My primary area of research is media management and economics from a public-interest perspective, particularly dealing with potential influences on news content and coverage decisions. I have examined this area through extramedia, organizational, and within-media forces, with particular attention focused on how financial and ownership interests may drive news coverage. My scholarship has been strongly rooted in media theory and theory building. Through my research, I have focused heavily on two established theories, agenda building and frame building, and have worked to build and test a third theoretical approach, the little-known/studied concept of agenda cutting. I have presented and published about this approach at both the national and international levels.
Through my teaching interests, I've begun research in the area of community branding and development, using an interactional theory approach. I'm also currently exploring social media from media agenda-building and media-effects perspectives, and I have researched the strategic use of social media platforms. I primarily use quantitative research methods, but I'm also familiar with focus groups and in-depth interviews. I enjoy model-building and testing, and I've worked in this area using structural equation modeling to explore both manifest measures and latent constructs.
What am I currently working on? Thanks to a $9,777 WVU Faculty Research Grant, I'm currently working on an extensive project regarding FCC policy titled "Does Media Financial Interest Drive News and Editorial Coverage? A Longitudinal Examination of Coverage and Editorial Framing of the FCC’s 2002, 2006, and 2010 Review of Media Ownership Rules."
This research examines news and editorial coverage and framing of the FCC’s 2002, 2006, and 2010 reviews of media ownership rules. Using a quantitative content analysis on an extensive data set that spans three different policy review time periods, this research explores those media companies that would or would not stand to benefit from (a) possible relaxation of ownership, (b) multiple-ownership in the same market, or (c) ease of limits regarding household reach within a market, versus those that would not stand to benefit from such rule changes. Initial findings from a pilot study conducted on just the editorial coverage of the 2002 FCC review indicated that those media entities that stood to benefit from these relaxation of ownership rules ran significantly more positive editorial coverage than those that did not stand to benefit. Those entities that did not stand to benefit ran significantly more negative editorial coverage. The initial findings indicated that financial interest drives editorial coverage. The current study is much more extensive, as it covers three reviews of ownership rules by the FCC and adds news coverage (articles), rather than just opinion pieces, into the mix.
In the past, proposed changes by the FCC to relax some of the aforementioned ownership standards were met with strong opposition from the public, interest groups, and politicians alike. Therefore, this study is not only significant because of its possible implications concerning journalistic autonomy and integrity, fairness of market competition, and best media practices to benefit the public interest, but it is also important to track how the public was informed through the media throughout the process. This particular area of research is “media management and economics’ primary contribution to management research on structural effects of organizational performance” (Ann Hollifield, 2007: personal e-mail correspondence).