Texas Tech University

Converging News

March 2018

In this issue of Converging News:

Dean's Note

David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.
Dean David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.

Dear CoMC Friends:

This month, we are starting a new feature called "Then and Now," spotlighting the perspective of our senior and Professor Emeriti faculty and other personnel. This month features Dr. Bill Dean, associate professor, president and CEO of the Texas Tech Alumni Association.

David D. Perlmutter

David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.
Professor and Dean





"As I go about visiting Texas Tech alumni chapters, I often run into former students, faculty and staff from our college. They are generally aware of the many changes that have taken place and always ask me,"Well, how does it compare now to days back in the old Mass Communications Building?"

Associate Professor Bill Dean, EdD.
Dr. Bill Dean,associate professor,  president and CEO, Texas Tech Alumni Association. 

That is a tough one. I firmly believe that the quality of instruction offered "back in the day" was excellent, but we obviously struggled as a department in another college as opposed to standing now as our own college. The situation improved when we became a school in the college, and then the big change came when we became a separate college and added a doctoral program. A few years later, Dr. Jerry Hudson, as Dean, negotiated with the Tech administration and we moved to the former Business Administration College building when that unit moved into their new quarters. The difference is stunning. We have tripled the amount of space we had in the old building. We have been able to add quality faculty and staff, almost doubling in size our number of people. Our enrollment has steadily increased. The Department of Communication Studies was added as well as the new Communication Training Center. We have so many new academic programs and research initiatives...

I often joke that, at the first of the academic year in early September as I get on the elevator, I am not sure whether or not the others in the elevator are faculty, staff or graduate students. Back in the old building, you could walk down the hallway on the second floor, north side, and come in contact with just about 90% of our faculty. Those days are gone, but it represents the great progress we have made in attracting top-quality faculty.

Many of our new faculty have told me how impressed they are with the great facilities and the quality of our academic program. Apparently, our college is becoming well known around the country.

I don't think any of us "old timers" long for the "good ol' days." We are thrilled with the progress that has been made and are very proud to be a part of it."

Bill Dean, Ed.D.
President and CEO, Texas Tech Alumni Association
Associate Professor, College of Media & Communication


 ESPN's College GameDay leaves CoMC students inspired

By Alexa Rosas

CoMC students help out at recent ESPN's GameDay when it arrived in Lubbock.
(Above image)- CoMC students help out at the recent ESPN GameDay when it came to Lubbock.(L-R): Leah Doherty and Shanae Schwack.

The 2018 basketball season was the first for Texas Tech's basketball program to host ESPN's College GameDay. As part of that, junior journalism major, Leah Doherty, who works as a broadcast service intern for the Texas Tech Athletic Department, spent the morning collecting video footage of the event for the department's social media.

"I had no real expectation of what this day would look like," Doherty reported. "Sports is ever-changing and you must remain flexible so just dealing with whatever the day threw at me was hard."

Each weekend ESPN chooses a different location to host the pregame show, based typically on a historic rivalry between teams or simply two teams who have displayed great talent and are sure to have a competitive, exciting game, as was the case for Texas Tech and Kansas State.

"I enjoyed being a part of history. Seeing the fans so excited and so proud of their team made me more thankful than ever to be a Red Raider and I felt honored to have a small role in the event," said Doherty. "This whole experience affirmed my choice of profession and I want to work hard as a sports broadcaster to continue to share those special moments with the rest of the world. I learned first-hand what an ESPN-produced show looks like and how much work goes into each show. I also saw the level I need to perform at to one day work for ESPN."

Amber Smith, a senior public relations major and ambassador for TTU Athletics, also found herself basking in the Red Raider spirit. As she spent the morning providing breakfast to those brave students who had camped out the night before and guidance to everyone who entered the arena, Smith could only describe the game's turnout as "miraculous."

"Watching students scream loud and proud for the school was moving," said Smith. "I believe that Texas Tech students show more pride than any other university and being able to share at least a little bit of that with the nation was very rewarding."

Neither Smith nor Doherty believe that the effect of such an event will be lost among students, fans or other universities in the future.

"Win or lose, history was made and Texas Tech showed the country that we are a great school with a successful basketball program," Doherty reported. "The student body and faculty bonded over a mutual support for the team. Eyes were drawn not only to our university but to the Big 12 Conference as well. This will help with recruiting for all sports and encourages students to come to Texas Tech. This past weekend proved that we are an institution that is well respected, has incredible fans and attracts high-caliber athletes." 

Texas Tech students dominate the local ADDY competition

By Alexa Rosas

CoMC alvarado_CN_March2018
(Above image)- CoMC student Juan Gil, one of two students who recently placed in the local ADDY competition.

On Feb. 10, 2018, several Texas Tech College of Media & Communication students competed for this year's American Advertising (ADDY) Awards. In the Lubbock-area competition, senior graphic design major Maria Alvarado received gold as well as the Judge's Choice Award for her booklet, "25 Years." Senior EMC major Juan Gil also received gold and won the "Best in Show" award for his short film, "Tunnels."

According to James Hodgins, director of the CoMC's Ideation Lab, winners of the local competition will go on to compete at the district level against students from Oklahoma, Arkansas and western Louisiana. 

"I believe advertising competitions like this benefit students in two ways. First, it gives them practice working on creative projects where they receive feedback through winning or not winning. Like we learn when we're kids, the best way to get better at something is practice. The other way it benefits students is through networking and recognition," said Hodgins. "Professionals at all levels pay attention to student winners to recruit them for internships and even jobs. The higher your entry goes, the more exposure the student receives. Also, putting awards on a resume is a great way to stand out."

Alvarado, who previously won in the national competition in 2017, said that she prepared for the competition by paying special attention to her craftsmanship, so that there would be nothing to distract the judges from her content. Additionally, she learned what makes for the most successful submission.

"I learned that, as a designer, often the most successful pieces we make are labors of love—projects that we're truly passionate about. When we design for people or products we believe in, our output is usually a lot stronger. And when the output is strong, don't be afraid to show it off," Alvarado said.

"If [the viewers] stick around for the credits, they'll hopefully look up my name and check out my other films," said Gil. "The more clout you have as a filmmaker or media producer, the more inclined people are to mention your name whenever a company or organization is looking for video content or creative content in general. I think winning best of show just reaffirms that whatever I'm doing as a creative media producer seems to be working and people seem to be responding to it."

Winners of the national competition will be announced on June 7 in Chicago. There is more to be gained than just an award, however.

"I think entering competitions like the ADDYs is useful in getting creatives to evaluate their own strengths and identify what projects they're most proud of," said Alvarado. "Submitting your work to outside critique and comparison can be scary, especially for young designers, but it's something you have to get comfortable with if you want to have a great career. And it sure doesn't look bad on a resume."


Research examines narrative and political campaign emails

By Alexa Rosas

CoMC Assistant Professor Bryan McLaughlin.
(Above image)- CoMC Assistant Professor Bryan McLaughlin.

Political campaigns use a variety of new media technology to reach supporters. Increasingly sophisticated strategies integrate tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and websites, and these platforms get the bulk of attention in research. One tool, however, is often overlooked but plays an important role in the modern campaign: email.

New research by Texas Tech University's College of Media & Communication in Lubbock, Texas, is taking a fresh look at the political email. According to Assistant Professor Bryan McLaughlin, campaigns rely on email for everything from fundraising to grass-roots organizing taking advantage of a cheap and effective way to spread their message.

"Email is unique in that it allows campaigns to talk directly to people," McLaughlin said. "We were interested in how campaigns use emails, what goals they have and how they achieve those goals."

McLaughlin worked with then-graduate students Bailey Thompson and Amber Krause to collect and analyze one year's worth of campaign emails from Democratic and Republican campaigns in the run-up to the 2014 midterm elections. The results were recently published in their article "Political Fiction: Political Emails During the 2014 U.S. Midterm Election" which appeared in the journal Social Science Computer Review.

The team found that both parties were similar in that they used email as a means of fundraising and voter mobilization. But there were distinct differences when it came to appeals, calls to action and the political narratives used.

Republicans, the study concludes, were most likely to use email to get people to engage on social media, while Democrats were more focused on grassroots organizing—convincing people to meet up with others in their city and getting involved.

The messages were also different. Republicans were likely to focus on returning America to a past glory and use war terminology to describe their opponents while Democrats mostly depicted an idealized America yet to come and painted their opponents as obstructionists. It is these differing views about the country that intrigued McLaughlin the most.

"The thing that I was most interested in was the way that they construct these very different narratives about America," McLaughlin said.

It is this area, the creation of political narratives on which McLaughlin and other CoMC researchers will focus their effort next.

"People are told very different things and have a very different picture about what is going on based on the narratives the parties construct," McLaughlin said. "It will be interesting to see to what degree people are transported into the narratives."

Transfer student takes the college by storm

By Alexa Rosas

Justin Rex, CoMC transfer student.
(Above image)- Justin Rex, a CoMC transfer student.

Justin Rex has made a name for himself within Texas Tech's College of Media & Communication, where after receiving his undergraduate degree in electronic media & communication, he is continuing his education and earning his graduate degree.

Before beginning his career at Tech, Rex spent two years at Lone Star College in his hometown of Houston.

"That was a good transition into college because I was homeschooled before that and I had never been in a regular school environment, so learning how that environment worked was a good way to ease into it, rather than being thrown into it with thousands of other students,"
Rex said.

But Rex was not unprepared when he arrived at Tech. While in community college, he was also taking photography classes at the Glassell School of Art through the Museum of Fine Art in Houston. With the portfolio he was able to build, Rex was also able to find mentors in Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs, Dr. Todd Chambers, as well as Associate Professor Dr. Jerod Foster. 

While living in the Media & Communication learning community during his first year at Tech, Rex worked as a staff photographer at The Daily Toreador. After leaving to pursue other interests, Rex was asked to return to the staff as the photo editor during his senior year. 

According to Rex, working as an editor with a staff of eight offered a wide range of experience. 

"There is something different to do every day," said Rex. "I think in October I went from shooting a football game on Saturday, a sorority event Sunday, a police officer got shot Sunday night and then everything that followed. It was such a good job to grow in, because you're always on your toes." 

Additionally, Rex is preparing for his second Adventure Media Trip with Dr. Foster, this time as a graduate student focusing on filming a documentary on experiential learning. A trip like Adventure Media is perfect for Rex, as cycling for the Texas Tech cycling team has become a central hobby for him after a shoulder injury left him unable to swim, which until early college was his passion.

"I was devastated, so I had to figure something else out—something that I could physically and competitively do—because I couldn't just stop like that," said Rex. "I had raced a little bit when I was younger, so I started looking for Texas schools that had a cycling team (USA Cycling specifically) and that had a collegiate team that competed at the club level." 

His first turn with Adventure Media helped Rex to narrow his focus and may have even changed the direction in which he wants to take his career. 

"It helped me narrow my focus in what I want to do and really inform what I am doing moving forward," Rex said.

When Rex imagines his future career, he has two goals. The first is to continue on the track that he is on and focus on being an editorial photojournalist overseas. 

"Whether it's conflict photography, humanitarian photography or anything else, I want to be able to go and work in those environments, because I feel that that's where I am best tailored to work," Rex said.

While Rex looks forward to time abroad, he also knows that having a family is in his future, which is where the second goal comes in: cycling photography.

"What I would like to be able to develop back here is some of the stuff we worked on in adventure media," said Rex when describing his goal of photographing cycling. "I have always been drawn to sports photography, but these are telling different stories than shooting a game and it's something that I really enjoy working with. I think that because of my athletic background in cycling and having raced a bike all through college, I am used to these kinds of athletes, I get along with them and I can really fit into that culture very well, even if it's not something I live in all of the time."

Professor speaks at Iowa City's 'Darwin Day'

By Alexa Rosas

CoMC Assistant Professor Asheley Landrum.
(Above image)- CoMC Assistant Professor Asheley Landrum.

Charles Darwin was born Feb. 12, 1809 and since 2007, Iowa City, Iowa has been celebrating this day with "Iowa City Darwin Day."

On Feb. 23, 2018, social-cognitive psychologist and Assistant Professor in the College of Media & Communication, Asheley Landrum, was invited to speak to three of the event's audiences: psychologists, biologists and the general public.

"To psychologists and biologists, I talked about how more knowledge about climate science or evolution does not equal more acceptance of climate science or evolution," said Landrum. "Instead, we have to take into consideration people's values and beliefs. Then, if we want people to trust in the science, we must show that the science is not incompatible with their beliefs."

Landrum's discussion with the general public took on a slightly different perspective.

"I spoke about how we all engage in motivated reasoning," reported Landrum. "The news loves to blame the religious and the politically conservative for denying 'science.' However, it is not just those groups. We all deny science when it is inconvenient to our prior beliefs and values."

To illustrate this point, Landrum cited an example from her latest research, where she discussed two ways in which the Zika virus may become more problematic in the U.S. The first suggested that global warming would be the cause, while the second suggested immigration. As a result, conservatives rejected the science surrounding the climate change condition, while liberals rejected the science surrounding the immigration condition.

"At least from my talks, I hope that people recognize how influential motivated reasoning is in evaluating scientific evidence," said Landrum. "We are all guilty of rejecting science information and it is not limited to conservatives and religious people. We all do it. Moreover, it is not enough to increase knowledge; people who know more are even better at motivating their positions. This leads to further polarization. Instead, we must increase appreciation for science, and celebrate why it is the best method of understanding more about the world we live in."

TAF members visit agencies in Dallas area for spring tour

One of the student groups met with professionals to learn more about their future industry.The group represented a wide selection of CoMC students ready to learn more about their professions.CoMC students had the chance to meet face-to-face with professionals in their field of choice.Advertising professionals sat down with students to talk about their day-to-day experiences.


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