Story by Addison Conley
Photo via the School of Journalism and Strategic Media and Dr. Katie Foss
MTSU hosted the 48th annual Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Southeast Colloquium for the first time on March 2-4. According to MTSU’s website, the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium is the “oldest and most successful regional journalism and mass communication meeting in the southeast.” Graduate students and professors have been gathering at the event to discuss their research and ideas since the first meeting in 1976. This year’s gathering marked the first year that the LGBTQ Interest Group participated in the colloquium, and it was also the first time indoor rock climbing was featured as a networking opportunity.
At the conference, 44 completed papers and 67 developing papers were presented at the conference.
Clay Williams, a master’s student from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presented his work titled “How COVID-19 Affected the Mediated and Interpersonal Communication Networks and the Relationships of LGBTQ+ Individuals.” Stigmatized groups have a greater need for a support network, and Williams wanted to know how the support networks of LGBTQ people were affected by the pandemic.
His research focused on disrupted communicated, the tone of conversation, and the frequency of interaction between LGBTQ individuals and their loved ones. Williams found that dating app usage increased along with intent to meet up despite the ongoing pandemic. Frequency of interaction increased with family members and people reported having less angry conversations with family. Williams also found that the overall life satisfaction of LGBTQ individuals did not get better or worse after the COVID-19 pandemic.
A professor of journalism at Northern Illinois University, Bill Cassidy, presented his ongoing research on the arrest of Brittney Griner, titled “Initially an Afterthought? Sports Journalism Coverage of Brittney Griner’s Arrest, Detention, and Return.” Griner is an American athlete who is also part of the LGBTQ+ community, and she was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison for bringing cannabis into Russia illegally. Cassidy believes that this event was covered poorly by sports journalists. His research focuses on the poor coverage of LGBTQ+ and female athletes.
Cassidy found that sports reporters were reluctant to address lesbians in sports and that less than half of all articles written about Griner’s arrest were written by sports journalists. Cassidy mentioned that some sports journalists might be interested in writing about sports just because they enjoy the activity and aren’t as interested in uncovering the truth as journalists for standard media outlets might be.
The conference also featured six other groups: Broadcast & Mobile Journalism, Community Journalism, History, Law & Policy, Magazine Media, Newspaper & Online News, and Visual Communication. The Open Division and Great Ideas in Teaching Competition was also offered. Ten total panels were held, as well as a presentation by keynote speaker Dr. Kathy Roberts Forde.
All participants were invited to Climb Murfreesboro after the conference for an indoor rock-climbing networking opportunity.
Addison Conley is an academic research reporter for MTSU Sidelines.
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