Missouri faculty team receives AEJMC Senior Scholars grant to help in their study of articles written ‘by journalists about journalism’

Amanda Hinnant, Ryan Thomas and Yong Volz

Funds will help improve Discourse of Journalism database, making it more user-friendly and accessible to more people.

By Jennifer Nelson

Columbia, Mo. (Feb. 25, 2020) — Three faculty members from the Missouri School of Journalism recently received a $5,000 Senior Scholars grant from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication for a research project.

Associate professors Amanda Hinnant, Ryan Thomas and Yong Volz plan to use the grant to improve the Discourse of Journalism database, which is used to capture trade publications and industry outlets. As they conduct their research, they want to study articles to learn how “journalists describe their perceptions of roles, events in the industry and patterns of journalistic behaviors during the past 20 years of upheaval in the industry,” said Hinnant. The database features articles written “by journalists about journalism,” according to the research abstract.

“It is important for journalists to reflect on their field and the issues affecting it,” said Hinnant. “Analysis of these reflections is valuable for the industry because it offers the big picture of how journalists are confronting and adapting to change over time. The content we are analyzing is open to the public and, alongside the analysis by researchers, serves to bring citizens who are concerned about journalism into the conversation about its future.”

The team will use the funding for labor costs as they improve the database by adding more publication sources and make it more user-friendly. One way the team would like to make the database more user-friendly is by improving the search feature so that searches can be shared and saved. They also want to make sure the scrape of each outlet brings in a complete collection of content. Updating the software should also make the database more user-friendly, said Hinnant.

The Missouri team would also like to make the database accessible to more people who could benefit from the research resource including members of AEJMC, said Hinnant. Improving the database will also give the team opportunities to support more graduate student research by providing a ready-made database for students searching for “journalism about journalism,” the team said.

The Discourse of Journalism database was created by former J-School Associate Professor Tim P. Vos who received a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism to develop the database. Creating the database provided Vos a way to learn more about how journalists wrote about the field and the changes occurring within it, said Thomas. RJI and Edward McCain, digital curator of journalism at RJI and MU Libraries, continue to maintain the database.

Doctoral student Liz Bent assisted the team on their proposal, helped put together the grant application, and has used the database for her research, said Hinnant.

In addition to the Senior Scholars grant, MU alumnus Dr. Russell Clayton (Ph.D. ’15), an assistant professor at Florida State University, received the 2020 Emerging Scholars grant for a project he is working on related to the various responses of e-cigarette users to anti-vaping public service announcements.

AEJMC plans to share initial results from the 2020 scholar projects during a session at its 2020 conference.

Updated: February 25, 2020

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