Grady professors publish in second edition of textbook aimed at teaching excellence for communicating cross-cultural issues

María E. Len-Ríos, associate dean and public relations professor, recently co-edited and was a co-author in the second edition of “Cross-Cultural Journalism and Strategic Communication: Storytelling and Diversity.” The textbook is also co-edited by Earnest L. Perry, associate dean for graduate studies at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Both editions of the publication along with the hard-back copy of the second edition.

The book is a collaborative project featuring 17 authors, many of whom are former journalists, national thought leaders on diversity and communication professionals, who provide guidance to students and professionals to help them navigate the nuances of diversity in storytelling.

“This book is an answer of what we can talk to our students about when they need to cover difficult stories related to culture, which comes up in the news every day,” Len-Ríos said.

The first edition of the book published in December 2015 with the goal of becoming a resource for students and professionals engaging in writing stories about cross-cultural topics, such as religion, crime, gender, sports, health inequities, age/generation, immigration, international storytelling and social class. The second edition builds on that concept with recent and relevant updates.

“Our culture has changed since we came out with the first edition,” said Len-Ríos. “The culture of journalism and the way it is practiced with changing technology, with changing public attitudes towards journalism, the different relationship journalists have with institutions and power and audiences have all changed the way journalists and communication professionals think about journalism.”

One of the textbook chapters, “Telling—and Erasing—Diverse Stories in Sports Media,” is authored by Welch Suggs, associate professor in journalism and associate director of Grady Sports Media.

“Every issue in society is refracted through sports in some way,” Suggs said. “In fact, sports offers us a platform to discuss some of these issues in a way that may be a little less fraught or a little bit easier to talk about because it is a second reference. We are able to wrestle with it without it being a matter of endangering our personal sense of identity.”

Len-Ríos says the response from students has included some students remarking that they had read the textbook cover to cover. She credits the interest to the accessible narratives used by the chapter authors.

“They write it in a way that draws you in and you become interested to learn what is at the end of the chapter,” Len-Ríos said.

Learn more about the book here.

Len-Ríos named associate dean of Grady College

María E. Len-Ríos (MA ’95), an associate professor of public relations, has been named associate dean of academic affairs at Grady College.

“I’m delighted that Dr. Len-Ríos—a treasured faculty member and a leading scholar on issues of diversity and representation in mass communication—has answered the call to leadership,” Dean Charles Davis said. “She’s a joy to work with, embodying the model of servant leadership so important in upholding the high standards of Grady College.”

Len-Ríos teaches courses in public relations, health communication and cross-cultural journalism. She has served as the interim chair of the Grady College diversity committee for the past year, and in 2016, she co-edited a book, “Cross-Cultural Journalism: Communicating Strategically About Diversity,” with Earnest Perry of the University of Missouri, which they recently discussed at a panel at The Miami Book Fair. Len-Ríos also serves as a 2017-2018 UGA Women’s Leadership Fellow.

“I am very grateful for this honor and look forward to working with Grady College faculty, staff, students and alumni as we continue to build on the successes Grady has achieved as one of the top programs in the state and in the nation,” Len-Ríos said.  “I am proud and honored to be part of the leadership team that will prepare the college to meet the challenges and opportunities facing the roles of journalism and the communications professions in society. ”

Len-Ríos joined the Grady College faculty in 2014. Prior to that, Len-Ríos taught public relations and cross-cultural journalism courses at the Missouri School of Journalism, as well as at the University of Kansas and Georgia Southern University.

Len-Ríos, with colleagues and doctoral students, has earned more than nine top research awards in national and international academic conferences across multiple areas.

In addition to a master’s degree from Grady College, Len-Ríos earned a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota, and a doctorate degree from the University of Missouri.

Len-Ríos is the incoming associate editor of the Journal of Public Relations Research and a member of the editorial boards of Public Relations Review, the International Journal of Strategic Communication, and The Howard Journal of Communications.

Len-Ríos is actively serving in her new role as she prepares to assume the duties from Alison Alexander, senior associate dean for academic affairs, who retires in June 2018.

Growing demand leads Grady College to offer additional online courses for summer semester

Grady College will offer 11 online courses for the 2017 summer semester to keep up with the continued demand from students for such classes.

“Again this year, we increased the number of online course offerings,” said Alison Alexander, senior associate dean for academic affairs for Grady College. “Students can find college-wide and major-specific courses to take during the summer term when they are off campus.”

Many of the courses offered are in high demand during the spring and fall semesters. Online summer courses give students the opportunity to take classes that normally fill up quickly.

Most of the courses will comprise very brief video or slide presentations presenting an introduction to the lesson, then will guide students through readings, web-based tutorials and projects to perform and evaluate on student’s own time.

Projects are the highlight of many of the offerings and the online medium provides a good way to share projects and encourage feedback among students. It is also a better medium for sharing long-form media like television shows in the case of the media and television study classes.

Sabrena Deal, a graphics lecturer who taught the course online last summer, will be leading the online graphics course again this year.

“The ADPR 3520E course will give students the opportunity to earn certifications in the most recent versions of the Adobe Creative Software through the platform,” said Deal. “These certifications translate directly to resumes, portfolios and LinkedIn.”

“We know that the industry is looking for students with these skills and are glad to offer the course to more students through the online offering,” Deal continued.

The courses that will be offered include:

Brand Communication Marketing (ADPR 5990E) —taught by Mark McMullen, this seminar is designed to synthesize and integrate many of the theoretical and practical approaches to the study and application of advertising, public relations, and related communication fields. Emphasis is on critical thinking, analytical processes and acquisition of specialized knowledge pertaining to the seminar topic.

Data Gathering and Visualization (JOUR 5380E) — taught by Bartosz Wojdynski, this course will familiarize students with the conceptual, procedural and technical aspects of telling newsworthy stories through visual depictions of information. Students will practice gathering and processing data, executing basic statistical procedures and creating original explanatory and informational graphics for news.

International Mass Communication (JRLC 5080E) — taught by Andy Kavoori, this course will focus on the mass media of the world — what they are like, how they operate and what impact they have. Philosophies of different systems will be compared, as well as efforts at development or regulation of these systems. Attention will be given to print and electronic media and to international news agencies.

Introduction to New Media (NMIX 2020E) — taught by John Weatherford, this course will explore the economic, technical, social and cultural aspects of media technologies. The course will take a historical perspective, covering three sections: Old New Media, Now New Media and Next New Media. Students will develop a solid working knowledge of the field and know where and how to further their own knowledge outside of the classroom.

Graphic Communications* (ADPR 3520E, this class is currently full) — taught by Sabrena Deal, this course will teach students the skills to design messages for particular audiences and to prepare designs correctly for print, digital and social environments. Students learn to analyze and to use the principles of design, typography, layout, color theory, art and illustration, and copyright law. Adobe Creative software is used to produce a variety of projects for student portfolios.

Multiplatform Story Production (JOUR 4090E) — taught by Ivanka Pjesivac, students enrolled in this course will develop enterprise news stories across platforms. Each student will produce a long-form web story with links and references, a video story (television news package), a photo essay, a radio story, a “back story” (explaining issues with the reporting) and a webcast explaining some aspect of the story in depth.

New Media Productions (NMIX 4110E) — taught by Chris Gerlach, this course will provide a solid foundation of technical skills that students can build upon for the rest of their careers. Students learn how to design and develop web products that function effectively with multiple platforms (desktop computers, cellphones, tablets, etc.) and are introduced to coding with PHP, MYSQL and Jquery.

Public Relations Research (ADPR 3510E) — taught by Michael Cacciatore, this course focuses on design, strategy and implementation of public relations research techniques. Study of research theory, methods and practices within the context of public relations case studies and client work.

Race, Gender, and the Media (JRLC 5400E) — taught by Maria Len-Ríos, this course teaches students about the relationship between men, women, and racial and ethnic minorities in the United States and the media. Course work includes discussions of representations in mass media (television, print media, advertising and film); impact of representations on audiences; inequities in media professions and institutions; and alternative, feminist and minority media.

The Peabody Archive: TV History and Genre (EMST 5990E) — taught by Shira Chess, this seminar is designed to synthesize and integrate many of the theoretical and practical approaches of the study of mass communication, giving opportunity through a variable topics seminar to analyze processes and effects of mass communication and to acquire specialized knowledge of specific mass media modes of presentation and production.

Topics in Sports Media (JRLC 5880E) — taught by Vicki Michaelis, this course will focus on an issue or trend that has become a social concern or transformational force in sports and sports media. Current examples include college sports realignment and related broadcast rights agreements, social media, the impact of sports concussions and sports analytics.

More information about UGA’s online courses can be found on the UGA Summer School website. Registration for summer 2017 is currently open.

Public skepticism would likely greet a new Zika vaccine, study says

As scientists race to create a vaccine for the Zika virus, new research from the University of Georgia suggests almost half of Americans wouldn’t be interested in getting the shot even if public health officials recommended it for them.

Only one in three people in an October 2016 nationally representative survey said they would be willing to get a Zika shot if one were available and recommended. More than two out of five respondents said they would not be interested in getting a Zika vaccine, and another quarter were undecided on the question.

One possible explanation for people’s hesitancy to accept a future Zika vaccine is the newness of the vaccine, said Glen Nowak, the lead researcher and director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication in UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The center focuses on health and risk communication-related research, teaching and service.

“The word ‘new’ in front of a vaccine doesn’t work as well as when you put ‘new’ in front of laundry detergent,” he said. “Many people interpret ‘new’ consumer products as things that are better and improved, and thus worth trying. When you put ‘new’ in front of ‘vaccine,’ people think experimental or that there’s not enough experience with it, and they take a ‘wait and see’ approach.”

Less than a quarter of respondents in the survey said they would trust a new Zika vaccine. Conversely, three out of four people said they trusted in the tetanus shot’s effectiveness, and just slightly under half of Americans trust in the seasonal flu shot to be safe and effective.

Initial reluctance among the public to embrace a new Zika vaccine could pose challenges for vaccine manufacturers and public health officials.

“For things like Zika, Ebola and dengue fever, it would be very helpful to have safe and effective vaccines,” Nowak said. “But there needs to be consumer interest and demand to make vaccine research and development investments worthwhile. It is often not enough to have a recommendation to use a vaccine. Public health officials and health care providers need to educate people about the value and benefits of receiving the vaccine so that people for whom it is recommended actually get it.”

Formulating a recommendation for a mosquito-transmitted disease like Zika would likely be difficult because almost all currently recommended vaccines are for diseases that are primarily transmitted from person to person, Nowak said. Additionally, since the vaccines are still in the early stage of development, scientists don’t yet know how a Zika vaccine would be administered or how many doses people would need.

“It’s not likely that a vaccine for a mosquito-transmitted illness would simply be added to the childhood or adult vaccination schedules,” he said. “Rather, it is more likely such a vaccine would be recommended for people who live in Zika-affected areas or people who travel to such areas. That said, Zika can be transmitted by people to other people and mosquitoes can travel in unpredictable ways.”

The research involved a nationally representative survey data conducted in October. The data comes from the National Opinion Research Center’s AmeriSpeak panel. Collaborators on the research include Michael Cacciatore, an assistant professor of public relations, and Maria Len-Rios, an associate professor of public relations, at UGA.

New survey shows only half of people plan to get flu shots this year

Americans are split on getting an annual flu shot, with four out of 10 having done so in the past year and around half saying they had already received or were planning to get the vaccine this year, according to new national survey data analyzed by University of Georgia researchers.

People across the country grapple with the decision of whether to get a flu shot every year, with many opting not to vaccinate because of the fluctuation in the shot’s effectiveness from one flu season to the next. But their decision has ramifications beyond whether just keeping them healthy, said Glen Nowak, a professor in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and director of Grady’s Center for Health and Risk Communication.

“Your flu vaccination helps protect other people from flu, including both really young and older family members who are more vulnerable to severe illness,” Nowak said. “There’s evidence that the vaccine is often most effective in healthy adults 18 to 49, so by them being vaccinated they not only protect themselves from the flu, but they can help reduce the transmission of flu to others.”

Overall, around half of the survey respondents said they definitely or probably would not get the flu vaccine this year. As of October, less than 10 percent of 30- to 59-year-olds and only 5 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds had received a flu shot, and only 13 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds, 18 percent of 30- to 44-year-olds and 30 percent of 45- to 49-year-olds said they were planning to get one. Two out of three people over the age of 60 were planning to or already had received the shot in October.

The flu vaccine is one of only two shots recommended for all adults, the other being a tetanus booster every 10 years. While 75 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed in the nationally representative research said they trusted the tetanus shot to be effective and safe, only around half indicated they trusted the flu vaccine.

“One of the challenges with the flu vaccine is we’ve sort of plateaued in terms of the number of people who get the seasonal flu vaccine,” Nowak said. “That’s unfortunate because more people can clearly benefit from getting it. It’s not a perfect vaccine, but it’s the best protection you can have from influenza.”

One factor that influenced people’s decisions to get a flu shot was their history of getting vaccinated in previous flu seasons; people who received a flu vaccination in previous years were most likely to get a flu vaccination this year. This is a finding that provides hope for a higher adult vaccination rate in the future if more children grow up getting the vaccine.

“People most trust vaccines they’ve had experiences with,” Nowak said. “When people gain experience with a vaccine they often become more willing to follow the vaccination recommendation.”

Flu vaccination is recommended for all adults, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is promoting later-season vaccination with National Influenza Vaccination Week, which takes place Dec. 4-10.

The research involved a nationally representative survey of adults 19 years old and older. The data was collected by the National Opinion Research Center using its AmeriSpeak’s panel. Collaborators on the research include Michael Cacciatore, an assistant professor of public relations, and Maria Len-Rios, an associate professor of public relations, in the Grady College at UGA.