Writing in Communications

“Journal Overview and Citation Practices”

Number of words: 4,300. Number of Citations: 13.

The research journal I chose to analyze is the Elon Journal of Undergrad Research in Communications. After looking through the latest issue of the journal, I found that a variety of topics were addressed, including women in the media, various influences in the media, and politics such as debates and election television advertisements.

The article I chose to analyze is Women in TV Broadcast News: Reporters and Sources in Hard News Stories by Mariah Irvin. This article researched three primetime news broadcasts in the two weeks leading up to the 2012 Presidential Election and analyzed whether males or females reported on the hard news stories. Additionally, the research analyzed whether males or females were the sources in these stories.

“Women have been fairly successful in breaking into the news business. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, only 13% of reporters were women, whereas today about half of reporters are women. However, women are still far from equality as they face professional barriers of appearance and age. One study found that although female reporters presenting news stories were perceived as being more credible than male reporters presenting similar stories, male reporters were seen as being more credible persons overall. However, the gender of the news viewer also has to be considered; generally, recipients find reporters of his or her same gender to be credible. Another noticeable finding from this study was that although young reporters’ credibility was not influenced by age, the older, male reporters were considered to be the most credible reporters (Weibel, Wissmath, & Groner, 2008). Other research found that age impacts the length of news segments: younger women are often in shorter news segments than other, more experienced female journalists. When comparing older women reporters to males in the same age range, one can see the trend that men are able to have longer careers because women become “too old, too unattractive … not sufficiently deferential to men” (Armstrong, 2010, p. 83)”

The first sentence of this paragraph provides evidence to state that women have had a fair amount of success in the news reporting business. The author then counters this information by writing that there is still inequality between men in women in broadcast television. In the third sentence, a study is introduced that found that viewers found women reporters to be more credible than male reporters. In the following sentence the author diminishes this evidence by saying that “generally, recipients find reporters of his or her same gender to be credible," (Irvin, 2013, p. 40). She then initiates another claim by providing readers with another study that compared the age and creditability of reporters. That evidence leads into additional research that found that younger women are given shorter reporter assignments than more experienced women. The paragraph concludes with a statistic that compares trends between male and female reporters of similar age and the typical length of their careers. The author used language that provided readers with evidence to support her claim. At times it seemed as though she disagreed with the findings that didn’t support her claims, which could be confusing to readers.

The author incorporated findings into her research, but she introduced each of her sources in similar ways, such as “one study found,” “other research found,” etc. The paragraph would be more appealing to the reader if the introduction of the sources would be been introduced in a variety of ways. Although the introduction of sources could have been varied, the author seemed knowledgeable in this area and provided appropriate citation which gave the article a scholarly impression.

My paper currently has seven citations, six less than the paper I analyzed. In order for my article to become publication-ready I will have to conduct more secondary research, such as the journal articles. These articles will help build a framework for my paper and expand my literature review. The articles in my paper will also help with my primary research.

“Definition Practices”

The second article from the Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications that I analyzed was “The Portrayal of the American Legal System in Prime Time Television Crime Dramas” by Samantha Parker. Parker researched how the legal system is portrayed on prime time television shows by using content analysis when viewing four crime drama shows.

Several parts of the article were vague, resulting in few definitions. Parker stated that there has been little research conducted in the area, making the literature review rather short. An example of definition was used when describing the “CSI Effect.” Parker first introduced the term and then provided definition from other sources by stating, “this phrase is used to define the impact crime dramas, such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, have on jurors’ decision-making processes” (Parker, 2013, p. 109). The source is provided in a footnote instead of an in-text citation and the name of the source is never introduced.

The majority of the article focuses on the CSI Effect and it continues to be clearly defined throughout the article. Although Parker visibly defines the term, she doesn’t attribute much of the definition to other researchers. Instead, she uses prior research to demonstrate the CSI Effect without providing further definition. The lack of definition suggests that Parker assumes that the reader understands the meaning and concepts, but the concepts are not prestige abstractions.

“Style of Dense Passages”

Article: Chirping for Charity: How U.S. Nonprofit Organizations are Using Twitter to Foster Dialogic Communication by Carolyn Baumgarten.

Passage One: “Meeting these principles requires recognition of an inextricable link between two bodies, and a mutual understanding of communication’s purpose. Dialogue is not to be considered a means to an end; rather it is about collaboration and immediacy” (p. 6)

Rewrite: “Meeting these principles requires acknowledgment of a complex link between two people or organizations, and a common understanding of communication’s purpose. Dialogue is about collaboration and proximity.”

Passage Two: “Because a conversational tone is more human, and therefore more relatable than formal messages conveyed through traditional media, blogs and other social media that encourage a colloquial tone are becoming increasingly prevalent methods of communication” (p. 7).

Rewrite: “Conversational tone is a more relatable form or communication than formal messages. This informal tone is becoming the predominate method of communication in traditional media, blogs and social media.”

Passage Three: “Inherent in dialogic communication are skills from all parties including listening, contextualization of issues, finding common ground and consideration of long-term goals” (p. 6).

Rewrite: “Characteristics of conversational communication are skills that are well known including listening, the understanding of various issues, finding common ground, and considering long-term goals.”

I thought the passages in this article sounded very knowledgeable and legitimate. Readers who are not familiar with social media can gain knowledge of the terms that are used in the study of communication. Readers who already possess this knowledge may find the writing style to be academically based and sincere, which meets the authors purpose of writing an informational and legitimate article.

“General Academic Style”

The two articles that I choose to analyze were Women in TV Broadcast News: Reporters and Sources in Hard News Stories by Mariah Irvin and Assessing Network TV Ad Watches in the 2012 Presidential Election by Stephanie Petrich. Irvin’s research article analyzed the prominence of women in hard news stories and found possible correlations to why women are assigned to report softer news. Petrich’s article evaluated the television advertisements throughout the 2012 Presidential Election.

These articles had both similarities and differences. The format of the paper was similar because was setup with an introduction, literature review, methods, findings and conclusion. This is an accepted format in communication research articles. The writing style differed between the articles. Petrich’s article was more straight forward than Irvin’s and focused on presenting the information without adding a lot of personal opinion. I found Irvin’s article more appealing to read because she used a more nominal style of writing. For example, Irvin began her introduction by stating, “Everywhere voters turn, it seems they see political advertisements during an election year. The American electorate are constantly plagued by messages from candidates causing voters to tire of the election long before they go to the polls to cast their ballot” (Irvin, p. 26). This introduction should be very relevant to the reader because everyone was familiar with the many advertisements throughout the Presidential Election.

Petrich used a different approach in her introduction. The first line in the article was a citation which stated, “women journalists initially had difficulty breaking into the broadcast news field and did not begin to make real strides towards equality until the 1960s and 1970s (Hosley & Yamada, 1987)” (Petrich, p. 39). This style of introduction forecasts to the reader that there will be a lot of prior research and literature included in the article. I think Petrich could have drawn readers in more by including an opening sentence before presenting previous literature and a citation.

"Knowledge-Making Cues"

The article I analyzed was Social Media and Politics: Twitter Use in the Second Congressional District of Virginia by Julia Caplan. This article focused on the strategies two Congressional District candidates used through their Twitter accounts. Qualitative data was used throughout the research. Caplan used content analysis to analyze tweets made by the candidates and categorize them.

There were several instances in which the author used agentless expressions in the methods section. For example the author stated, “each tweet was classified into as many classes as was appropriate,” (p. 8) instead of saying “I classified each tweet into as many classes as was appropriate.” The author also referred to herself as the “researcher” several times throughout the research methods section. For example, when explaining the process of gathering the data Caplan stated, “in order to conduct this content analysis, the researcher collected the 200 most recent posts…” (p. 8). I believe using agentless expression would be more appropriate.

I did not find many examples of modal expressions. Caplan was very confident with her statements throughout the article. One example of a modal expression was the explanation of a theory. Caplan stated, “Adaptive Structuration Theory asserts the idea that a social media device can influence an entire social structure and inspire change in behavior” (p. 12). This modal expression explains to readers that the theory will not have a definite influence on social structure, but there is a possibility that it could have that influence.

The following passage is an example of a limiting expression:
“In the last few years, several politicians have integrated Twitter into their campaigns; 577 politicians have opened Twitter accounts, three quarters of them in 2009” (p. 5). Theses limiting expressions that some polititians are utilizing Twitter, but not all of them.

"Introductions and Conclusions"

The article I analyzed was Truth and Context in the 2012 Presidential Debates by Rachel Southmayd. In the introduction Southmayd used many limiting expressions such as stating “many moderators,” “the average viewer,” and “often incorrectly.” The author doesn’t assume that the readers are familiar presidential debates and does a good job explaining the format to the readers and how it is relevant to her article.

Southmayd also used many limiting expressions in the conclusion. The most common limiting expression that was used was “seemed.” Such as, “the candidate seemed to believe…” There were very few parts in the conclusion that were very definite. She also didn’t use modal expressions or suggest that further research could be conducted.

Summary of Good Academic Writing in the Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications

The original paper that I am using for this class is a research paper that attempts to determine whether there is a correlation between fan support for teams in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and the official Twitter accounts for those teams. My paper includes an introduction, literature review, and a methods section. I found this format to be very similar to the papers I analyzed in the Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications.

I believe that good writing in this journal includes writing that acknowledges past research and while leaving room for additional research to be uncovered. Most of the articles I analyzed had good writing. The articles would state claims and evidence throughout the paper and provide examples in the literature review, but the authors would also state the limitations and areas for future research. I think both components are critical for good writing. I have tried to meet those standards by acknowledging prior research throughout my introduction and literature review and I acknowledged the limitations in the methods section of my paper.

Peer Review Questions

1. Which areas need more or less clarification?
2. Does the paper seem well suited for an expert audience?
3. Are there any definitions that need more/less clarification?
4. Does the paper flow and are there clear transitions between sections?
5. I had a difficult time finding relevant research for this paper. Did you find any examples of research that didn’t seem to “fit” in the literature review?
6. In what ways can I incorporate a scholarly conversation in my paper?

Sports Illustrated

My chosen publication venue for Project 2 is Sports Illustrated. Sports Illustrated is a widely read and recognized magazine dedicated to athletics. The target audience has an interest in a wide variety of sports.

The article I analyzed was “NFL embraces new world of Twitter” written by Jim Trotter. This article discusses the impact that Twitter has in the NFL and how both the league and many players are embracing the social media site. The NFL has set up a policy in which players and coaches are not allowed to post on Twitter shortly before and after kickoff in an effort to ensure that the tweets are appropriate. Totter also discusses the amount of followers that several well-known NFL players have and how Twitter will likely continue to rise in popularity. The audience for this article is NFL fans and those who are interested in the impact of social media in athletics. The article seems informational and direct.

Sports Illustrated is a good publication venue for my Project 2 because it focuses on sports, both professional and collegiate. There are also article that focus on many different aspects of sports including social media.


Project 3 Plan

I plan to create a best-practices guide for college athletic departments. This guide will explain how to brand teams and athletics through social media. Within the guide I will also create mock Twitter accounts to demonstrate how these best practices can be utilized. It will be informational, but will also include marketing and public relations features.

The audience will be sports information directors within collegiate athletic departments. They are typically experts in social media, but some are more advanced than others. They are likely to believe in branding their teams and providing accurate and relevant information to fans and members of the media.

I will use content from Project 1 by using information I gathered from the CoSIDA organization and the research that I found when analyzing Twitter accounts from the NCHC. Project 2 will allow me to incorporate a well-known social media situation with the comments that were made about Texas A&M from their quarterback, Johnny Manziel. I will use this content to create credibility for Project 3.

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