Texas Tech University College of Media & Communication

The Thomas Jay Harris Institute for Hispanic and International Communication Newsletter
Fall 2013

The Thomas Jay Harris Institute for Hispanic and International Communication

Note from the Director

Kent Wilkinson, Ph.D. This year's newsletter is published later than usual so we may share exciting news: the institute has received a generous gift from the estate of Thomas Jay Harris, the late former editor of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. As Mr. Harris was a strong advocate of international education, his gift will support student research, study abroad programs, and other initiatives that will enhance students’ global understanding. The institute and professorship have been renamed to reflect the gift. The institute expresses deep gratitude to its founder, Dean Jerry Hudson, Ph.D., who retired in June. We welcome Dean David Perlmutter, Ph.D., and wish him great success.

Kent Wilkinson, Ph.D.
Thomas Jay Harris Regents Professor in Hispanic and International Communication



IHIC to Publish The Journal of Spanish Language Media

In February the institute assumed editorship of The Journal of Spanish Language Media, a key publication in the field, which was initiated and edited by Alan Albarran, Ph.D., of the University of North Texas. Volume 7 of the journal will be published in early 2014, with Kent Wilkinson, Ph.D., serving as the new editor. Changes to be implemented in future volumes include publishing select articles in Spanish, utilizing a multimedia-friendly format, and featuring articles by industry professionals. Information and back issues of the journal can be found at spanishmedia.mcom.ttu.edu



Reaching Audiences Conference

In February IHIC co-hosted an academic-industry conference together with Erik Bucy, Ph.D., the Marshall and Sharleen Formby Regents Professor in Strategic Communication. Reaching Audiences brought together media industry experts from Hispanic media and market research to discuss the industry’s current status as well as opportunities for collaboration with academic researchers. Summaries of the conference sessions and other content are available at: www.depts.ttu.edu/comc/reachingaudiences/



IHIC Advisory Board Formed

IHIC Advisory Board Meeting

IHIC Advisory Board meeting from left: Doctoral students Merhnaz Rahimi, Dane Kiambi, Jessica El-Khoury and board member April Alejandro.

In 2012 the institute convened an advisory board comprised of media professionals, some of whom are alumni of the College of Media & Communication. We appreciate the time and expertise these professionals are committing to helping guide the IHIC. Please visit www.depts.ttu.edu/comc/ihic/advisory.php to read their profiles.

  • April Alejandro* – Glazer’s, Austin, Texas
  • Becky Arreaga* – Mercury Mambo, Austin, Texas
  • Alberto Avendaño* – El Tiempo Latino, Washington, D.C.
  • Juan Faura – Hispanic marketing expert and author, Dallas, Texas
  • Isabella Sánchez – Zubi Advertising, Miami, Florida
  • Lionel Sosa – Hispanic marketing expert, author and painter, San Antonio, Texas
  • Arturo Villar – Hispanic Market Weekly, Miami, Florida

* Denotes college alumni



Collaborative IHIC Research Projects

During 2012-2013, IHIC-affiliated faculty and graduate students conducted a cross-national and cross-language content analysis of newspaper coverage of the 2012 U.S. presidential election in seven countries: China, France, Iran, Mexico, Russia, the U.S. and the U.K. A chapter for the forthcoming book, The United States Presidential Election 2012: Perspectives from Election Studies, Political and Communication Studies (Springer VS), was co-authored by Liz Gardner, Ph.D., Kent Wilkinson, Ph.D., Patrick Merle, Ph.D., Yunjuan Luo, Ph.D., Mehrnaz Rahimi, Boni Cui, Svetlana Rybalko, Ph.D., and Matthew Van Dyke.

In Spring, Liz Gardner, Ph.D., Rebecca R. Ortiz, Ph.D., and Autumn Shafer, Ph.D. conducted focus groups with Hispanic diabetics to better understand resistance to persuasive health messages, with the ultimate goal of developing more effective health communication for this underserved audience. The focus groups explored the influence of cultural values and other factors related to diet, exercise, and lifestyle in Hispanic diabetics’ and pre-diabetics’ reception of and reactions to messages encouraging them to adopt healthy behaviors.



Affiliates’ Recent Activities

IHIC Affiliates

IHIC Affiliates, Family and Friends from Left: Kent Lowry, Heather Davis, Kate Peaslee, Hazel Peaslee, Rob Peaslee, Coen Peaslee, Erik Bucy, Kent Wilkinson, Sun Young Lee, Merhnaz Rahimi, Krit Kachathan, Alicia Bouchillon, Brandon Bouchillon, Cece Bouchillon, Yunjuan Luo, and Jessica El-Khoury.

Liz Gardner, Ph.D. Liz Gardner, Ph.D., continues her work on health communication for underserved populations, with collaborative projects including focus groups with Hispanic diabetics, interviews with diabetics in India, and a survey testing message design strategies for Hispanics. She and a cadre of IHIC researchers completed a multi-national analysis of press coverage of the 2012 U.S. presidential election. In her PR for Nonprofits class in spring, students developed media, fundraising, and volunteer recruitment materials for nonprofit organizations throughout the community.


Yunjuan 'Lily' Luo, Ph.D. Yunjuan “Lily” Luo, Ph.D., recently published “Mapping agenda-setting research in China: A meta-analysis study” in the Chinese Journal of Communication. Another paper, “Web credibility in China: Is the Internet more credible than traditional media sources?” was selected as the top paper for the International Communication Division at the 2013 AEJMC midwinter conference. She is principal investigator on a Komen Foundation grant project to develop communication strategies for promoting breast tissue donations among Asian Americans.


Rob Peaslee, Ph.D. Rob Peaslee, Ph.D., recently published articles in the International Journal of Communication and Mass Communication and Society. He continues to serve as the campus coordinator of the Global Lens film series and is guest editing a special issue of Interactions: Studies in Communication and Culture titled “The Host City: (Re)Locating Media Events in the Network Era.” He is programming chairperson for Lubbock’s Flatland Film Festival and in spring traveled to the South-by-Southwest film festival to do research and scout potential festival films.



Weiwu Zhang, Ph.D. Weiwu Zhang, Ph.D., assumed responsibilities as assistant director of graduate studies in Spring 2013. On March 1 he was notified that his application for tenure and promotion to associate professor was approved by the Texas Tech Board of Regents.





Recent Graduates

Dane Kiambi, Ph.D. Dane Kiambi, Ph.D., successfully defended his dissertation “Country Reputation: Measurement and Audience Effects.” His research interests include reputation management, organization-public relationships, crisis communication, and health communication. Dane is now an assistant professor of public relations in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.


Patrick Merle, Ph.D. Patrick Merle, Ph.D., successfully defended his dissertation “Political Aptitude: A pas de deux with Agenda-Setting?” and is now assistant professor of public relations at Florida State University teaching a graduate seminar in International Public Relations, and Political Communication at the undergraduate level. He will continue his research on political communication in a cross-national context, political aptitude and agenda-setting, and further investigate the academic-practitioner gap in public relations.



Doctoral Students

Brandon Bouchillon Brandon Bouchillon completed his Ph.D. qualifying exams in August. In June, he presented a paper titled “The Media’s Role in Demobilization: Framing Trends, Susan G. Komen, and the Planned Parenthood Reversal” at the International Communication Association conference in London. Bouchillon is currently researching how political cynicism waxes and wanes on new media, while addressing whether new media forms also foster social capital.


Boni Cui Boni Cui presented her co-authored research with Glenn Cummins, Ph.D., at the Broadcast Education Association conference in April. She is working on a project examining the effects of anti-smoking campaigns that contain both adverse images of smoking and appetitive smoking cues. In summer she collaborated with students in the music department to explore factors contributing to the success of Psy’s “Gangnam Style” video.


Jessica El-Khoury Jessica El-Khoury completed her Ph.D. qualifying exams in June, then presented a paper to the International Communication Association in London. She is currently collaborating with Kent Wilkinson, Ph.D., and Autumn Shafer, Ph.D., on studies related to entertainment-education and alcohol/drug abuse, as well as the influence of media messages advocating against domestic violence. Both studies compare young adults in Lebanon and Texas.


Pria Khandelwal Pria Khandelwal studies the communication of health messages, advertising and market research. During the summer she carried out a study of type-II diabetes in India. Her other areas of interest include political communication and new media, especially mobile phones. She is committed to discovering new ways of reaching diverse audiences via mobile phones.


Mehrnaz Rahimi Mehrnaz Rahimi completed her Ph.D. qualifying exams in August. In 2012-2013 she presented papers at the Joint Journalism and Communication History conference and the Global Fusion conference, and a poster at Texas Tech’s Graduate Student Research Poster Competition. Rahimi also collaborated with other IHIC researchers on a content analysis of how newspapers covered the 2012 U.S. presidential election in seven countries.