is always something interesting happening.” To give you an idea of how large of a production the IUDM here are some quants –  it is the second largest student-run philanthropy in the country and it raised $2.6 million last year.

Aside from the millions of dollars they raise, Andrew explained that the students behind this fundraiser are what truly make the organization and marathon special. “What really has an impact on us emotionally is just the lengths that these students are going to and the dedication that they have. Because it’s not just this weekend … they start meeting weekly, twice weekly for some of them, early in the Spring to start planning this year’s event. And they have lots of other events throughout the year,” he said. “The time that they are spending is more than a full-time job for a lot of these students who are in charge of IUDM for months and months … and they are doing it on top of being a student and on top of their own lives. So to see the effort and sacrifices that they make in such a selfless way, it’s amazing.”

Owen at a committee meeting

Andrew and Nicole are now faculty advisers for the whole organization. This is a picture of Owen at one of the committee meetings!

If you want to learn more about the organization you can visit their website , their blog, or watch this amazing video  that explains what the organization is about and even has. The Marathon begins this Friday, November 14 at the Tennis Center! So if you want to see some of the activities you can check it out at the visitors center or there will be a live feed of the entire marathon on their website. Start fundraising now if you’d like to participate next year!

The Science of Morality

by Teresa Lynch

Left to right: Nic Matthews, Andrew Weaver, and Nicky Lewis

Since roughly the beginning of 2012 Professor Andrew Weaver and PhD students Nicky Lewis and Nic Matthews have been meeting with a multidisciplinary group to discuss morality. This group had grown and evolved and is now has a formal name – Science of Morality Interest Group.

The group began not long after Professor John Kruschke of the Psychology department completed teaching a seminar on morality. Nicky says that “[Dr. Kruschke] started [the] moral perspectives research group, where people from all disciplines with an interest in morality could come together and basically bounce ideas off of each other. Since the group is made up of people from all different schools and departments, such as philosophy, drama, business, etc., we all get to share ideas from different points of view.”

The three Telecom participants see much value in such multifaceted thinking.  Andrew noted that “when you dive into the research that’s being done in other disciplines, you’re bound to uncover some worthwhile information. We’ve also found that conducting research using games is a way to address barriers that morality researchers from other disciplines have come up against. For example, philosophers or psychologists using traditional thought experiments to study moral decisions are capturing a type of decision making that is very specific and often much more deliberative/artificial than what one would experience in real life. Video games provide us with the opportunity to study decision making in much more natural contexts. Other members of the group have been very receptive to using games as a means to examine these behaviors.”

And the use games for studying moral choice has been one major contribution from the Telecom contingent. Regarding that contribution, Nic said “it’s great. Talking about games as a method sparks lots of conversation. People genuinely get excited at the thought of simulating moral decision making by embedding participants in virtual environments.”

For Andrew and Nic, their interest and previous work on media violence – sometimes specifically addressing violence in games – offered a natural bridge into research on moral choice. Andrew explained that “the real hook for me, though, was the choice involved with certain types of game violence. A first person shooter where the objective is just to mow down the opposition is one thing, but when a player gets to make real decisions about whether or not to harm another character … well, that sort of input into the aggressive act is something that’s just not a part of other types of media violence  I believe that the shift from observer to actor in this context is an important shift, but we know very little at this point about what the impact of this actually is. Because these kinds of decisions in games were often framed as moral choices, we then jumped into this line of research.”

Nicky’s interest in morality was piqued a bit differently. She explained that although her previous work had largely investigated participation in the competitive environments of fantasy sports, she had some exposure to moral choice but in a different way – “through traditional disposition theory and how that theory informed the behavior of sports fans.”  Her participation in one of Andrew’s projects on moral choice in games got her involved with morality in a more focused way. She says she has been strongly influenced by this line of research in ways she didn’t expect, even beginning to “[ask]different types of questions now, especially as it relates to how individuals form evaluations about others. Working with Andrew has been a great experience and getting our first research project published validated the importance of this research. The opportunities in this area are wide open and the advantages that using videogames have for answering questions related to moral decision-making are palpable.”

Image from Fallout 3, the game used in Andrew and Nicky’s study.

Andrew’s collaborative study with Nicky titled “Mirrored Morality: An Exploration of Moral Choice in Video Games” was recently published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. The study has also received recognition in Popular Science, a mixed blessing according to Andrew. Although he appreciates the recognition and realizes that for work in our field to make a difference it must be disseminated to the broader community, he also see the attention as “a double-edged sword.” He says that although many of the journalists he’s spoken with have the best intentions, they are charged with the difficult task of boiling a complex scientific study full of nuance into a brief and generally digestible piece. This often leads to misrepresentation in some way, a problem Andrew says “can be a bit discouraging.”

Still, the future of studying morality in our department and beyond is bright. Drawing from the Science of Morality Interest Group and other sources Nic notes that “the area is ripe for exploration. In our meetings I hear so many great and untapped ideas that I end up with numerous study ideas after each meeting. It seems like the challenge is picking where to start rather than generating ideas.” Similarly, Andrew sees positive future outcomes of the group as he says “there is a lot of brainstorming that goes on in these meetings, and already some of the ideas from other members of the group – things we never would have thought of had we stayed grounded in the comm literature – have been incorporated into the ongoing studies that we’ve been working on. We also have at least one concrete study idea using interdisciplinary collaboration that we’re hoping to get funding to conduct in the next year.”

Regarding the fruitfulness of collaborations within Telecom, Andrew also sees great things happening. He says he has “enjoyed working with both Nicky and Nic on these projects. Great graduate students – and both of them are – bring ideas and motivation that can really energize a body of research. These studies wouldn’t be half of what they are if it wasn’t for their input and effort.”

Fourth Brown Bag of the Semester – September 28, 2012

The audio from last Friday’s seminar can be found here: Brown Bag – September 28, 2012 (Andrew Weaver).

Andrew Weaver

Good behavior, bad behavior:  Moral perspectives in video games

In this talk, Andrew discusses a program of research examining the increasing utilization of moral decisions in video games. Depictions of morality have long been considered a key feature of narrative entertainment, serving to give audiences an anchor point and form dispositions of the characters. One of the key issues to address, then, is how the role of moral decisions changes in an interactive context. He also considers the features of game play that might encourage (or discourage) moral perspective-taking and the potential long-term impact of taking on new moral perspectives. Several scholars from both within Telecommunications and across the university are currently working on studies addressing these questions; data from some of these studies will be presented and current and future work will be discussed.

Andrew Weaver, PhD (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2006), is an Assistant Professor of Telecommunications at Indiana University, Bloomington.  His program of research could broadly be described as media psychology. That is, he is interested in why people consume certain types of content and how this content affects them.  His work is informed by what we know about mental processes. He currently has research projects in progress in three focus areas: media violence, moral choice in video games, and race and selective exposure.

Team Telecom Runs, Awards and Fellowships Workshop, Younei Soe’s Dissertation Award, Ron Osgood’s Presentation, Brown Bag

Team Telecom Runs, by Mike Lang

A few years ago I remember sitting in the movie theater and an advertisement for one of the branches of the armed services came on. A bunch of athletic guys in black shirts and camo pants ran through an obstacle course, and occasional close ups showed their various exertion induced grimaces. At the very end, brushed chrome letters appeared reading, “pain is weakness leaving the body.” Every time I see a runner chugging through campus with that similar grimaces, I’m reminded of those brushed chrome letters as I recount the agony of my few running experiences. Running is pain, yet a number of those within our department fight through it in their quest for camaraderie, a healthy lifestyle, new challenges, and charity.

Established at the Jill Behrman 5k last year, Team Telecom brings together the runners in our department. While most races fall into the 5k category, there are also 7ks, 10ks, mini marathons, and marathons. Although the races are timed, the only competition Team Telecom advocates is competition with yourself. As Matt Falk says, one of the mottos of the group is “start together, finish together.” Although everyone runs at a different pace, those who finish at the head of the pack stay around to cheer on those further behind. In some cases, they even turn back to run with them to the finish line. Nicky Lewis, who started running in races last fall at Betsi Grabe’s insistence, was apprehensive at first about running in public with a bunch of more experienced runners. However, after crossing the finish line for the first time, and seeing the amount of support from her teammates, she caught the bug. Falk characterizes Team Telecom as a successful anarchy. There are no rules or leaders, but things get done.

Reed Nelson is currently training for a marathon.

In the wintertime, organized racing comes to a halt but not Team Telecom. On a few occasions, the group collaborated and set up informal races of their own. As Lindsay Ems tells me, the group established a 3.5 mile route that they would all run. Walt Gantz served as the official timer, driving from mile marker to mile marker and providing encouragement along the way. They made sure to end the route in front of Bloomington Bagel Company so they could enjoy breakfast with each other afterwards.

Although all run the same race, everybody’s running style and reason for running differs substantially. Nicky Lewis, for instance, hates running but loves listening to music, and running gives her that opportunity while engaged in a health enhancing activity. Practically married to her iPod, Nicky sets up playlists that correspond to both the total time she wants to run, and her projected mile time. Relying on a website that uses a song’s tempo to determine how fast runners would run a mile if they ran to the beat of the music, Nicky has been able to cut her mile time down by a full minute. Likewise, Matt Falk uses music in ways that correspond to his body’s needs while running. Using GPS and a heart rate monitor, Falk is able to accurately track changes he feels his body undergoing, and he creates his playlist to match those changes. For instance, he might start off with some fun peppy music to get him started. When he hits the brick wall around 10 minutes, he can program Slayer’s “Angel of Death” to pump him up enough to get over the hump where he enters the cruise phase of his run and programs some chill electronica. For Lindsay, running is a challenge. Although she doesn’t particularly like the running part, she likes overcoming the pain. Likewise, Rob Potter runs to stay fit. While the styles and reasons may differ, all enjoy the camaraderie that the team provides.

While running provides Team Telecom with an opportunity to hang out, exercise, and have fun, they also run for a purpose.  Each race has an entrance fee which is donated to support various causes. Team Telecomm has aided breast cancer research, raised awareness about violence and assault, and supported organizations like Habitat for Humanity.

During the spring and fall races occur almost every weekend. For those interested in running you can visit the Team Telecom’s Facebook page, or contact one of members.

Team Telecom members: Matt Falk, Nicky Lewis, Lindsay Ems, Betsi Grabe, Mark Deuze, Mark Bell, Sean Connolly, Reed Nelson, Teresa Lynch, Rob Potter, Tamera Theodore, Shannon Schenck, Susan Kelly

Telecom PhD Workshop:  Seeking Dissertation Fellowships and Other Funding as a Graduate Studentby Ken Rosenberg

Professors Rob Potter, Andrew Weaver, and Harmeet Sawhney shared insights into dissertation fellowships and other funding opportunities in the “sausage making” mode.  The evening was broken into following three sessions (1) Dissertation Year Research Fellowships and Future Faculty Teaching Fellowships, (2) Travel Grants and Doctoral Workshops, and (3) Teaching Awards and Fellowships.  The students were given copies of three winning proposals. The faculty and students worked through one of the winning proposals in the sausage-making mode starting with the first draft, going through the comments and revisions cycle, and ending with the final proposal.  The workshop participants also saw the video component of Mark’s teaching portfolio that got him to be IU’s nominee for Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools’ (MAGS) 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award.

Younei Soe’s Dissertation Award, by Ken Rosenberg

Younei Soe, who defended her dissertation last year, recently received the Herbert S. Dordick Dissertation Award from the International Communication Association. In his nomination letter, Erik Bucy, Younei’s advisor, characterized her dissertation as “an absolutely first-rate piece of original research” that “sheds considerable new light on the civic consequences of new media use.” It all began with a moment that is familiar to scholars, the time when your current professor of interest asks you that innocent-yet-hopelessly-complex question: what interests you?

‘I’m interested in democracy,” said Younei, years ago. Back then, she had no idea how to make an original theoretical contribution on that front. From there, she began to establish herself in the academic community, doing research to forward the cause of democratic citizen education. Now, she has offered her own contribution, which Busy believes “will be embraced by researchers in the area of information technology and civic learning when they are introduced to the literature.” Future students may very well find her work to be required reading.

Like many politically-minded media scholars before her, she wanted to know how young adults use new media to understand political information and public affairs. If news and other politically-focused media are key for maintaining a healthy democracy, then it is necessary to analyze how people use media and how it impacts their knowledge and efficacy.

There are many studies that measure media usage, but her goal was to find a link between usage and proficiency and, for that, it was necessary to do more than survey people. For two years, she collected data from students of media and political science—individuals already encouraged and equipped to discuss these sorts of issues—in the form of surveys, focus groups, and in-depth interviews. For another two semesters, she did nothing but interview people. She showed clips of politicians; she tested people’s knowledge of politics and media institutions. With over 200 participants and more than 30 focus group sessions, the task of transcribing was onerous. To handle the epic workload, she did what most academics prefer: she hired undergrads to transcribe. Even with a team, it still took several months to complete the transcriptions. It was always important to make sure the data was processed properly but, since Younei intends to make everything publicly available in a collected dataset, consistency and formatting became even more important.

Most important, though, is Younei’s ability to express her findings with precision and clarity. She borrowed some terms and created others. Participants were ranked either high or low in “public affairs sophistication,” a multivariate concept encompassing political interest, media use, media knowledge, and political knowledge. “Media knowledge” is in particular an interesting concept as it does not concern the information that people get from the news but, rather, the awareness people have about news-reporting organizations. An example question: “How is The New York Times different from other newspapers?” The concept of political knowledge is a bit more straightforward—in theory, anyway—as it involved simple questions of fact, like “Who is the leader of Russia?” However, answers to questions of this nature were just as variable as any other. “It was amazing to see how people responded,” Younei said. Another important concept Younei developed is “public affairs efficacy,” a combination of political self-efficacy (“My vote matters in the election.”) and political information efficacy, the latter of which is a measure of one’s confidence in knowledge about politics. Humorously, males scored high in efficacy, but women scored higher in actual knowledge.

To receive the award, Younei will fly to Arizona and attend ICA’s Communication and Technology Division business meeting. This will be her first time back in ten years to Arizona, where she completed her first program of master’s studies. “I’ll be very happy to see my dorms,” she said.

As for the future, Younei wants to pass on what she has learned in her area of interest—and she will get her chance sooner rather than later. Starting in June (in the Summer II session), she will be teaching S542: International Information Issues in the School of Library and Information Science as an adjunct faculty member. The course is structured around three main themes: everyday civic life, systems of access and use, and culture and institution. Younei would like to thank the professors who helped her in crafting the syllabus. She would also like to remind everyone that her class has no pre-requisites and is currently open for registration. So, if you would like to know more about the relationships between individuals, media, and society in terms of politics and civic life, go ahead and sign up!

Ron Osgood’s Presentation, by Harmeet Sawhney

Last Friday Ron Osgood presented “The Vietnam War/American War: Stories from All Sides” in the Institute for Digital Arts & Humanities (IDAH) seminar series.  This was Ron’s third and final presentation for the two year IDAH fellowship he had received to work on an interactive documentary on the Vietnam War.

Ron has collected a treasure trove of materials (photos, slides, film, maps, documents, and interview transcripts, among others) through his interviews with 40 American, 35 North Vietnamese, and 2 South Vietnamese veterans.  His project has also benefited from unexpected gifts from people inspired by his previous work on the Vietnam War.  For instance, after seeing Ron’s Vietnam War documentary on WTIU, one of viewers established contact with Ron via WTIU because he wished to gift his personal collection of 2500+ slides and over 8 hours of film he had created while serving in Vietnam as a doctor.  Ron was amazed to learn that all this material has never been publicly shown before.

Ron’s challenge is to present this material in such a way that is accessible to a wide range of people.  In particular Ron took great care in his choice of terms.  They had to resonate with the sensibilities of the veterans and at the same time be understood by undergraduates.  He is now working on modalities and sensibilities that would be inviting for veterans to share their stories and materials on the website.

You can access the site in the current testing state at  vietnamwarstories.org

Once the interface is functional and data has been fully entered Ron plans to modify the project as an iPad app.  He will be proposing a T575: Directed Group New Media Design Project for fall for graduate students interested in this type of development work.  The project will provide opportunities for gaining experience with researching content, design, and programming.  Please contact Ron (osgoodr@indiana.edu) if you would like to take this T575 with him.

Random Distnguished Comment of the Week

I (Rob Potter) was walking down the atrium hallway the other morning. Classes were in session and so the hall was empty except for two students looking at the faculty images in the display case. One of them was standing on tip-toe to look up very closely at one of the pictures.

The other said, “Distinguished Professor … wonder what that means?”

“Apparently,” says the one on tip-toe, “it means you don’t want your picture taken …”

Brown Bag

Media Accountability and Transparency in Europe: First Results from a Comparative Study

Huub Evers (Presenter), David Boeyink (Discussant)

Professor Evers spoke about MediaACT: a comparative study in 14 countries featuring analyses of the status quo of media self-regulation and media accountability in Europe (in comparison with exemplary Arab states), analysis of innovative media accountability instruments online, and a representative survey of journalists’ attitudes towards media accountability.


Huub Evers is full Professor of Media Ethics and Intercultural Journalism at Fontys University’s School of Journalism in Tilburg, the Netherlands, and a freelance media ethics researcher and consultant. He gained his PhD in Communication Sciences from the University of Amsterdam. His thesis “Journalism and ethics” dealt with the verdicts of the Dutch Press Council. He is the author of several books and articles on media and communication ethics, intercultural journalism and intercultural competences for journalists and broadcasters.

David Boeyink is Associate Professor Emeritus of IU’s School of Journalism, and a recipient of numerous awards for his teaching and research, including the Frederic Herman Lieber Distinguished Teaching Award, the Gretchen Kemp award, and the Brown Derby Teaching Award. Professor Boeyink’s research focuses mainly on ethics and ethical decision making in journalism. Boeyink is currently finishing a research project that will explore ways journalism students think about objectivity and the effect journalism classes have on their conception of objectivity.

The audio file from last Friday’s seminar can be found here: Brown Bag (April 13, 2012 – Evers and Boeyink)

Andrew and Ted at DePauw, Beerfest 2011, Sports and Media Brown Bag

Andrew and Ted at DePauw

Professor Andrew Weaver had an opportunity to return to his alma mater DePauw University this week, just an hour or so up State Route 231.  DePauw University is a small liberal arts college located in the town of Greencastle, Indiana.  Along with doctoral student Nicky Lewis, he made a research presentation at the Ethical Inquiry through Video Game Play and Design Conference.  Andrew was also asked by a former professor, Jeff McCall, to give a guest lecture for his Media and Society course.  His lecture on the appeal of violence in media and the impact of racial casting in selective exposure was well received by the students in attendance.  The guest lecture took place in the very same building where Andrew used to put in time at the student radio and TV stations.

Andrew noted several changes on the DePauw campus since his last visit.  After acquiring a nature park approximately a quarter mile from campus, DePauw constructed several new facilities – one being the Bartlett Reflection Center, a place for meditation and relaxation, and the Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics, where the conference took place.  The nature park also features an amphitheater, quarry research area, and campground.  According to Andrew, “It’s fun to see the changes the campus has gone through since I was a student, so it’s nice to be able to come back every few years.”

Fellow faculty member Ted Castronova was also invited to the conference as a key note speaker.  He presented his thoughts on natural laws, suggesting that they exist prior to society.  With regard to the implications that games have for ethical inquiry, he offered the idea that fantasies and dreams should be thought of as the “real” reality and that games serve as a reflection of that reality.  Citing a priest that recently visited his church, he said “We are not made for this earth.  We are made for the next.”  Ted posited that perhaps fantasy is not a forecast of paradise, but a memory.

Beerfest 2011

For a majority of beer drinkers, beer begins and ends with the big three, Budweiser, Miller, and Coors. Their commercials dominate television, their products monopolize most bar and restaurant taps, and together they control over 90% of the American beer market. However, a small but growing contingent is turning towards craft beer for new tastes and styles. At the 19th annual Beerfest, sponsored by Big Red Liquors, a wealth of beers were available for beer aficionados to try.

The three hour sessions on both Thursday and Friday night featured over 330 beers from all around the world with all proceeds going to local charities.  Armed with a tasting glass provided at the entrance, participants walk around to the various tables sponsored by breweries and beer distributors, sampling beers while picking up stickers, coasters, bottle openers, and occasional T-shirts along the way.

PhD students and Beerfest veterans Travis Ross and Ryland Sherman attended on Friday night. Sherman, who enjoys craft beer, but is often deterred by its high price, enjoys the festival because he gets to try all the beers he would never try on his own. With so many offerings though, a little bit of strategy is required. Sherman decided to focus on the most exotic beers he could find. Ross expressed similar sentiments, as he normally heads to the back corner first, where the more unique offerings can be found.  However, acknowledges Ross, after an hour strategy starts to fall apart.  A ruined palette from all the flavors and the inevitable effect of 20 or so little samples turns the focus from drinking and critiquing to drinking and socializing.

Ross acknowledges a dual tension between sampling and socializing. Accompanied by his wife and brother this year, Beerfest was a great opportunity to show his little brother, an IUPUI student, a good time in Bloomington. Sherman, who went with a group of friends enjoys running into people from around Bloomington and chatting over beers.

According to Ross and Sherman, this year’s Beerfest was a bit more low key than previous years. Perhaps due to the increase in ticket price, crowds were lighter and less rowdy, meaning less waiting and more sampling.

A few highlights from this years beerfest:

Mike’s favorites
Cutters  Empire Imperial Stout – Whoa. Hands down one of the best stouts I’ve ever had.  This is Bloomington’s new big boy beer from the 2010 upstarts. Look out Upland. This blows your entire lineup out of the water.
Four Horsemen  Irish Red – Goes down like a traditional Irish red, but the creamy butter aftertaste adds a unique twist.
Southern Tier Unearthly – Breaks the traditional double IPA mold. Hop profile takes a backseat to the lush floral and citrus notes. Very complex. Nice biscuit malty on the back end. Best (and most unusual) double IPA of the day
New Holland Chartooka Rye – Tastes just like Carolina smoked pork. Seriously.
Sam Adams Maple Pecan Porter –A brief reminder from Sam Adams on why they are the biggest microbrew in the country. Sweet and syrupy. Pecan Pie in a bottle. Absolutely Delicious.

Travis’s Favorites
Cutters Floyd’s Folly
Sun King  Cream Ale
Goose Island – Pepe Nero
Wychwood – Hobgoblin

Ryland’s favorites
Veldensteiner Weiβbier
Sun King – Double IPA

Brown Bag 

This week’s brown bag presentation featured a split-session with two graduate students with research interests in sports and media.  Nicky Lewis is a first year Ph.D. student in the Department of Telecommunications and Evan Frederick is a third year Ph.D. student in Sports Marketing at the Department of Kinesiology.  You can listen to the full audio of their presentation here: Sport and Media Brown Bag

Trait and Motivational Differences in Fantasy Football Participation

Nicky Lewis

This thesis explores the trait and motivational differences that exist among fantasy football participants.  Analysis of the relationships between theoretically relevant trait and motivational variables allowed for predictions of time invested in the activity.  Accordingly, a meaningful model of participation was developed.  Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Demographics and Usage Trends of the Typical MMA Blog User: A Case Study

Evan Frederick

For this case study, an Internet-based survey was posted on a popular Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) blog in order to ascertain the demographics and usage trends of its users.  Data analysis revealed that users were predominately White males, between the ages of 23-39, with some college education and an annual income of $40,000-$59,999. An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) revealed six dimensions of gratification including evaluation, community, information-gathering, knowledge demonstration, argumentation, and diversion.  Findings indicated that users utilized this particular blog for both interactive and information-gathering purposes.


Nicky Lewis: Andrew and Ted at DePauw, Brown Bag

Mike Lang: Beerfest 2011

Nicole Martins’ Toys, Ryan Newman’s Music Videos, Siya’s Knowledge Ball, and Andrew Weaver is the New Fresh Prince

Objects in Faculty Offices, Segment 6: Nicole Martins’ Educational Toys

Professor Nicole Martins doesn’t just use the toys in her office for fun and games.  For a researcher who studies issues related to children and media, her educational toys serve a greater purpose in both research and class discussions. Earlier this week, she took some time to talk about several of the ones she keeps in her office.  On the one hand, Nicole cautioned about the emergence of toys that encourage parents to register their information online, which can have many repercussions.  Among other things, they can facilitate advertising and marketing campaigns aimed directly at their children.  On the other, she highlighted the effectiveness of programs like Sesame Street, which utilize feedback from parents, children, and researchers to improve the learning and cognition capabilities of children who watch.

Nicole’s research was most recently cited in a New York Times article titled, The Playground Gets Even Tougher, on Sunday, October 10th.  The article describes the issues surrounding mean-girl bullying, which is receiving national media attention due in part to the recent occurrence of suicides among children at the grade school level.  Go to the full article here: The Playground Gets Even Tougher

See Nicole discuss the deeper purposes behind two toys in her office: the seemingly harmless Scout and the lovable favorite, Elmo:

Ryan Newman’s Music Videos

This fall former IU undergraduate Ryan Newman returned to the Telecom Department to pursue an MS degree. In his time away from the Radio-TV building, Ryan wasn’t working on an entry-level job somewhere or sitting in an office wearing a suit – he was in Nashville, Tennessee, directing and producing music videos. “When I was a wee sophomore, I started my own video production company as a side project outside of classes,” Ryan says, “and they signed me based on those videos.”

Ryan spent his first months in Nashville as a production assistant until he convinced the company he was working for to let him take on bigger jobs. For his first video, Ryan had to build a miniature set of a theater stage from scratch, learning as he went along. Eventually, towards the end of his time in Nashville, Ryan landed a job as the director for a Patty Loveless Video.

Shortly after that, Ryan signed on with AOL’s Studio Now, where he began working on commercials for publishers and other media companies. “Right now I’m working on a series of what will be 24 Sprint commercials,” Ryan adds. He has hired a producer to help with the production of these commercials. In addition to this work, Ryan flies out to film a major SEC football game every other weekend for their conference’s Tailgate Show. “I fly out to shoot content, then I edit it overnight for the morning,” Ryan says. “It’s great fun.”

The whole goal of this, says Ryan, is to work towards raising the funds necessary to produce a stop motion film. “It is about a little boy striking up a conversation with a giant turtle and how it all goes wrong,” Ryan says. He also plans on recording a 5 song EP that will become the soundtrack for the film. “I’m using my connections from my Nashville days,” Ryan says, hoping to work the songs into further promotion for the finished film.

For now, Ryan is focusing on getting his stop motion film off the ground. “I guess I came back to do this,” Ryan says. “I like the flexibility this program offers. I feel like I can accomplish a lot an not be bogged down by too many prerequisites.”

To view more of Ryan’s work, check out his Vimeo page here.

Siya’s Knowledge Ball

Since arriving at IU in the fall of 2009, MS student and Ford Foundation Fellow Siyabonga Africa’s had journalism on his mind. Hailing from South Africa, Siya previously worked as a journalist and freelancer in Johannesburg and the Western Cape before coming to Bloomington.  His prior work in the industry brought him to the Indiana Daily Student this semester.

Part of Siya’s interest in journalism lies in the contrast between newspapers at his colleges in South Africa and what he’s observed in the newsroom at IDS. “Here, I’ve noticed there’s more emphasis on community news, and they publish more frequently than the newsrooms at the universities in South Africa,” he says.

Specifically, Siya wants to keep thinking about where journalism is headed and how new media will play a role in reshaping the industry. “It’s a mind-bending school of thought,” he says. “For example, Twitter is going to change journalism – but how?” From his perspective, the answer may lie in the way Twitter can call on everyone to create the news pulse. “It’s a kind of knowledge ball,” he says. “We can share ideas, and from these ideas comes a tangible project.”

At present, Siya is wondering what the changing journalism landscape will mean for his future. “Chances are, when I go back to South Africa, I’m not going to be a ‘journalist,'” he says. “It’s not so much the position of journalism. We should be teaching the identity of the journalist,” he points out, crediting Mark Deuze for first planting that idea in his head.

Siya, who hopes to one day move back to the Western Cape, is currently working on a web content analysis of news aggregation. Before he returns home, Siya wants to find internships in the States, and he’s spent some time traveling to New York and other east coast locales as well as Chicago. “It’s all about immersing yourself in the culture while you’re here,” he says.

For more of Siya’s thoughts on journalism and new media, check out his website here. You can also catch up on Siya’s daily happenings via Twitter: siyafrica

Andrew Weaver’s Brown Bag Presentation

This week Professor Andrew Weaver’s brown bag presentation on the racial makeup of film casts inspired a lot of feedback from the audience.  Having completed three studies on this topic, he is in the process of designing the fourth and welcomed input from those in attendance.

The Fresh Prince Conundrum: How and why the racial makeup of a cast influences selective exposure to movies

Abstract: Several movie producers have recently spoken of a perceived “tipping point” in the racial casting of movies.  The fear is that if the number of minority actors in a film goes over a certain mark, then the White audience will be driven away.  Thus, producers often consciously avoid casting minorities in supposedly race-neutral roles in order to maximize their prospective audience.  In this talk I will present a program of research designed to examine how and why the racial makeup of a cast could influence White audiences’ selective exposure to movies.  Using social identity theory as a framework, these studies demonstrate the actors’ race does influence selective exposure in certain contexts, primarily by affecting viewers’ perceived identification with the characters and perceived relevance of the film.  I will discuss what these findings mean both for current casting practices in Hollywood and for our understanding of the psychology of race and person perception.  We will also consider other questions that future studies in this line of research could address.

See the highlights here:


Katie Birge:  Ryan Newman’s Music Videos and Siya’s Knowledge Ball

Nicky Lewis:  Nicole Martins’ Educational Toys and Brown Bag