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Academics & Research January 29, 2013 //  by  // Comments

Valenti professors granted research opportunities

With the new semester in full swing, the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication professors begin their grant-funded research efforts.

Temple Northup, an assistant professor at the Jack J. Valenti School, received $3,000 from the University’s Small Grants Program.

“The money is being used to develop a website for the Gulf Coast Food Project, which is an interdisciplinary project started within the center the Center for Public History,” said Northup. “This city has such incredible diversity of cultures, and this is reflected in the food that we all eat.”

The project was pushed ahead by his and associate professor Monica Perales’ efforts in the course they taught together last semester.

“The course brought together graduate students from history and undergraduate students from the Valenti School of Communication,” said Northup. “Students had to produce a 10-minute long documentary that somehow related to food in this city.”

“These projects served as the impetus to really develop a website to showcase these projects, as well as many of the other projects that other faculty members had been working.”

The project is already well on its way with an image being created to associate with it.

“I have already started using the funds,” Northup said. “For one, I have a designer working on a logo for our project so that we can start branding what we have going on.”

Students have also began piecing together a website and organizing the content to be published once it is completed, Northup said.

“My hope is that once the website launches, people around the University, city and region will start going to it to see all the great projects that students and faculty have been working on,” Northup said. “This could also get more students across the University interested in the project.”

“The grants were awarded by two organizations: the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and the Knight Foundation.”

Lindita Camaj, assistant professor in the School of Communication, also received a research grant this year, starting this summer with $6,000 provided by the New Faculty Research Grant.

“The aim of this study is to analyze the implementation of Freedom of Information legislation in Montenegro, a transitional society in South-Eastern Europe, exploring factors that facilitate or hinder journalists’ ability to acquire public records,” Camaj said.

This research falls in line with her interests in media’s role in the FOI legislation, democratization, elections and agenda-setting and priming.

“This project is an extension of a previous study I conducted in Kosovo and Albania,” Camaj said. “That study found that journalists in both countries share similar problems due to discrepancies in the overall legal environment that facilitate the culture of secrecy in which these laws operate.”

The plan for the current project is to compare the cases of Montenegro, Kosovo and Albania, looking at the major differences their government institutions have and how it may be of consequence for their democratization plans, Camaj said. The data collection for the research is set to begin summer of 2013.

“In-depth interviews will be conducted with thirty journalists to assess media access to public records,” Camaj said. She will be hiring a research assistant who will help conduct and transcribe the interviews.

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