Undergrads to present findings on the portrayal of various groups in the media

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Six undergraduate students from the College of Communications will present their findings about media coverage and portrayals of women and under-represented communities on national network news at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference Aug. 8 to 11 in Washington, D.C.

This is the first time in the history of the conference that a group as large as six undergraduates from the same institution has been selected to share its research, according to Jennifer McGill, AEJMC’s executive director. John Sanchez, an associate professor in the Department of Journalism, served as a mentor for the group and he’s pleased with the opportunity the students have earned.

“I don’t give a pat on the back to people much. I expect students in my class to reach their highest potential,” Sanchez said. “However, these students are different. I am very proud of them, and I do believe they do deserve a pat on the back.”

Students presenting at the conference are:
-- Nicole Colon-Quintana, a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and psychology from Aibonito, Puerto Rico;
-- Cynthia Hill, a senior majoring in broadcast journalism from Pittsburgh;
-- Shantelle Johnson, a junior majoring in broadcast journalism from Effort, Pa.;
-- Jenny Kim, a junior majoring in broadcast journalism from Atlanta;
-- Donghee Lee, a junior majoring in public relations from Seoul, South Korea; and
-- Cheyenne Sexton, a junior majoring in public relations from Elizabethtown, Pa.

The research, conducted in January, examined coverage of women and under-represented and underserved communities on nightly newscasts produced by ABC, CBS and NBC. Each student focused on the portrayal of a different group of people, and they examined similarities and provided conclusions for their work.

Colon-Quintana, who focused on Latinos in the news media, is grateful for the opportunity to present her findings. “I am very appreciative of the opportunities I have been given by both professor Sanchez and the College of Communications,” she said. “Presenting at this conference gives a closure to my time as an undergraduate by encompassing everything I have learned and everything I am passionate about. At the same time, it opens the door for new, exciting opportunities.”

Hill evaluated the portrayal of African-American males. She’s excited about the work, and the opportunity to meet other communications researchers at the conference. “I think presenting at the conference will at least give me some contacts with those working and teaching in the communications industry,” she said.

Johnson focused her research on women in the media. She anticipates sharing the findings as a way to bring attention to what she found. “I am most excited about getting people to think about the inequality women face in today’s society,” Johnson said. “Many people ignore it, or push it under the rug, however I hope that my research will get people to be more conscious, and in turn perhaps find a way to stop the inequality.”

Kim, who focused on portrayals of Asians, is hoping for opportunities to come from the AEJMC presentation. “I think AEJMC will open up more doors for me. I already know I’ll grow so much both academically and personally just from participating in the conference,” she said. “However, I also hope it will open up possible opportunities for grad school.”

Lee focused on the elderly for the research and she’s excited to be presenting at the conference.“I also feel some pressure to do well because I don’t want to let anyone else down,” she said.

Sexton will be presenting on the portrayal of children in the media. Like the others, she anticipates the opportunities that might arise from presenting at the conference. “Showing that I have conducted in-depth research and then presented professionally is such a big accomplishment,” she said. “It’s something not many undergraduates can say they have done. I also hope that some possible education and career opportunities present themselves to me at the conference.”

The AEJMC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the highest possible standards for journalism and mass communication education, to cultivate the widest possible range of communication research, to encourage the implementation of a multicultural society in the classroom and curriculum, and to defend and maintain freedom of communication in an effort to achieve better professional practice and a better informed public.

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Last Updated August 20, 2013