Research by assistant professor Heather LaMarre is featured in a new symposium issue of Mass Communication and Society that emphasizes the impact documentaries have on society.
Specifically, LaMarre and Kristen Landreville, of The Ohio State University, found that the historical reenactment film, Hotel Rwanda, produced greater issue interest about the Rwandan genocide than did actual live footage, as shown in The Triumph of Evil documentary about the subject.
Documentaries are becoming an ever-more-valued commercial enterprise at for-profit cable television networks and a wildly popular amateur genre on YouTube - Broadcast Yourself™. Their presumed impact on political debate and elections inspired researchers to examine the documentary genre's social and policy influence in a special issue of the leading journal Mass Communication and Society.
Television and films documentaries such as An Inconvenient Truth and Supersize Me have become important sources of both information and persuasion for many people. Professor Matthew Nisbet of American University, guest editor of the documentary issue, said, "These films are considered part of a larger effort to spark debate, mold public opinion, shape policy, and build activist networks."
Mass Communication and Society's new Special Issue (Volume 12, Issue 4, 2009) features pioneering articles that investigate the forms, functions, and impacts of documentary films. The special issue is scheduled to be released in mid-November 2009. Mass Communication and Society is published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis, and is affiliated with the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.