encycloMake no mistake, the topical entries in THE CONCISE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMMUNICATION are, well, concise.  But that’s this particular encyclopedia’s charm. The one-volume work, edited by Wolfgang Donsbach, is based on the landmark 12-volume International Encyclopedia of Communication of 2008. It is both a distillation and update of the former work.  Jointly published by Wiley-Blackwell and the International Communication Association, it features over 550 interdisciplinary entries defined by hundreds of  distinguished contributors.

Explains the editor: “‘The original printed version of the IEC had 1,339 entries ranging from less than 1,000 to more than 6,000 words.  Converting the IEC into the CEC meant primarily three tasks: (1) selecting headwords, (2) Abridging the corresponding entries, and (3) updating their content.’  As a first step [Donsbach] went back to the area editors of the IEC and asked them to name the 50 percent of headwords they deemed the most important in which, therefore, they would like to see printed in a concise reference work.  Most area editors made this decision.  In cases where they did not respond the editor stepped in.  In addition, some fine-tuning was necessary in order to avoid overlap and give sufficient coherence to the headword system.  This resulted in 577 subjects covered by more than 500 authors, about 43 percent of the subjects covered in the IEC.” –Editor’s Introduction

To combat the strictures of brevity, large topics are perforce broken into pieces. The entry, Journalism, is barely more than two pages but continues with topics such as Journalism Education; Journalism, History of; Journalism, Legal Situation: Journalists, Credibility; and Journalists’ Role Perception.  Still, all of this only comprises nine pages. And look out for strays; off in the A’s lurks “Alternative Journalism,” go figure.   There is a complete list of topics in the front you may want to check.  While most are obvious, too-be-expected terms and phrases (Agenda Setting, Cultivation Analysis, CNN, Political Economy of the Media) there are some doozies that you wouldn’t think to look for such as: Bad News in Medicine, Communicating.

There is not much in the way of bibliographies, often only 4 or 5 per entry, but again, this is the concise version of the field and as such it is an informative work to spend some time with.


Communication Research: A Citation Analysis of Faculty Publication

The Behavioral and Social Sciences Librarian (Volume 34, Number 3, July-September, 2015) features a Communication faculty citation analysis at the University of Houston that has implications for students and scholars as well as academic librarians making collection building decisions.  The editor of B&SS Librarian is my good colleague Lisa Romero, Communications librarian extraordinaire at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. wbss

Information Use in Communication Research: A Citation Analysis of Faculty Publication at the University of Houston, by Wenli Gao


Citation analysis provides valuable information on researchers’ information use behavior, and helps librarians make evidence-based collection development decisions. However, no citation analysis of faculty publications in the field of communication has been performed to study communication researchers’ information use behavior. This study examined communication faculty publication from 2006 to 2014, analyzing format, age, most frequently cited journals, and their subject areas. Analysis of local holdings provides evidence for the library’s role in support of faculty research, and helps librarians articulate the value of libraries.

“Locals” can see me for my copy of the journal (Penn Libraries does not currently hold a subscription to B&SS Librarian) or use Interlibrary Loan.

Article Feature: Issues and Best Practices in Content Analysis

There’s a good overview article on content analysis in the latest Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly.

The piece, by Stephen Lacy, Brendan R. Watson, Daniel Riffe, and Jennette Lovejoy, is titled Issues and Best Practices in Content Analysis.


This article discusses three issues concerning content analysis method and ends with a list of best practices in conducting and reporting content analysis projects. Issues addressed include the use of search and databases for sampling, the differences between content analysis and algorithmic text analysis, and which reliability coefficients should be calculated and reported. The “Best Practices” section provides steps to produce reliable and valid content analysis data and the appropriate reporting of those steps so the project can be properly evaluated and replicated.

Systematic Reviews in Communication Yearbook 39

cy39Communication Yearbook 39  (Elisia L. Cohen, 2015 editor) in perhaps in a trend going forward, features a section this year called Focused Systematic Reviews (Part IV.)

Systematic reviews have been around for a long time in the sciences, medicine in particular, growing out of the “evidence movement.” Evidence-based medicine, a term coined back in 1972 in an influential article by A. L. Cochrane, refers to the practice of physicians judiciously consulting current research in order to make the best clinical decisions. To do this, urged Cochrane, required  strategies for accumulating and assessing current research on a medical topic or question. Not only physicians, but public policy makers could be more effective with a more thorough, i.e. systematic approach to crafting informed policy. To this day, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) is the gold standard resource for systematic reviews in health care. Fast forward to the 1990s when systematic reviews started to matter to the social sciences. The EPPI-Centre was set up in 1992 at the Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London to develop a database of interventions evaluations in the fields of education and social welfare. Before long the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services was commissioning reviews in the area of health promotion along the same lines as the Cochrane reviews but for non-clinical health issues. Today systematic reviews are in all disciplines, humanities included. They are sometimes referred to as meta-analyses–the terms are sometimes used interchangeably when in fact they are different. A systematic review focuses on protocols around how to ask the question and the search strategies involved in gathering and organizing information that addresses the question. Meta-analysis is more focused on the review part—thoroughly synthesizing (statistically where appropriate) all that’s been gathered. A meta-analysis cannot occur without a systematic review, but not all systematic reviews lead to meta-analyses. For a quick overview on the topic see Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences: a Practical Guide by Mark Petticrew and Helen Roberts.

Back to Communication Yearbook 39. The systematic review I want to point you to is the lead piece on nuclear power:

Communicating Nuclear Power: A Programmatic Review by William J. Kinsella, Dorothy Collins Andreas, and Danielle Endres.


Civil and commercial nuclear power production is a material and discursive phenomenon posing theoretical and practical questions warranting further attention by communication scholars. We provide a brief discursive history of nuclear power, followed by a review of scholarship in communication and related disciplines. We then examine five areas for further research: 1) the fragmentation of technocratic and public discourses, 2) regulation and governance, 3) the politics of nuclear waste, 4) critical social movements, and 5) intersections of communication, rhetoric and nuclear risk. We provide a rationale and foundation for further work in these and other areas related to nuclear power.


Like all good systematic reviews it includes a substantial bibliography (in this case twelve pages, over a third of the piece). The other two reviews in the section are The Persuasiveness of Child-Targeted Endorsement Strategies (Tim Smits, Heidi Vandebosch, Evy Neyens, and Emma Boyland) and Expectancy, Value, Promotion, and Prevention: An Integrative Account of Regulatory Fit vs. Non-fit with Student Satisfaction in Communicating with Teachers (Faviu A. Hodis and Georgeta M. Hodis). 

It remains to be seen if Yearbook 40 will continue the “new tradition” or if next year I’m saying “what tradition?”

November CommQuote

I think it’s safe to say this is William Staffords most famous poem.  It would be a good assigned text for all first-year Communication students–grad or undergrad–to cut their teeth on. 

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider-
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give-yes or no, or maybe-
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
–William Stafford, from Stories That Could Be True. © Harper & Row, 1982

BBC Media Action Resources

p034sf6p (1)BBC Media Action, the BBC’s international development charity whose goal is to use the power of media and communication to reduce poverty and help people to understand their rights, publishes good reports on its research and activities.  Check out the Publications and Resources section of its site for articles such as Humanitarian Broadcasting in Emergencies or How Radio and Distance Learning Built Skills and Knowledge for Cocoa Farmers in Sierra Leone.

If you are interested in media development issues in a particular part of the world you can search this section of the site by region or country; also by type of publication–research, policy, brochures, media action films, and stories of change (personal testimonies of how a certain tool or communication strategy made a difference).

BBC Media Action also has a blog that is quite active with several posts per week.



Introducing Kulture

Kulture Asian American Media Watchdog (PRNewsFoto/Kulture Media)

There’s a new watchdog on the block called Kulture, a website devoted to tracking offensive representations of Asian Americans in the media. Explains Kulture’s founder Tim Gupta in the September 28 press release: “Many Asians know TV shows represent them in a bad light. But they may think they’re alone in that view. Kulture spotlights how Hollywood mocks and excludes Asian men while fetishizing Asian women. Kulture helps Asians and those concerned about media racism stay abreast of how Asians are depicted, and we will eventually serve as a platform for them to take action against Hollywood offenders.”

The site is easy to navigate and as it builds up more data it will be interesting to track offenders by media outlets, media types (TV shows, TV ads, movies, magazine ads), most recent offenses, and worst offenses. Offense categories include Denigration (Asians are weak), Denigration (Mockery of Asians), Gender (Asian Woman as plaything to White Male), Gender (White Male gets girl over Asian male), and Self-Aggrandizement (Whites as central), among others.  The site welcomes visitor input–anyone who spots an offense is encouraged to file out an Offense Report for refereed inclusion on site. To “join the bleeding-edge of Asian American activism,” simply sign up to receive bimonthly offense reports.

If you read Kulture’s manifesto of sorts–I’m referring to the About Us section–see if you don’t feel the ghost of George Gerbner and Cultivation Theory.  A convincing case is built for their enterprise. Television is 1) a storytelling medium, 2) the average person invests five hours a day watching it, and 3) these message (story-delivering) systems, movies included, harbor deleterious effects over time. The effects are most damaging to minorities since identities are by and large socially constructed. Though some research is cited in tandem with a couple of these points, this is classic Gerbner, going back to the early 70s.  It’s safe to say he would approve of this project. 



The State of Broadband 2015

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Digital Development (launched by the ITU and UNESCO in 2010) has just released its The State of Broadband 2015. state_of_broadband_2015_chart

For anyone interested in global internet access and technology development issues, there is good cross-cultural, comparative data in this report.

“A large body of evidence has now been amassed that affordable and effective broadband connectivity is a vital enabler of economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. Although global mobile cellular subscriptions will exceed 7 billion in 2015 (with nearly half of these subscriptions for mobile broadband), growth in mobile cellular subscriptions has slowed markedly. The total number of unique mobile subscribers is between 3.7-5 billion people (according to different sources), with some observers interpreting this as an indication that the digital divide may soon be bridged.

However, the digital divide is proving stubbornly persistent in terms of access to broadband Internet, including the challenge of extending last-mile access to infrastructure to remote and rural communities. According to ITU’s latest data, 43% of the world’s population is now online with some form of regular access to the Internet. This leaves 57% or some 4.2 billion of the world’s people who still do not enjoy regular access to the Internet. In the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), only one out of every ten people is online. The gender digital divide is also proving incredibly difficult to overcome, reflecting broader social gender inequalities.” –From the Introduction

Women’s Magazine Archive I

Penn Libraries welcomes a new e-resource to its collection, Women’s Magazine Archive I, a searchable archive of five leading women’s interest magazines, dating from the 19th century through to the 21st. Titles are: GH

Better Homes and Gardens (1925-present)
Chatelaine (1940-present)
Good Housekeeping (1887-present)
Ladies’ Home Journal (1887-present)
Parents (1949-present)

All of these magazines were aimed at a female readership and thus are excellent primary sources for investigating the “women’s sphere”–from cooking and decorating to family health and parenting issues, from fashion and beauty to gardening and travel (most likely in the form of the family vacation). These magazines also touched on social issues of the day; individually or taken as a whole they represent a trove of  19th and 20th-century history and culture.

image_4 This from the Archive’s About section: “The magazines are all scanned from cover to cover in high-resolution color, ensuring that the original print artifacts are faithfully reproduced and that valuable non-article items, such as advertisements, are included. Detailed article-level indexing, with document feature flags, enables efficient searching and navigation of this content.”

A search on “lemon meringue pie” turns up 95 hits–one can compare a 1903 recipe to more recent ones. Turning to underwear, the 50s are a decisively bra-obsessed decade. A search on “bras” or “brassieres” over the decades proves no contest with the 50s putting up over hundred hits above its closest “rival” decade. A subject like addiction plays out like this: of 335 hits overall there are 36 in the 50s, 56 in the 60s, 47 in the 70s, 42 in the 80s, 77 in the 90s, and 86 from 2000-2009. 

The Women’s Magazine Archive I is a Proquest Database and you know what parentsthat means: it’s sitting in a suite of many other Proquest databases Penn subscribes to, including the Vogue Archive (1892-present).  If you want to select both of these files together you’ll have another iconic women’s magazine in the mix, all in the same search.

Routledge Handbooks Online

I’d like to point out a trove of media studies handbooks that lives on the Penn Libraries website. These handbooks are located in an e-resource suite of multi-disciplinary reference titles called  Routledge Handbooks Online. RHO titles in the Communication and 9780203404119Media section include:

The Routledge Companion to Identity and Consumption
The Routledge Companion to Digital Consumption
Routledge Handbook of Sport and New Media
Routledge Handbook of Social and Cultural Theory
Routledge Handbook of Sport Communication
Handbook of Cultural Sociology
Routledge Handbook of Internet Politics
Routledge Handbook of Human-Animal Studies
The Handbook of Comparative Communication Research
Routledge Companion to Media and Gender
Routledge Companion to Media & Gender
Routledge Handbook of Body Studies
Routledge International Handbook of Crime and Gender Studies
The Routledge Companion to Labor and Media
The Routledge Companion to Religion and Popular Culture
The Routledge Companion to Mobile Media
The Routledge Companion to Video Game Studies
The Routledge Companion to the Cultural Industries
The Routledge Companion to Advertising and Promotional Culture
Routledge Handbook of Cosmopolitanism Studies
Handbook of Contemporary European Social Theory
The Routledge Handbook of Emotions and Mass Media
Routledge Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology

Works for other disciplines such as Education, Psychology, Security Studies, Business & Economics, Linguistics, Philosophy, Sociology, Sport & Leisure, and Criminal Justice are also available. Users can search across subject areas, that is, search over 11,000 chapters (from over 320 volumes to date) or focus singularly on a selected volume and search just within that.  All chapters are accompanied by an abstract.