School welcomes journalism, journalism history and mass communication professors. Three new professors have joined the School of Journalism and Mass Communication's faculty.
Heather LaMarre joined the SJMC in 2009 as an assistant professor in mass communication. With her background in Fortune 100 government and corporate relations, LaMarre witnessed the increasing use of alternative media in politics and public debate. Its rise to prominence sparked her curiosity and led to academic-based exploration of issues related to alternatives to mainstream news delivery and what amounts to a redefinition of news media.
"My research lies at the crossroads of strategic communication, politics, and social-psychology," LaMarre says. "I investigate questions of social influence and persuasion, with a focus of the uses and effects of media on attitudes, behaviors and opinions regarding social and political issues. I also research public relations, public opinion and public communications, with an interest in how social and entertainment media influences one's attitudes, emotions, behaviors and opinions about such topics."
She received both an M.A. in communications and an M.B.A. in public administration before completing a Ph.D. in communication, all at The Ohio State University. Her current research focuses on social media and public opinions.
"I am especially interested in how and why social and entertainment media are changing public relations, politics and news," she says.
Changes in the news industry -- including use of social media -- also spark the curiosity of Seth C. Lewis.
Lewis was appointed to the faculty in fall 2010 as an assistant professor in new media journalism. He completed a Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin. Previously he received an M.B.A. from Barry University and a bachelor of arts in communications from Brigham Young University.
Lewis was assistant sports editor at the Miami Herald and his writing has appeared in more than a dozen magazines and newspapers. For Lewis, studying journalistic practice and professionalism in the context of digital-age technology can help the industry understand where it is heading.
"My research is focused on the innovation of journalism: how it's happening, who's catalyzing it, and with what kind of implications for journalism's role in society," Lewis says. "That begins with understanding how journalism works--the gathering, the filtering and the sharing of information--is changing in a networked, socially driven media environment. That also means taking an interest in what these changes are doing to the very DNA of journalism: its ethics, norms and values. For example, to what extent is user participation becoming integrated as a taken-for-granted expectation of journalism, and what is the implication of that shift?"
Lewis's dissertation, "Journalism Innovation and the Ethic of Participation: A Case Study of the Knight Foundation and Its News Challenge," explored media sociology, participatory culture and innovation in journalism.
"In trying to understand journalism innovation, my research is moving toward studying the 'boundary-spanning' spaces where different professions and their identities intersect," Lewis says, adding one example is looking at where journalists and computer programmers come together to form a new kind of network of culture and practice.
Looking to the past can help journalists and mass communicators understand the future of both industry and even international relations, says Giovanna Dell'Orto.
Dell'Orto joined the SJMC faculty as an assistant professor in fall 2010. During the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 academic years, she served as a contract faculty member at the SJMC.
Dell'Orto draws on her experience as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press in Atlanta, Phoenix and Minneapolis.
"My main research interest is in the history of the role of mass communication in international relations, because I believe that an essential factor in how nations interact is what they understand of each other, an understanding that is often formed through the news media," Dell'Orto says. "I am currently studying the history of American foreign correspondence, looking both at how it intersected with U.S. foreign policies and what it might predict for the future of international news gathering at a time of great financial stress for the industry, and professional soul-searching for journalists." Media also play a role in the formation of identities across geopolitical boundaries, Dell'Orto says.
"Because of my interest in the role of the media in shaping identities across national boundaries, I am also looking into the history of the Latino press in the United States and what part mass communication has played in the immigration debate here and in Europe."
Dell'Orto is the author of two books, "The Hidden Power of the American Dream: Why Europe's Shaken Confidence in the United States Threatens the Future of U.S. Influence" and "Giving Meanings to the World: The First U.S. Foreign Correspondents, 1838-1859." She coauthored "Hated Ideas and the American Civil War Press" with SJMC professor emeritus Hazel Dicken-Garcia.
Dell'Orto received her doctorate in mass communication from the University of Minnesota in 2004. She earned a master of arts in mass communication from the university in 2000 and her bachelor of arts in journalism and art history from the university in 1998.
SJMC's Kucera earns CLA's Outstanding Service Award.
The College of Liberal Arts presented Jean Kucera, the SJMC's unit administrator, with its Outstanding Service Award Dec. 14. In an e-mail message sent to college staff members, CLA Dean James A. Parente Jr. wrote the award was "richly deserved recognition of her exceptional performance and contributions" to the school.
Investigative reporting grant awarded
The School of Journalism and Mass Communications and MinnPost.com received an $80,000 grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation that will fund a joint program to help students identify, research and write investigative reporting projects.
Chris Ison, associate professor, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former Star Tribune investigative reporter and editor, coordinated the program with Jeff Severns Guntzel, a MinnPost reporter whose work focuses on investigative and data-driven projects.
One group of students examined the impact underfunding the state's public defender system has on defendants' abilities to get adequate representation.
Another group examined whether the recession truly had hit men harder than women, and what the impact had been on Minnesotans.
Journalist Edith Kinney Gaylord, whose father was editor and publisher of The Oklahoman and The Oklahoma City Times, created the Oklahoma City-based Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation in 1982. The grant to SJMC and MinnPost was part of $2 million in grants to 22 journalism organizations across the United States announced in October 2010.