Wunpini Fatimata Mohammed awarded 2022-2023 Sarah H. Moss Fellowship

Wunpini Fatimata Mohammed, assistant professor in Entertainment and Media Studies, has been named a recipient of a 2022-2023 Sarah H. Moss Fellowship. 

Administered by the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Georgia, the fellowship provides funds for travel and related expenses for tenure-track faculty pursuing advanced scholarship, research and study.

Mohammed’s research project is titled, “Media and Decolonization: Re-righting the Subaltern Histories of Ghana.” With this funding, she plans to travel to several cities in Ghana, including Tamale and Accra, to conduct archival research, ethnographic observations and follow-up interviews to supplement research already done which will become a scholarly book.

Wunpini Mohammed, assistant professor in EMST, teaches Entertainment Media Analysis outside in the Media Garden.
Wunpini Mohammed, assistant professor in EMST, teaches Entertainment Media Analysis outside in the Media Garden. (Photo: Sarah Freeman)

“In this research project, I am interested in examining the silenced histories of media in African communities that have historically been shut out of their own representations,” said Mohammed.

“I am going back to my community in Ghana to learn more about the media cultures of the country to satisfy some of the curiosities I had growing up as a child,” she continued. “I will be examining content on mediums such as radio and TV, focusing on how they have served as a tool for marginalization and a site of resistance within this community.”

Mohammed will be spending time at the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation in Accra to sort through their archives and gather data to support the section of her book on technology and media development in Ghana.

Mohammed will also spend time at community gatherings to learn more about community relationships with media at the regional and national level. In Tamale, she will be hosted by the  Department of Communication, Innovation, and Technology of the University for Development Studies. 

“Growing up, I barely saw representations about me and my community in national media. This sparked my interest in media and the politics of media representation,” Mohammed said about what motivated her to pursue this research topic. “These experiences have inspired me to contribute to building knowledge in the field of media so that the people who come after me will have something to build on too.”

Study shows less can be more when building rapport in interviews

This story was originally published on UGA Today

Sometimes less is more, at least when it comes to building rapport during interviews.

That’s according to new research from the University of Georgia, which reveals that verbal interviewing techniques have a greater impact than nonverbal techniques—and combining the two had a detrimental effect.

The new study led by Eric Novotny, a postdoctoral research associate at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, was published in Communication Studies. Based on a laboratory experiment that compared the effectiveness of verbal and nonverbal techniques in building rapport, it provides useful insight for situations like doctor-patient interviews, job interviews and police investigative interviews.

“It was a bit of a surprise to find that using verbal and nonverbal techniques together backfired,” Novotny said. “In hindsight it was probably seen as forced or too much, making the interviewee feel that any rapport that resulted was fake. The bottom line is that using one technique or the other is better than neither or both.”

During the experiment, Novotny performed one-on-one interviews with 80 participants involving their personal histories. He practiced active listening—using simple indicators of agreement (e.g., “uh-huh,” “I see”), that encouraged the subject to continue—with all participants, but used four different strategies.

Verbal and nonverbal interview tactics

With one group, Novotny used verbal commonalities, disclosing information about his own life (both real and fabricated) to establish common ground. Previous research indicates that people tend to like and feel similar to those who disclose information to them.

With a second group, Novotny used a nonverbal technique called mirroring, the largely nonconscious imitation of another person’s body postures and movements, a strategy that has long been linked to an increase in rapport among interactive partners. He attempted to mimic the body postures and arm/leg placements of the participant (e.g., arms on the table and legs crossed) within approximately two seconds of witnessing it.

With a third group, Novotny combined the verbal commonality and mirroring strategies. With the fourth group, or control group, he did not employ either strategy.

Prior to being interviewed, participants completed a document that required them to rank 10 topics (academics, athletics, family, finances, friends, leisure, medical history, mental health, pet ownership, romance) in terms of how personal they were. The interviewer used these responses to choose topics for the interview. After the interviews, participants rated how willing they were to continue discussions with the interviewer, as an indicator of rapport.

What communication techniques were most effective for building rapport?

Results indicated that participants were more willing to discuss personal topics when verbal commonalities were used alone, versus in conjunction with nonverbal mirroring. In the group that experienced mirroring, participants were more willing to disclose personal information with the interviewer, but not at a rate that was significantly different from the control group. The combined condition produced the lower rapport of any group.

“Based on the literature, we knew that verbal and nonverbal techniques work to help build rapport during an interview, but we didn’t know what happened if you used both,” Novotny said. “This applies to everything from investigative interviewing to therapists and their clients, so we were interested in knowing which technique—or combination of techniques—was going to be most effective.”

While verbal commonalities and techniques that employ mirroring body language can be applied with minimal training and preparation, Novotny notes that interviewers should be aware of their cognitive load during the interview. Between formulating questions, writing, listening and attempting to build rapport, interviewers can easily get overloaded and be less effective—though that can be improved with training, he said.

Alternatively, the combined use of both techniques could seem forced or phony to participants. Novotny believes that once a person realizes someone is actively seeking rapport or manipulating them, it backfires, wiping out any gain from the verbal or nonverbal technique.

Despite the challenges, Novotny was surprised by the participants’ willingness to discuss sensitive topics.

“It was interesting how willing random strangers were to tell me their deepest, darkest secrets,” he said. “I think, because I was a stranger and they’d never see me again, they were more willing to open up to a simple question like, ‘Why is your financial history so private to you?’ And then they would start discussing their money troubles.”

Co-authors on the study include Mark G. Frank, University at Buffalo, SUNY, and Matthew Grizzard, The Ohio State University.

Grady College faculty and graduate students participate in the AEJMC 2020 Virtual Conference

Faculty and graduate students from Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication will present research findings, participating in panels and receiving awards at the 103rd annual Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference Aug. 6-9, 2020. The conference was originally set in San Francisco and is now an online virtual event due to COVID-19. 

All times below are noted as Pacific time zone unless noted otherwise.

The AEJMC is an educational association of journalism and mass communication educators, students and media professionals.


Graduate students Jeffrey Duncan and Taylor Voges co-authored a paper, receiving the James Carey Award as the Top Student Paper in the Cultural and Critical Studies Division. The award-winning paper is titled “EULAs as Unbalanced Contractual Power Between an Organization and its (Unannounced and Underage) Users: A Mobile Game Textual Analysis.” It will be presented Aug. 9 at 11 a.m.

Jeong (Janice) Hyun Lee and Solyee Kim were selected to participate in the 2020 AEJMC Presidential Diversity & Inclusion Career Development Fellowship for Graduate Students.

Solyee Kim is receiving the third-place award for a student paper in the Minorities and Communication Division (MAC) for “Communicating the Culture Through Korean Food Between Authenticity and Adaptation.” Kim is also receiving the AEJMC MAC Dr. Carolyn Stroman New Graduate Membership Award.

Grady Ph.D. student Shuoya Sun, along with Associate Professor Bart Wojdynski, Ph.D. student Matt Binford, and undergraduate student Charan Ramachandran received an award for the third-place paper in the Advertising Division. The award-winning paper is called, “How Multitasking During Video Content Decreases Ad Effectiveness: The Roles of Task Relevance, Video Involvement, and Visual Attention”, and the paper will be presented at 3 p.m. (PT) on Saturday, August 8.

Below are the Grady College faculty and graduate students who are presenting at this year’s conference.

Wednesday, Aug. 5 (pre-conference day — all times are in the Pacific time zone)

1-5 p.m. – Jonathan Peters (associate professor in journalism) is moderating a panel, “Inclusivity and Teaching Sensitive Topics.”

1-5 p.m. — María Len-Ríos (associate dean, academic affairs) is a panelist for “Women Faculty Moving Forward: 100 Years from Suffrage to Academic Leadership.”

Thursday, Aug. 6 (all times are in the Pacific time zone)

8:15-9:45 a.m. – Jonathan Peters (associate professor in journalism) is presenting an extended abstract and refereed paper, “Virtual Assemblies: Exploring Problems of Private Spaces and Press Protections.”

11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. – Kyser Lough (assistant professor in journalism) presents a refereed paper, “Judging photojournalism: The Metajournalistic Discourse of Judges in Two Photojournalism Competitions.”

1:30-3 p.m. – Jihoon (Jay) Kim (Ph.D. student), Joe Phua (associate professor in advertising), Nah Ray Han (Ph.D. student) and Taeyon Kim (Ph.D. student) present a refereed paper, “Investigating the Impact of Immersive Advertising on Attitude Toward the Brand: The Mediating Roles of Perceived Novelty, Perceived Interactivity, and Attitude toward the Advertisement.”

1:30-3 p.m. – Kyser Lough (assistant professor in journalism) is a panelist for, “Solutions Photojournalism: Visually Reporting Beyond the Problem-based Narrative.”

1:30-3 p.m. – Marilyn Primovic (Ph.D. student) and Joe Phua (associate professor in advertising) present a refereed paper, “Comparing Expectancy Violations Committed by Influencer Advertising Sources on Social Media.”

1:30-3 p.m. – Michael Cacciatore (associate professor in public relations) co-authored a refereed paper, “‘That’s Some Positive Energy’: How Social Media Users Respond to #Funny Science Content.”

1:30-3 p.m. – Taylor Voges (Ph.D. student) and Matthew Binford (Ph.D. student) present a refereed paper, “So Ordered: A Textual Analysis of United States Governors Press Release Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

1:30-3 p.m. — Karen Russell (associate professor of public relations), moderates a panel about “History and Public Relations Divisions Research.”

3:15-4:45 p.m. — Itai Himelboim (associate professor of advertising) has a submission in “Social Media, Civil Engagement, and Democracy” in the refereed paper session.

5-6:30 p.m. – Yan Jin (professor of public relations) presents a refereed paper, “Theoretical Advancements in Crisis Communication Research: Crisis Response Strategies.”

5-6:30 p.m. — Matt Binford (Ph.D. student) and Bart Wojdynski (associate professor) present a refereed paper, “’I Probably Just Skipped Over It:” Using Eye Tracking to Examine Political Facebook Advertising Effectiveness.”

5-6:30 p.m. — Karen Russell (associate professor of public relations) is a discussant of “Public Relations, Scholar-to-Scholar Refereed Paper Session, Topic X – Social Media and Dialogic Communication.”

Friday, Aug. 7 (all times are in the Pacific time zone)

8:15-9:45 a.m. – Solyee Kim (Ph.D. student) and Hyoyeun Jun (Salve Regina University) present a refereed paper, “First-generation Immigrants’ and Sojourners’ Susceptibility to Disinformation.”

8:15-9:45 a.m. — Ph.D. students Tong Xie, Xuerong Lu, Jiaying Liu, have a submission in “Topic IV – Refugees, Immigrants, and “Others”

10-11:30 a.m. – Karin Assmann (assistant professor in journalism) is presenting a refereed paper, “We Are the People – Audience Engagement as Catalyst for Newsroom Unionization.”

11:45 a.m. – Jeffrey Duncan (Ph.D. student) and Taylor Voges (Ph.D. student) receive the Top Student Paper Award in the Critical and Cultural Studies Division.

11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. – Solyee Kim (Ph.D. student) presents a refereed paper, “Communicating the Culture Through Korean Food Between Authenticity and Adaptation.”

5-6:30 p.m. – Dongjae Lim (Ph.D. student) and Nah Ray Han (Ph.D. student) present a refereed paper, “Choosing Appropriate Colors for Green Advertising: Perceived Greenwashing through Color Choices.”

5-6:30 p.m.  Porismita Borah (Washington State University), Itai Himelboim (associate professor), Bryan Trude (Ph.D. student), Matt Binford (Ph.D. student) and Kate Keib (Oglethorpe University) present a refereed paper, “You Are a Disgrace and Traitor to Our Country: Uncivil Rhetoric Against ‘The Squad’ on Twitter.

Saturday, Aug. 8 (all times are in the Pacific time zone)

8:15-9:45 a.m. – Nah Ray Han (Ph.D. student) presents a refereed paper, “Ethical Consumption as Fetishism.”

1:15-2:45 p.m. — María Len-Ríos (associate dean, academic affairs) moderates the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Elected Standing Committee on Research, Award panel session and the Deutschmann Award.

3-4:30 p.m. — María Len-Ríos (associate dean, academic affairs) is a panelist for “Addressing Diversity and Inclusion in the Practice and Scholarship of Science Communication.”

3-4:30 p.m. Shuoya Sun (Ph.D. student), Bart Wojdynski (associate professor), Matt Binford (Ph.D. Student), and Charan Ramachandran (undergraduate student) will present a refereed paper, “How Multitasking During Video Content Decreases Ad Effectiveness: The Roles of Task Relevance, Video Involvement, and Visual Attention.”

Sunday, Aug. 9 (all times are in the Pacific time zone)

9:15-10:45 a.m. — Itai Himelboim (associate professor of advertising) is a panelist for “From Silicon Valley Virtual Communitities to Trump Twitter Networks: Political Social Networks Visualized.”

9:15-10:45 a.m. — María Len-Ríos (associate dean, academic affairs) is a moderator for the Research Chairs training session.

11-12:30 p.m. – Jeffrey Duncan (Ph.D. student) and Taylor Voges (Ph.D. student) present a refereed paper, “EULAs as Unbalanced Contractual Power Between an Organization and its (Unannounced and Underage) Users: A Mobile Game Textual Analysis.”

11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Matt Binford (Ph.D. student) and Laura Hudgens (Ph.D. student) will present a refereed paper, “Fun in the Sun or Something More Serious? An Analysis of News Story Visuals About Heat Waves.”

Grady researcher studies the effect of comments associated with political interviews

As Americans prepare for another presidential election in 2020, a researcher at Grady College has found that comments left on social media posts about political interviews can, indeed, influence opinions.

“Comment sections are extremely powerful,” said David Clementson, an assistant professor of public relations at UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and the study’s author. “This research found that people will echo the sentiments expressed by anonymous strangers and will share opinions and attitudes about politicians and journalists in accordance with comments expressed by strangers.”

Clementson researched the impact of social media comments posted after watching a staged video of a news interview with a non-partisan political figure and a journalist. The goal of the research was to determine the impact of comments made by strangers on those who viewed the interview.

The study, “How Web Comments Affect Perceptions of Political Interviews and Journalistic Control,” is the first experiment of its kind examining the impact of social media comments in relation to a political interview.

“The study shows that this is a frontier of extreme influence that isn’t getting as much attention as fake news and fake Tweets,” Clementson said.

“If your goal is to influence opinions, it’s a lot more time efficient, and perhaps more impactful, to post a comment than create a website or fake social media account.”

Clementson’s research asked the subjects to view the same mock interview on YouTube, then divided the subjects into three groups: 1. A control group that had no comments beneath the interview; 2. A group that viewed comments accusing the politician of being deceptive or dodging questions; and 3. A group that viewed comments accusing the journalist of being deceptive and biased.

The survey was run twice: once with participants 18- to 60-years-old, and once with adult college students.

The research groups were then asked to post their own comments, which were evaluated for the study.

The survey found that the group of 18- to 60-year-olds were so influenced by the comments that they echoed the comments themselves.

The college student group was not as influenced by the comments – the comments that they typed themselves did not echo the ones they read – but in their responses to survey items they did echo the attitudes of the comment sections that they were exposed to.

The survey also evaluated the extent to which the subjects agreed that the journalist was biased or that the politician was intrinsically deceptive with answers.

The group that viewed comments indicating that the journalist was making the interview tough on the politician, echoed previous comments. However, the journalist was still seen as more trustworthy than the politician.

On the other hand, those who viewed comments implicating the politician for dodging questions, were even more critical of the politician than the first group.

“Media outlets can rest assured that when a comment section impugns the credibility of their journalist, their journalist will probably still have more credibility than the politician, even when the comments defend the politician. The politician stands to lose more from comment sections,” Clementson said.

Comments add a lot to the experience of reading web articles, and make it easier to process confusing political news, Clementson continued. Studies show that in general, comment sections are widely read, even if many people don’t post their own views.

“Viewers and readers may not know what to believe, but comments can help fill in the gaps,” Clementson said.

The research was published in the 2019 edition of Political Psychology.

Grady College’s Yan Jin selected by WhatsApp to research spread of misinformation

WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging platform, has selected a research team including Yan Jin, Georgia Athletic Association Professor in Grady College and assistant department head of advertising and public relations, to analyze how misinformation spreads and its impact on elderly during disease outbreaks.

WhatsApp selected 20 global research projects out of nearly 600 proposals and invested a total of $1 million to investigate how misinformation is spread and perceived.

Jin is part of a team of five researchers, two from the United Kingdom and two from India, who collectively were selected to research misinformation vulnerabilities among elderly during disease outbreak.

“Researchers want their work to create personal impact that helps individuals and communities,” Jin said. “Crisis communications must go beyond protecting the reputation of brands or organizations because public safety and well-being must be the top priority.”

Jin also serves as associate director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication, based at Grady College.

Jin is helping design the experimentation phase of the research with a focus on how different formats of information with varied accuracy level (accurate information vs. misinformation) affect people’s information trust, perceived source credibility and disease severity, and their intention to share such information on social media. The research team seeks to empower smartphone users to skillfully assess the accuracy of information on social media related to disease outbreak.

Based on real-world examples that circulated on WhatsApp during the 2018 Nipah Virus outbreak, the assessment method will use a variety of text elements, imagery and a combination of both to help determine if misinformation spreads more easily through a certain type of information delivery.

Whatsapp logo

The survey will be administered to elderly adults and their children in Bangalore, India, an area that dealt with multiple disease outbreaks as recent as 2018.

“We are basing our language and graphics on content seen in this community earlier this year,” Jin said. “It is important to be culturally authentic so we can best understand how our participants assess the accuracy of information.”

Jin said her team’s goal is to gather knowledge about how people process misinformation and recommend accurate information dissemination strategies to present to WhatsApp. The results will then be shared with public health organizations to help officials more effectively inform citizens of health risks in their communities.

The research team consists of:

  • Santosh Vijaykumar (principal investigator), Northumbria University (United Kingdom)
  • Venkat Chilukuri, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology (India)
  • Yan Jin, University of Georgia, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication (United States)
  • Arun Nair, Health Systems Research India Initiative (India)
  • Claudia Pagliari, University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom)



Study shows sharp differences between millennial communication professionals and their managers

Millennials are often criticized for the different values, qualities and skills they bring to work, according to a new study of millennial communication professionals (MCPs) by the University of Georgia, The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and the Institute for Public Relations. Although the new study confirms the generational differences of millennials, it concludes that some differences like millennials’ strong values for diversity, transparency and social responsibility, will help advance and enrich the profession.

Juan Meng, associate professor of public relations at the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and a Plank scholar, was the co-principal investigator, along with Bruce K. Berger, research director of The Plank Center.

The study also reveals a talent management ecosystem organizations can use to attract, engage, develop, retain and gain from top millennial talent.

“Millennials get trained and then they move on,” said Meng of a typical pattern seen among younger workers in the communications industry. “They could be really engaged for the first year, then their engagement level drops sharply and they move on. We want to see the possible talent management system to identify those effective approaches to help the organizations successfully recruit millennials, develop their leadership skills and retain them as employees for an extended period of time.”

A survey of 420 MCPs and 420 professionals who manage them (MGRs) revealed sharp differences in perceptions about millennials’ workplace values and attributes, engagement, leadership capabilities, and recruiting and retention drivers.

Among the biggest differences of opinions are the following:

•       More than 80% of MCPs said they’re ambitious and passionate about work, but only half of their managers agreed. MCPs rated themselves much higher than MGRs did in work centrality (ambition, passion for work and professionalism), rewards and recognition, risk-taking and work-life-social values.

Workplace values and attributes




Ambitious about making progress and gaining new opportunities



Passionate about work



Willing to take risks at work



Value diversity of people at work



Supportive of social causes and socially responsible companies



•        Almost three quarters (70.9%) of MCPs said they are ready to lead. They rated their capabilities much higher than did MGRs for their communication knowledge, vision, team leadership skills, ethical orientation, strategic decision-making and relationship-building skills, and readiness to lead.

Leadership Capabilities




Demonstrate a strong ethical orientation and professional values



Ready to be an excellent leader in communication



•       MGRs rated their own engagement in the job (83.1%) and the organization (74.4%) significantly higher than MCPs rated their work (72.8%) and organizational (59.3%) engagement. However, MCPs with less than one year on the job were as highly engaged as MGRS; the level dropped sharply for those with 1-3 years of experience before returning to year-one levels after seven years.

“Millennial communicators come to the job excited and enthusiastic,” said Berger. “But those qualities soon fade for some who leave the organization due to poor cultural fit, supervisory issues or better opportunities.”

•       Two-thirds of MCPs said job decisions were driven most by reputation (68.1%), culture (67.2%), and location (67.4%), among nine drivers. More than 60% said key retention drivers were culture (63.8%), work-life-social approaches (62.4%), and development opportunities (61.6%), among 14 factors. MGRs’ perceptions of recruitment and retention drivers for MCPs were significantly lower for most factors.  


I was attracted to the organization because it…



Had a fine reputation



Is a very socially-responsible organization



Offered opportunities for growth and development



Has a very open and positive culture



Is a great location (geographically)





To retain employees, my organization…



Supports a work-life-social approach



Has a very open and positive  culture



Engages in socially-responsible programs



Provides growth and development opportunities



Particularly, MCPs said meaningful career planning, more mentoring and equal pay for men and women would increase retention rates.

Bringing the Positive Differences to Life with a Talent Management Ecosystem

According to the study, the generational differences are real, but so are some bright hopes and qualities within them. “MCPs see the world differently—from context to connectivity to crisis—but they are digital natives with great passion for leadership and strong values for transparency, social responsibility, diversity and community—all touchstones for our profession today. We can draw from these skills and values to enhance practice and build a brighter future,” Berger said.

To fulfil the goal of the talent management ecosystem, “the key is to contextualize and personalize actions in each process,” said Meng. “Organizations lean heavily on context, but the combination of the two is far more powerful.”

 The full report can be found here: http://plankcenter.ua.edu/resources/research/millennial-communication-professionals-in-the-workplace/

Infographic made by Britt Buzan, The Plank Center, Institute for Public Relations

AdPR’s 2017 spring speaker series highlights importance of research

The Grady College Department of Advertising and Public Relations will host a series of guest speakers for faculty this spring to discuss the importance of research for the profession.

“Research is a top priority for the program. We’re excited to offer a research series for faculty and graduate students,” said Tom Reichert, department head of AdPR.

The speaker series continues the success from last year’s guest speakers who also focused on the importance of research in the communications field.

“We’ve invited top researchers to share their work,” said Reichert. “The speakers have great expertise in the areas of advertising and public relations.”

The first guest speaker of the semester, Michelle Andrews, will discuss mobile advertising and promotions on Jan. 20 from 10:30 a.m. to noon in Grady College’s Peyton Anderson Forum. Andrews is an assistant professor at Emory University with an expansive list of publications focusing on mobile advertising and marketing.

The other scheduled speakers are listed below. All lecture will take place in Studio 100.

    Friday, Feb. 10 – Charles “Ray” Taylor, professor of advertising and marketing at Villanova University and current editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Advertising.

    Friday, March 17 – Pengyuan Wang, assistant professor of marketing at UGA focusing on multi-platform, online and complex media campaign research.

    Friday, April 7 – Brooke Fisher Liu, associate professor at the University of Maryland and director of the Risk Communication and Resilience Research Program.

Papers in 1972 Supreme Court case have implications for journalist’s privilege today

Analysis of the papers of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. sheds new light on a nearly 45-year-old ruling involving journalist’s privilege, according to William E. Lee at the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Lee’s research examined Powell’s notes, memoranda and correspondence with other justices for the case of Branzburg v. Hayes, the only journalist’s privilege case ever heard by the Supreme Court. In Branzburg, a journalist claimed a First Amendment right to refuse to reveal his sources to a grand jury investigating illegal drug use. The court ruled 5-4 that there was no First Amendment-based privilege; journalists, like other citizens were obligated to testify before grand juries.

Powell cast the deciding vote and wrote a concurring opinion. Lower courts addressing subsequent journalist privilege cases have struggled to decipher Powell’s separate opinion. Some courts believe Powell supported a journalist’s privilege, other courts conclude that Powell rejected the privilege. Because of these conflicting interpretations, a judge on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in 2013 that the lessons of Branzburg are “as clear as mud.”

The goal of Lee’s research was to clarify what has long been regarded as one of the most confusing concurring opinions in the court’s First Amendment cases. The research included review of Powell’s papers, which are archived at Washington & Lee University; studies of available papers from other justices, housed at the Library of Congress; and interviews with law clerks, including Larry Hammond who as a law clerk to Powell in 1972 assisted in the preparation of the concurring opinion.

Lee believes, based on extensive research, that Powell was opposed to a First Amendment-based privilege. Powell believed any journalist’s privilege should be created by legislatures, not the judiciary. While courts should be sensitive to the burden of unreasonable subpoenas, Powell did not believe that journalists were entitled to special constitutional protection.

“Those courts that have read his opinion in a very expansive way, who have treated it as promoting a journalist’s privilege, I think are wrong,” said Lee, a professor of journalism and communication law. “I believe Powell was more narrowly focused and only in extreme cases of what he called harassment would courts protect journalists. In most circumstances he thought that journalists had to testify and reveal information they had received in confidence.”

Other key justices for Branzburg v. Hayes included Justice Bryon White, who wrote for the majority saying that the Supreme Court was not going to grant journalists a special testimonial privilege that other citizens do not enjoy, and Justice Potter Stewart, who wrote the dissenting opinion in favor of protecting journalists.

Powell sided with the majority but wrote the following, which some courts have interpreted broadly over the years: “The asserted claim to privilege should be judged on its facts by the striking of a proper balance between freedom of the press and the obligation of all citizens to give relevant testimony with respect to criminal conduct. The balance of these vital constitutional and societal interests on a case-by-case basis accords with the tried and traditional way of adjudicating such questions.”

Lee traces the development of Powell’s concurring opinion and shows that Powell’s attention to the case was limited due to the intense discussion within the court as to whether to rehear the abortion case Roe v. Wade. At the same time as Branzburg, Powell was also preoccupied with Furman v. Georgia, in which the court struck down the death penalty in several states.

This research is important, according to Lee, because the law of journalist’s privilege is a mess. Since there is no federal shield law, a patchwork of legal protections may be applicable depending on the jurisdiction. In some areas of the country, journalists may rely on a First Amendment-based privilege in federal proceedings. Other jurisdictions do not recognize this privilege. Some states have strong statutory shield laws, but most states offer only qualified protection to journalists. “Right now, the protections for journalists vary wildly from state to state,” Lee said. “It’s messy and you can’t predict all the variables that would be at play when you make a promise to a source that you will protect their identity.”

Lee continues: “These are ongoing issues that affect communicators on a regular basis. As long as courts treat Powell as protecting journalists and being more like Stewart, then there is no incentive for Congress to craft a federal shield law. Congress has backed away because it thinks the lower courts are doing a good job of protecting journalists.”

Lee’s research, “A revisionist view of journalist’s privilege: Justice Powell, Branzburg and the ‘Proper Balance,’” was published in the 2016 issue of the “Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal.”

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.

Research finds consumers are more accepting of native advertisements

The line between online content written by journalists and story-like ads that are paid for by specific corporations can be blurry, but, according to a new study, consumers don’t seem to mind—as long as the content meets certain criteria.

In a study published recently in American Behavioral Scientist, researchers at the University of Georgia, San Diego State University and Syracuse University found that consumers are becoming more accepting of native advertisements, especially when they are sponsored by a company with which the consumer has a strong relationship or if the advertisements provide information the consumer can use.

In the past, companies worried about whether their hard-earned dollars spent on native advertisements, which look similar to the other material that surrounds it whether online or in print, were actually harming their reputation with their consumers.

“What we found is that if there is useful information contained in the advertisement and there is a recognized brand logo, then the credibility of the company is not damaged,” said study co-author Sun Joo “Grace” Ahn, assistant professor of advertising in UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. “In our study we found that when we honestly tell people that a company is sponsoring the ad, their perception of that company didn’t change.”

The study involved 105 participants who were asked questions before and after seeing a native advertisement to determine their attitudes and perceived relationship with a specific company and brand. The researchers then asked the participants to go online and read a native advertisement which was written like a traditional news article. The organization sponsoring the native ad was disclosed to 55 participants; the sponsorship was not disclosed to the other 50 participants. Researchers evaluated whether it was important for content to be disclosed as an advertisement and whether the disclosure affected the attitude of the brand and company.

Of the 55 respondents who knew it was an advertisement, the research indicated the relationship a consumer had with an organization was not affected when they knew the advertisement was sponsored by a brand.

“Prior research has shown that when advertisers played around in spaces like this, it would damage the relationship they had with the public, especially if they did not disclose that they were behind the content,” said the study’s lead author Kaye Sweetser, an associate professor at San Diego State University. “What we found in our study is that rather than decrease the relationship, there was no change. This is a step in the right direction for public relations practitioners who don’t want to damage the relationship, and this could eventually mean that this type of content might potentially improve a relationship.”

The native advertisement used in the study was an actual ad sponsored by a well-known company and it included some multimedia elements. According to Sweetser, the participants tended to stay on the page for an average of eight minutes even though they knew it was a sponsored advertisement.

“The main message here is that if you can create something that is interesting and use extremely compelling storytelling with interesting multimedia, you can hold people on the page,” Sweetser said.

Future research will look at how every extra second consumers spend on a page affect their relationship with an organization, as well as their perception of its credibility and their overall brand attitude.

While the study showed that brand attitude for obviously sponsored content decreased slightly, it also showed that if the content was valuable or if the consumer perceived it as being useful, participants would have a favorable brand attitude whether the sponsorship was disclosed or not. If the consumer had a positive attitude toward the brand before the survey, it led to higher perceived usefulness in the native advertisement. The higher perceived usefulness, in turn, led to more favorable attitudes toward the advertisement and ultimately toward the brand. The survey concludes that when information usefulness is high, consumers may overlook the persuasive nature sponsored advertisements typically include.

“The presence or absence of sponsorship information didn’t affect the company’s credibility,” Ahn said.

According to Sweetser, this research bodes well for future efforts by public relations professionals.

“I would love to see how these boundaries might continue to be pushed and whether we could see an increase in an organization’s relationship with their publics as a result of something like native advertisements,” Sweetser said. “Organizations can step away from the overt publicity of themselves and their products and provide deeper, longer-form, compelling storytelling that their publics may be seeking.”

Additional researchers on the study were Guy Golan of Syracuse University and Asaf Hochman of Outbrain in New York.

The study, “Native Advertising as a New Public Relations Tactic” is available online in the November issue of American Behavioral Scientist.