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Cronkite Undergraduate Research Fellows program

The Cronkite School is launching an exciting new initiative to expose our top undergraduates to scholarly research while providing the opportunity to work one-on-one with Cronkite professors on their cutting-edge research.

Participating students will learn about scholarly research and receive a stipend — $1,875 for 10 weeks at on average 10-15 hours each week.

To find out more about the inaugural Cronkite Undergraduate Research Fellows program, attend an information session with Assistant Dean Bill Silcock and participating faculty members on Wednesday, Nov. 20, from 4-5 p.m. in Cronkite 202.

Apply now

The deadline is Dec. 1, 2019, and the program will begin at the beginning of the spring semester.

Download the application form.

After you have filled it out, email the form to bsilcock@asu.edu.

Research topics

Research topics will include social media in youth-led climate change communications campaigns, new strategies in primetime TV programming, the media empire created by the NRA, examining Facebook’s role in social movements, how the use of color plays a role in social media, the history of the TV news stand-up, and the impact of local news in Phoenix on democracy.

Faculty

Bill Silcock

Bill Silcock

Assistant Dean for Research and International Programs, Humphrey Program Curator, Director of Cronkite Global Initiatives

Marianne Barrett

Marianne Barrett

Louise Solheim Professor

Dawn Gilpin

Dawn Gilpin

Associate Professor

Ali Hussain

Ali Hussain

Assistant Professor

K. Hazel Kwon

K. Hazel Kwon

Associate Professor

Jake Nelson

Jake Nelson

Assistant Professor

Leslie-Jean Thornton

Leslie-Jean Thornton

Associate Professor

Faculty research topic areas

Marianne Barrett

As I continue my research on television audience behavior in the 21st century I would like to involve an undergraduate student in a project that looks at “stunting” as a programming tactic. Stunting refers to the practice of moving shows around or ordering special episodes of popular series in an effort to boost ratings.

I am planning on submitting a paper to the 2020 World Media Economics and Management Conference.

Why this is important:

Although 69 percent of U.S. TV households now subscribe to at least one streaming service, in 2018 U.S. adults 18+ still spent nearly four and a half hours a day watching live television (Nielsen, 2018) and despite falling ratings, “the major broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the CW” sold an estimated $9.1 billion to $10.06 billion of prime time advertising inventory in the 2018 upfront market. Figuring out what programming strategies are effective will help us better understand some of the factors that impact audience behavior and enable television programmers to make the best use of a limited resource.

At the end of the 10 weeks the student will:

  • Have gained experience with researching and synthesizing information and writing a literature review.
  • Become familiar with the use of Excel and SPSS to organize and analyze data.
  • Enhance her/his critical thinking skills by collaborating with the researcher on the “so what?” sections of the paper.

Key tasks and assignments over the 10-week period:

  • Assist with updating the literature review to include relevant academic, trade and popular press articles that have been published since 2010.
  • Assist with data input and analysis.
  • Collaborate on the findings and discussion sections of the paper.

The student would receive co-author credit.

Dawn Gilpin

I am working on a book project about NRA media. A lot has been written about the organization as a powerful gun lobby and social movement for Second Amendment enthusiasts, but little attention has been paid to its extensive media operations.

Why this is important:

This book is a first step toward filling that void and using the NRA as an example of the complex role of strategically developed owned media operations.

At the end of the 10 weeks the student will:

  • Learn how to organize archived social media data.
  • Learn how to prepare data for network analysis.
  • Identify actors (nodes) and connections between them (ties) within a larger network.
  • Grasp basic network concepts that indicate influence, and various types of centrality and brokerage roles.
  • Understand how to interpret the meaning of network data and consider the broader implications.

Key tasks and assignments over the 10-week period:

  • Organize archived Twitter and Facebook data, sorted by category, account and time frame.
  • Prepare data for network analysis. This involves creating a series of spreadsheets in specific formats so they can be read by the analysis software.
  • Review analyses together and discuss interpretations.
Ali Hussain

My research is about social media engagement. I need help from an undergrad student to study the engagement of young people on social media in the context of recent climate protests.

Why it is important:

The study is important because it explores the beliefs and attitudes of Generation Z toward prosocial behaviors such as climate change. The project will examine the changing dynamics of social movements led by younger audiences on social media.

At the end of the 10 weeks the student will:

  • Review and compile scientific literature.
  • Design theory-based communication campaigns.
  • Become familiar with the use of SPSS (quantitative) and NVivo (qualitative) for data analysis.
  • Conduct social media sentiment analysis.

Key tasks and assignments over the 10-week period:

  • Conduct a mixed-methods content analysis. This includes an analysis of large volumes of data including social media conversations on Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit, and a comparative analysis of media coverage in top-ranking newspapers.
  • Specific tasks include:
    • Literature review/online search
    • Learn data analysis and coding
    • Write results/discussion

The study is expected to produce at least one journal article and one conference publication at BEA, or NCA.

Hazel Kwon

This project seeks to understand how protest-related news and information are spread on Facebook. The project will examine nationwide news diffusion patterns during the 2018 March for Our Lives movement, including both legitimate and fake news.

Why This is Important:

Social movements have defined themselves as integral parts of participatory democracy, and Facebook has been underscored as a catalyst of contemporary social movements. That said, few data-driven research projects on this topic has been conducted due to lack of access to Facebook’s proprietary data. This project offers a rare research opportunity as it is sponsored by Social Science One (in partnership with Facebook), which provides the research team with exclusive access to Facebook data.

At the end of the 10 weeks the student will:

  • Have experience in using Facebook-sponsored datasets (URL share data, including fake news) for academic research.
  • Have gained knowledge on how Facebook news about social movement (i.e., March for Our Lives) diffused differently across states and demographics.
  • Become familiar with the scholarly research process.
  • Have learned about research methods (e.g., content analysis).

Key tasks and assignments over the 10-week period:

  • Gain access to Facebook URL share data that typically is unavailable to the public.
  • Assist with content analysis of news titles.
  • Use Excel and SPSS for basic data analysis.
  • Visualize a map by news diffusion rates.
Jake Nelson

Phoenix is one of the largest and fastest growing cities in the country. Yet, its local news landscape has not grown alongside its population. This project seeks to understand how those involved in civic engagement within the city mobilize the public when the traditional route – working with local journalists – is no longer as viable as it once was.

Why it is important:

This project will shed light on the relationship between Phoenix's most civically engaged citizens and the local journalists tasked with covering them. In doing so, it will provide a greater understanding on what the cuts in local news mean for the city’s political participation.

At the end of the 10 weeks the student will:

  • Know how to identify interview subjects (local politicians, activists, journalists, etc.)
  • Know how to put together interview questions.
  • Know how to conduct a research interview, and analyze interview transcripts.

Because we're heading into an election year, it'll be important to move quickly with this.

Key tasks and assignments over the 10-week period:

  • Create a directory of Phoenix's politicians, activists, local journalists, and anyone else who we determine to be among the city’s most civically engaged.
  • Help assemble different sets of interview questions to ask the people within each of these groups.
  • Help reach out to these people.
  • Help conduct interviews.

Leslie-Jean Thornton

This is for a book project about how images related to newsworthy events are used in social ways, particularly on social media.

Why it is important:

Social media and news are global, but little attention is paid to cultural influences on how news and social messages reflect those influences in both creation and reception. Even less attention is paid to visual aspects, but research shows that images are key to engagement, interpretation, and retention of information. This study focuses on colors and their multiple meanings within diverse cultural perspectives and histories.

At the end of the 10 weeks the student will:

  • Know research techniques, including literature search and review, annotation, and note-taking.
  • Learn how to locate and archive social media and news images.
  • Learn how to detect and develop themes as part of a research agenda.
  • Have a nuanced and deep knowledge of color and how it is used through history and the present.
  • How to use online collaborative tools such as Google Docs and Dropbox.

Key tasks and assignments over the 10-week period:

  • One or more students will each be assigned a color and some prelimary readings related to color history and associations. Weekly assignments include:
  • Addressing a particular culture’s associations with an assigned color.
  • Identifying similarities and differences through discussion with me and, if there’s more than one student, colleagues.
  • Building an annotated reference list in stages.
  • Locating social media images that illustrate concepts uncovered in the research.
  • Properly documenting the images for future study.
Bill Silcock

Following up on my last article about Walter Cronkite’s final broadcast – “The Swan Songs of the Anchomen” – I want to research the history of the TV news standup.

Why it is important:

The standup or “piece to camera” as the BBC says has become globally recognized as the on-air byline of a TV reporter. Promoted by TV news consulants, the history of the stand-up goes back to the early days of 1950s television. Their evolution from film to video tape to “live shots” and now to Facebook and other social media platforms merits a historical review.

At the end of the 10 weeks the student will:

  • Have gained experience with researching and synthesizing information from books, journals and articles into a cohesive, written literature review.
  • Learn how to find, select, locate, seet-up and record oral history interviews.
  • Learn the difference between a journalistic interview and an “open ended” oral history interview.
  • Enhance her/his critical thinking skills by collaborating with the researcher on the “so what?” sections of the paper.

Key tasks and assignments over the 10-week period:

  • The research fellow would help do a literature review to find out academic articles, books, and media press.
  • Next identify oral interviews and prepare questions with TV news consultants such as like Al Primo, Magid, etc.
  • Conduct an oral history.
  • Create an interview transcription.
  • Move into the actually drafting of the various sections of the paper.