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Date: Thursday, 26 Jun 2014 21:58

By Olivia Niland

Though Robert Garcia was just inaugurated as Long Beach’s 28th Mayor, he’s already brought historic change to the Mayor’s office. At 36, Garcia is Long Beach’s youngest mayor to date, as well as both the first Latino and the first openly gay mayor.

An Annenberg alumnus, Garcia received his master’s degree in Communication Management in 2005, and teaches at both Annenberg and the Price School of Public Policy, as well as California State University, Long Beach and Long Beach City College. After earning his master’s degree, Garcia went on to receive a Doctorate in Higher Education from Cal State Long Beach in 2010.

“I always wanted to be in education,” Garcia said. “I was always interested in civic life and being involved.”

For Garcia — who was born in Lima, Peru and immigrated to the United States with his family at age 5 — education was a stepping stone to a better life. Raised by his mother, aunt and grandmother in Covina, California, Garcia became the first in his family to graduate college, earning his bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from Cal State Long Beach.

“Education is what gave my family and I a chance to succeed,” Garcia said. “Having that opportunity, and providing that same access for as many people as possible, is important.”

During his undergraduate career, Garcia was elected student body president, a role which ignited his interest in politics and passion for public service.

“Government is in the business of helping people, [by] providing security and education,” Garcia said. “There’s a role in government to help people.”

Garcia began his political career with a successful run for Long Beach City Council, representing the First Council District, in 2009, and was elected Vice Mayor of Long Beach in 2012. Garcia credits the education he received in the Communication Management program as being especially applicable to the political field.

“It was a great experience and a great program,” Garcia said. “I had great instructors, Tom Hollihan in particular, who taught a great course on communication and politics. I learned a lot in that class, and I knew that [Communication Management] was the right program for me.”

For Hollihan, a professor in the Annenberg School of Communication, Garcia’s political promise was evident early on.

“Even as a student, Robert expressed a strong interest in public service,” Hollihan said. “He was an outstanding student in my media and politics class, and I closely followed his campaign for office. I was especially impressed by his clear and inspiring campaign messages and his social media strategy.”

Hollihan’s class instilled in Garcia an understanding about the importance of changing technology and communication systems, which he found to be especially useful in his campaign.

Another valuable aspect of Garcia’s experience as a Communication Management student, he said, was the diversity among students which USC is known for.

“There were students from all over the world, which was very beneficial to my growth,” Garcia said.

Diversity was a hallmark of Garcia’s campaign, and will continue to be an important issue as Garcia takes office as the mayor of an increasingly growing and diversifying city. Still, Garcia’s focus is first and foremost on serving the needs of all Long Beach residents.
“There’s historical implications [to my election,] but I’m really focused on being mayor for everyone,” Garcia said. “I represent everyone equally, regardless of skin color, or who people love, or what part of the city they’re from. I want to make sure that everyone in the whole city succeeds.”

In addition to his political career, Garcia has simultaneously taught journalism courses as an adjunct faculty member at Annenberg for three years, including J209: Effective Writing for Strategic Public Relations, and also mentors and advises students.

Though serving as Mayor is now Garcia’s first priority, he hopes to be able to balance his passion for both government and education while in office.

“I would love to still be able to teach at Annenberg,” Garcia said. “That’s something I’d always like to do.”

Image from Robert Garcia's campaign Facebook page.

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Date: Thursday, 26 Jun 2014 21:58



By Annenberg Public Affairs Staff

Anna and Elsa managed to rescue their kingdom from perpetual winter, but the challenge they face now is to save other female characters and actors from being frozen out of speaking roles in film.

A new study from the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative at USC Annenberg reveals that less than a third of all speaking characters are female across six years and 600 films. In 2013, females represented just 29.2 percent of all speaking characters. The researchers assessed every character who spoke one or more words on screen — over 25,000 characters in all from the top grossing films released in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013. The report is the largest, most comprehensive analysis of gender prevalence in recent film to date.

“Our findings this year are both familiar and phenomenal,” said USC Annenberg Professor Stacy L. Smith, author of the study and founding director of the Initiative. “Female characters are consistently underrepresented in the most popular films each year. However, there are reasons to believe that Hollywood can and does change.”

One positive finding is that women were most likely to be seen in comedy films, where 36 percent of characters were female in 2007, 2010, and 2013.

“Women like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Kristin Wiig, and Melissa McCarthy are true trailblazers and just a few of the reasons that women are making strides in comic films,” said Professor Smith.

Two other genres stood out to the researchers as areas that need improvement. “Activists and advocates should take aim at action/adventure and animation films,” said Professor Smith. These genres featured the lowest percentages of women. Less than a quarter of the characters in action/adventure films were female 20 to 23.9 percent, and in animation, gains between 2007 and 2010 were balanced out by a drop to 24.6 percent in 2013.

The report also examines how women are depicted on screen. Female characters are significantly more likely than male characters to be shown in sexually revealing clothing or partially naked, a trend that has been consistent over the past six years.

But 2013 saw one important change — the reversal of a three-year climb in female teen sexualization on screen.

“Teen female hypersexualization decreased by around 17 percent in 2013 from a high in 2012,” said Professor Smith. “What this reveals more than anything is that the trends we observe are not always stable. The numbers can change.”

The study also found bad news for women behind the scenes. 2013 represented a six-year low in the presence of women writers and directors. Just two of the 107 directors in 2013 were female, or 1.9 percent. The percentages of writers (7.4 percent) and producers (19.6 percent) are similarly low. “We need to move beyond asking the industry to change and find solutions that compel decision-makers to diversify their workforce,” said Marc Choueiti, one of the study authors.

A full description of the results and methodology of the study can be found in the report.

This study is the most recent from the MDSC Initiative, which releases yearly in-depth analyses of the prevalence and portrayal of gender and race/ethnicity in film. More than 65 students at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism worked on the study, including a team of 17 Harnisch Foundation/MDSC interns.

Key Findings:

  • Across 4,506 speaking characters evaluated, 29.2 percent were female and 70.8 percent were male in the 100 top-grossing films of 2013. Of these 100 films, 28 percent of the films had a female lead or co-lead. The percentage of female characters in 2013 does not differ from the other years in the sample (2007=29.9 percent; 2008=32.8 percent; 2009=32.8 percent, 2010=30.3 percent; 2012=28.4 percent).
  • In 2013, R-rated films (31.2 percent) featured a higher percentage of female speaking characters than PG films (24.9 percent), with PG-13 (28.6 percent) holding a middle position. Only 1 film was rated G.
  • The percentage of females by film genre was assessed for films in 2013, 2010, and 2007. Comedy depicted the largest percentage of female characters (2013=36 percent; 2010=36 percent; 2007=36 percent). Action and/or adventure films depict girls and women in less than a quarter of all speaking roles. Animation films depict females in less than a third of all roles, but fluctuate across the years studied.
  • Examining gender-balanced casts in 2013 (women in 45-54.9 percent of all speaking roles), only 16 percent of movies included gender parity. One film contained no female speaking characters. Another 12 percent of movies portrayed females in less than 15 percent of the cast and 52 percent of the films depicted girls and women as 15-34.9 percent of the cast. Only 2 percent of films featured more female than male characters.
  • Turning to behind the scenes, out of 1,374 directors, writers, and producers credited across the sample, less than a fifth (15.9 percent) of these content creators were women. This calculates into a gender ratio of 5.3 male filmmakers to every 1 female. Only 1.9 percent of directors, 7.4 percent of writers, and 19.6 percent of producers were women. Looking at the film as the unit of analysis, only 2 had a female director attached, 15 had a female writer attached, but 84 had a female producer attached. The number of female directors and writers is at a six-year low.

Portrayal of Male and Female Characters:

  • The age of male and female characters was examined. Focusing on the adult category (21-39 years old), females were more likely to be depicted in this age bracket (53.9 percent) than were males (45.3 percent). In contrast, males (39.8 percent) were more likely than females (24.9 percent) to be middle aged (40 to 64 years of age). A full 42.9 percent of children (0-12 yr. olds) on screen were female. Of the teen characters, 41.2 percent were female and 58.8 percent were male.
  • Across all six years, slightly more than half of all female characters in film were between 21 and 39 years of age. Less than a quarter of all female roles were for characters between the ages of 40 and 64.
  • Differences in the hypersexualization of male and female characters were explored. Females (30.2 percent) were far more likely than males (9.7 percent) to be shown in sexualized attire (i.e., tight or revealing clothing). Females (29.5 percent) were more likely than males to be shown with partial or full nudity (11.7 percent). It was also the case that females were more likely than males to be referenced as physically attractive (13.2 percent vs. 2.4 percent).
  • Films in 2013 showed a reversal in a three-year climb in teen hypersexualization. The percentage of female teens depicted in sexy attire or with exposed skin dramatically increased between 2009 and 2012. In 2013, these percentages drop 17.2 percent and 18.4 percent from the previous year. Given that there are so few female teens in the sample, these yearly percentages may fluctuate based on portrayals in a small number of movies. Therefore, the results should be interpreted with caution.

Image from "Gender Inequality in Popular Films: Examining On Screen Portrayals and Behind-the-Scenes Employment Patternsin Motion Pictures Released between 2007-2013" report.

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Date: Thursday, 26 Jun 2014 21:58

Money talks, and the topic of discussion will be the Federal Reserve on Wednesday morning.

Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, will speak about U.S. monetary policy from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on July 16, in Annenberg Room 204. Dean Ernest Wilson and Willow Bay, new director of the School of Journalism, are hosting the event.

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Date: Thursday, 26 Jun 2014 21:58

By Andrea Richards

To read sociologists Howard S. Becker and Robert R. Faulkner’s Thinking Together: An E-mail Exchange and All That Jazz, one of the latest offerings from Annenberg Press, is also to listen to it. Published as an e-book, the epistolary includes YouTube links scattered throughout its text, which play the compositions the authors reference so that readers can hear firsthand the songs up for discussion—or even, in a few instances, see the authors (a pianist and a trumpet player, respectively) performing them. Of course, the inclusion of these elements changes the process of reading, making it a more technologically dynamic experience as one shifts from the e-reader to the Internet and back. The feel of such transitions can sometimes be one of disruption--of waiting and wanting, of the occasional quick fix of immediate gratification—but they didn’t interrupt the flow so much as create a new sort of textual technical experience, where the movement between apps becomes part of the reading. Such ad-libbing, moving in spats and spurts along a musical line can’t be wrong for a book about jazz—especially when the subject of the email correspondence itself is a project about jazz improvisation and the repertoire of jazz players.

For Thinking Together, the e-book platform is ideal; its form and subject meld so that rather than simply being an electronic version of a printed book, it delivers a multimedia experience that takes full advantage of its digital format. And that, of course, is the idea. “E-books give us the ability to include enhanced content—links to songs, videos, interviews—inclusion of audio/visual materials and click-throughs that you just can’t do in print,” says Arlene Luck, managing editor of Annenberg Press. Last May, the Press began its e-book initiative with Piracy Cultures (guest-edited by Manuel Castells and Gustavo Cardoso) culled from the Press’s renowned online academic journal, the International Journal of Communication (IJoC). “It started from an idea that our Vice Dean, Larry Gross, had for a book,” Luck explains. “He wanted to expand Annenberg Press’ efforts to demonstrate the potential for innovative scholarly publication by converting a collection of essays that had been published as a special section in the journal and package it differently—it was a collection that was well-suited as an e-book.”

Happy with the result, the Press decided to give two other special sections of the IJoC a similar treatment and expanded their offerings into the e-books, Breaking Boundaries in Political Entertainment Studies and The Politics of Academic Labor in Communication Studies. Next came publications that would originate as e-books—Thinking Together and The Complete Sol Worth, a compendium of the visual communications pioneer’s work that includes clips from his films. In less than a year, Annenberg Press, which functions mostly through the work of Ph.D. students (characterized by Luck as “brilliant”), who managed to publish five e-books—all available on Amazon and major e-book retailers and downloadable on a wide variety of devices.

In publishing, the case for e-books is strong: they are cheaper to produce and purchase, the content isn’t static, and distribution is worldwide and immediate. In 2012, the sales of e-books surpassed that of hardbacks and accounted for 20 percent of publishers’ revenue. Still, few publishers—commercial or academic—have ventured to experiment much with enhanced content in the realm of nonfiction.

Perhaps because of its unique position—a school with its own publishing house, rather than a more conventional university press or commercial imprint—Annenberg Press is in a good place to experiment with the form. “Because we are such a big school, we have a broad appeal,” says Luck. That wide berth of interdisciplinary content, in collusion with a medium that allows for multimedia presentation, creates e-books that can appeal to audiences outside of the academic community as well as scholars. “The reach is different. Now our books have greater accessibility by people other than those in field of communication study,” Luck explains with notable glee.

That growth in audience will likely continue with the publication of the forthcoming e-book, Warning! Graphic Content, a collection of political cartoons and other “graphic content” created by Dwayne Booth, aka “Mr. Fish.” Renowned for his piquant and often nihilistic single-panel cartoons (his work appears regularly in Harper’s and on Truthdig.com), Booth’s e-book project will contain links to other images, to audio interviews, and to possible film clips. “It’s going to be loaded,” Luck says, and “some parts will function similarly to a website.”

Echoes of Gabriel Tarde: What We Know Better or Different 100 Years Later is another book project based on 19th-century French sociologist Gabriel Tarde’s essay of 1898, “L’Opinion et la Conversation” analyzing the applicability of Tarde’s theories to contemporary studies of communication, some 100 years later.  Elihu Katz, along with Christopher Ali and Joohan Kim, review current academic thought regarding the interaction of media, conversation, opinion, and action in public space and deliberative democracy.  Comparisons between the “then” and “now” are made through hyperlinking.

Katz and Thinking Together’s Becker are their late 80’s, and the Press takes great pride in being able help extend their work to new mediums and new audiences. According to Luck, the biggest challenge the Press faces in migrating to e-books is keeping up with constant shifts in platforms and technologies. In contending with various e-book formats and a growing plethora of readers, the old print model of publishing a book and being done with it (until it merits a new edition, at least) is over. Instead, content must be revisited quarterly to make sure it remains available across different platforms and devices. As for another seemingly great challenge—it’s getting writers to create more compact book titles. “Scholarly titles for manuscripts can run up to twenty words and we’ve been trimming those down,” she says. Books require less verbose titles and subtitles. “We ask authors to give us two to three main words, and we work from there,” she admits. “We do a lot of back and forth.”

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Date: Thursday, 26 Jun 2014 21:58

health journalism reception 2014

By Annenberg Public Affairs Staff

The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships at USC Annenberg  today announced journalism awards totaling almost $58,000 to support investigative and explanatory reporting projects on topics including the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; the disproportionate impact of prostrate cancer on African-American men in North Carolina; the health effects of pollution in Detroit and the Pacific Northwest; and the economic and human impact of Alzheimer’s Disease in South Florida.

Twenty-two journalists from around the country will receive reporting grants from the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism and the 2014 National Health Journalism Fellowship.  Six of the fellows also will receive community engagement grants as part of a pilot program to expand the reach and impact of their projects.

All 22 journalists will participate in USC Annenberg’s California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships – a series of seminars, workshops and field trips from July 13-17 on the University of Southern California campus. Since 2005, the program has educated more than 600 journalists on the craft and content of health journalism, with an emphasis on the relationship between health and place.

Each fellow returns home to complete a reporting project over the next six months to a year, with guidance from senior journalists. You can find 2014 national fellows’ blog posts on their planned projects here. Past fellows’ projects can be found here. Highlights of the fellowship week can be found here.

Among other topics the fellows will explore are: one state’s effort to wipe out Hepatitis C; the effects of a lack of running water and flush toilets on the health of thousands of Alaska Natives; and how the deinstitutionalization of people with developmental disabilities and mental illness has contributed to a number of untimely deaths in the South.

The Hunt fund honors the legacy of Dennis A. Hunt, a visionary communication leader at The California Endowment who was dedicated to improving and supporting high-quality reporting on the health of communities. Hunt died in a car crash in 2007. Friends and colleagues, the Hunt family and The California Endowment joined together to create and provide ongoing support for the Fund.

The Fellowships program is funded with a generous grant from The California Endowment, whose mission is to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians.

"Thanks to the vision of Dennis Hunt, the program has pioneered a new kind of health journalism that goes beyond coverage of medical care to explore the many ways in which community environments affect our well-being,” said Mary Lou Fulton, senior program manager for The California Endowment.  “Dennis' legacy will live on through the high-profile, high-impact reporting of this year's fellows."

Michelle Levander, founding director of the USC Annenberg/California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, which hosts the Hunt and national journalism programs, said, “We applaud the vision and ambition of this excellent group of reporters and their editors. They are tackling health stories that need to be told and that promise to make an enormous difference to their communities.”

Here are the 2014 grantees:

2014 Dennis A. Hunt Health Journalism Fund Grantees

Lisa Bernard-Kuhn, The Cincinnati Enquirer

Daniel Chang, The Miami Herald

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA Public Radio (Alaska)

Dan Gorenstein, Marketplace 

Bob Ortega, The Arizona Republic and La Voz Arizona

Mary Annette Pember, Indian Country Today and The Daily Yonder

Jay Price, The News & Observer (Raleigh)

2014 National Health Journalism Fellows

Arielle Levin Becker, The Connecticut Mirror

Tom Corwin, The Augusta Chronicle

Natasha Dado, The Arab American News

Timothy Darragh, The Morning Call

Frank Gluck, The News-Press

Kristin Gourlay, Rhode Island Public Radio

Kyle Hopkins and Mark Lester, Anchorage Daily News

Jazelle Hunt, National Newspaper Publishers Association

Samuel Murillo, La Voz Arizona

Kathleen O’Brien, The Star-Ledger

Madeleine Ostrander, The Nation and New America Media

Amanda Ramirez, Univision Atlanta

Susan Ruckman, Native Times

Veronica  Zaragovia, KUT Public Radio (Austin) and Radio Bilingue


Image courtesy of Albert Sabate.

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Date: Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 20:36

The PR/communication industry, boosted by increased budgets and staffing, is enjoying a healthier period and recovering from the recession, according to the eighth Public Relations Generally Accepted Practices (GAP) Study, which is published on a biennial basis by the Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center (SCPRC) at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

In 2014, 40% of public company respondents expected their PR/Communication budgets to increase over 2013 levels, while 25% expected no change and 35% expected decreases. In 2013, 60% experienced budget increases over 2012, while 17% experienced no change and 23% experienced decreases.  

Consistent with the improved budget scenario, the 40% of respondents experiencing staff growth in 2014 over 2013 outnumbered those expecting flat or reduced staff size; 38% reported staff growth in 2013 over 2012. Industries in which the majority of respondents expected staff growth in 2014 include energy, natural resources, finance, insurance, manufacturers/marketers of B-to-B products, professional services, retailing, and transportation/shipping.

In addition to reporting budget and staff growth, the study found that creating spreadable content is a top priority for the PR/Communications industry. According to the study: “The popularity of creating spreadable content, especially video, reinforces the belief that organizations are now their own media channel.”

The GAP study, generally considered to be the largest, most comprehensive of its type, also noted that the “use of Twitter as a corporate communication platform has grown dramatically. In contrast, the use of Facebook over the same period has remained flat.”

For the first time ever in the history of the GAP studies the most commonly cited rationale for working with PR and communications agencies was creative thinking, with, according to the study, the perennial winner – additional arms and legs – coming in second. “Objective and independent counsel” and “strategic insight” clustered just behind.

In addition, GAP VIII closely examined three indicators of PR/Communication's perceived role and contribution: participation in organizational strategic planning, the extent to which PR-related recommendations are taken into consideration by senior management, and the function's perceived contribution to financial success.

Almost 40% of respondents report that PR/Communication plays an active role in organizational strategic planning, 59% agree that PR/Communication's recommendations are taken seriously by senior management, while 44% agree that their senior leadership believes PR/Communication contributes to financial success.

These findings are important, say the study’s authors, because each of these three indicators strongly correlates with many positive outcomes and descriptors used by participants to describe their organizations, including "successful," "good external reputation," "innovative," and "proactive," among others.

Analyzing the results of the multiple GAP studies through the years, GAP authors see a trend: “Many companies are giving communication and reputational considerations a far greater role in organizational planning and decision making than was previously the case, and benefiting from that change. In this new environment PR/Communication is seen as a strategic asset affecting enterprise-wide policy and behavior, rather than in its far more limited, historical role as a purely tactical, secondary and largely marketing-driven function.”

Professor Jerry Swerling, director of the PR and Communication Center, emphasized: "While correlation doesn't prove causality, patterns that consistently link certain practices with certain positive outcomes, over multiple studies, shouldn't just be ignored. So, while we wouldn't say 'PR involvement in strategic planning leads to a better external reputation,' we are very comfortable saying 'Organizations in which PR is involved in strategic planning are more likely to have better external reputations due to a matrix of interrelated factors.' One of our goals is to better understand that matrix."    

A total of 347 senior communicators completed all 50 questions in the study, which was supported by all four of the leading U.S. professional associations in the field: Arthur W. Page Society, Institute for Public Relations (IPR), International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). GAP VIII was also supported by a financial grant from Edelman.

Download the GAP VIII report for free.  

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Date: Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014 17:45

By Anne Bergman

Students in the “Designing Media and Communication Projects for Social Change” course at the USC Annenberg School of Communication got the chance to put theory into practice this spring, strategizing a plan to help a community-based nonprofit improve outcomes for urban male youth in high school and beyond.

Co-taught by Professor Alison Trope and Annenberg fellow and Ph.D. candidate Melissa Brough, the course centered on the Social Justice Learning Institute (SJLI), which is based in Inglewood and focused on improving “the education, health, and wellbeing of youth and communities of color.”

“The partnership with SJLI fit squarely within Annenberg’s Diversity Initiative,” said Trope noting that this initiative is one of Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III’s top priorities. Trope also emphasized that “the class, and the partnership with SJLI more specifically, also speak to many civic engagement efforts” at both the communication and journalism schools at Annenberg. “This class allowed us to bring these efforts more formally into the curriculum and hopefully can serve as a model for this kind of theory-praxis hybrid,” she said.

And, since SJLI’s mission directly aligned with the course’s theme, it was an ideal fit for Trope and Brough as they organized COMM 366, which they’d recently retooled to encompass real world scenarios. Not to mention that many COMM 366 students – some of whom are the first in their families to pursue secondary education, according to Brough -- could directly relate to challenges facing SJLI youth.

All 16 students enrolled in the course collaborated on one comprehensive presentation, sharing their research and recommendations to SJLI staff members during finals week. They spent the semester interviewing youth currently enrolled in SJLI programs, SJLI alumni and staff, holding focus groups, as well as analyzing and contextualizing data.

Throughout the semester, a senior staff member of GOOD/Corps, the social impact consulting division of GOOD Inc., served as their mentor. GOOD/Corps originally identified SJLI as a candidate for pro bono consulting work, due to SJLI’s limited resources, yet crucial community work.

SJLI, which provides personal and academic development, emphasizing leadership roles for youth in their own communities, was viewed by GOOD/Corps, as well as Trope and Brough, as key to stemming the high rates of imprisonment and low rates of academic achievement among the population it serves.

For senior Siobhan O'Malley, a dual major in communications and psychology, formulating a “media strategy campaign and working with a nonprofit taught me how to incorporate research in a way that’s human-centered,” she said. “It was a people-focused way of going about the work, rather than just being focused on hard data or algorithms.”

Designing a human-centered communication strategy instead of one solely based on the latest digital tools and technologies was exactly what Brough hoped the students would implement in their final presentation. “We wanted to teach the students how not to jump to tech as a solution to all problems,” she said. “What happens when a platform like Instagram isn’t cool anymore? It was essential that the solutions the students came up with were focused on people, so they can be sustainable solutions.”

COMM 366 students identified various outcomes from the project for SJLI, developing strategies to help strengthen its Urban Scholars alumni and donor program, foster a feeling of brotherhood and further inspire their scholars to become leaders themselves within their communities.

Some of the recommendations were decidedly low-tech – such as suggesting that SJLI hold its meetings at community centers within local parks, which are easily accessible to students who live in different neighborhoods via public transit.

While other recommendations were high-tech based, they remained applicable across platforms, such as the use of specific hashtags to help filter their messages to myriad stakeholders – parents, counselors, administrators, policy makers, donors, supporters and the students themselves. (The # symbol is a way to categorize messages across social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.)

COMM 366 students recommended that #SJLEyes be used to tag posts across the social media platforms where SJLI has a presence: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Beyond tagging posts, the COMM 366 students also designed the hashtag to be fundamental to SJLI’s curriculum, with the idea that SJLI’s students could take what they are learning inside the classroom – such as which parts of the supermarket offer healthy food --  into the outside world, and be able to share and categorize these observations and insights via social media. COMM 366 students also discussed having the SJLI students employ Instgram in the context of learning or social justice, so they could see their neighborhoods and how they live (such as mundane tasks like going to the market) with fresh eyes based on what they’re learning about race, class, etc. in the classroom. 

“We plan to implement #SJLEyes into curriculum and at each of our school sites,” said Daniel Castillo, SJLI’s Educational Equity Programs Director. “Everyone on the outside can see what we’re doing, be in on what the students are learning, across campuses. This will bring everyone to the table, much more easily than phone calls and email.”

For Castillo, the partnership with USC Annenberg faculty and students was “absolutely important,” he said. “We often work in isolation. Usually we’re working on the ground, while there are those who are working above us analyzing what’s happening. But we’re never working in partnership to come up with better practices, to evolve our work and push it further.”

The class represented a chance for a grassroots organization to partner with a higher education institution, but it also held broad applications for the COMM 366 students themselves. In the end, many of the students clarified their career and personal goals while working together to achieve something meaningful.

For Modupe Alabi, herself an alumna of a high school mentoring program, the class was relevant to her future interest in earning “a PhD that focuses on international and social change development and arts innovation,” she said.

Alabi, a junior majoring in Communication at USC Annenberg, with a minor in Communication Design from USC Roski School of Art and Design, continued: “There were many moments I sat in class grinning at the realization of how perfect this class was for pointing me in the direction I'm hoping to go towards. It also assisted with career goals because the process of human-centered design is very relevant to the type of work I want to do. Even my current internship, as a communication/design intern for a human resources/ talent management department at Turner Broadcasting, allows me to draw on themes of behavior change and development communication from the class.”

The course also provided an opportunity for students push beyond the boundaries of the USC campus, Trope said, providing “a window into the communities that surround USC. Too often, students stay within the campus walls or drive off site to internships downtown, in Hollywood or the Westside. There are fewer curricular and internship opportunities that ask students to interface directly with the surrounding community.”

Trope and Brough structured the course so students could “understand and relate to the experiences SJLI students and alums. It was important that the students did not play the role of problem solvers with all the right answers,” said Trope. “They needed to be good listeners, to hear the needs of SJLI and its constituents, and respond to them, in turn fostering their agency.”

Overall, Trope said: “We wanted to make them sensitive and aware of their privilege as it manifested in their education, but also extended into their everyday lives, including things we take for granted like our use of technology.”

COMM 366 is scheduled to be taught again next spring, with possibly an extended reach, Trope said, to include a few satellite organizations. 

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Date: Monday, 02 Jun 2014 18:12

USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, School of Cinematic Arts and Keck School of Medicine collaborative “Transforming Cancer Knowledge, Attitudes & Behavior Through  Narrative” team has won the National Institutes of Health Common Fund 10-Year Commemoration Video Contest, receiving the most number of “likes” for their video on their Common Fund Research.  In addition, this research has also won the 2013 Top Translational Research Award, at the D.C. Health Communication Conference and the 2013   Annual American Public Health Association’s Public Health Education and Health Promotion Contest Award.

In 2010, Dr. Sheila Murphy (USC Annenberg) and Dr. Baezconde-Garbanati (from the Institute of Health Promotion and Disease Preventive Medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine) were awarded a Transformative R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health.  Transformative RO1s are designed to “accelerate the current pace of discovery” and “challenge the status quo with innovative ideas.”  The purpose of this 5-year grant was to challenge the underlying assumption that the traditional recitation of the facts is the optimal way to convey health-related information vs. the use of narratives.  This collaborative transdisciplinary team from USC (and including researchers at Portland State University and San Diego State University) of medical researchers, script writers, cinematographers, physicians, psychologists, communication scholars, and public health professionals created an intervention to re-examine and reinvent how health-related information is conveyed. 

Apart from the P.I. Dr. Sheila Murphy, other Annenberg members affiliated with this study include Professors Doe Mayer and Sandra Ball-Rokeach; Alumni Lauren Frank (PhD 2011), Meghan Moran (PhD 2009) & Joyee Chatterjee (PhD 2012); As well as current PhD students Nan Zhao and Angeline Sangalang. 

To empirically test whether utilizing a narrative format might produce a stronger and more sustained impact on knowledge, attitudes and prevention behavior compared to a non-narrative format, our team produced two short films each 11 minutes in length and both containing the same  facts regarding cervical cancer prevention, detection and treatment.  The Tamale Lesson conveys facts regarding the cause of cervical cancer, as well as how to prevent it (via the HPV vaccine) and detect it (via Pap tests) using the Romeo family’s preparation for their youngest daughter’s Quinceañera or 15th birthday as the narrative vehicle.  The non-narrative film, It’s Time, contains the same facts but uses a more traditional approach featuring doctors, patients, facts and figures. 

The results of this large scale field experiment revealed that the narrative was indeed more effective in increasing cervical cancer-related knowledge, attitudes and 6 months later at increasing rates of cervical cancer screening.  Moreover, the impact of narrative virtually erased the ethnic disparity that existed among the participants at baseline. Several papers have been published from this research including in the Journal of Communication (Murphy, Frank, Chatterjee, & Baezconde-Garbanati, 2013); International Review of Social Research (Moran, Murphy, Frank & Baezconde-Garbanati, 2013); Asian American Journal of Psychology (Zhao, Huh, Murphy, Chatterjee, & Baezconde-Garbanati, in press) ; and the California Journal of Health Promotion (Baezconde-Garbanati, Murphy, Moran, Cortessis, 2013).



Baezconde-Garbanati, L., Murphy, S. T., Moran, M. B., & Cortessis, V. K.  (2013).  Reducing the excess burden of cervical cancer among Latinas: Translating science into health promotion initiatives.  California Journal of Health Promotion. 11(1), 45-57.

Moran, M.B., Murphy, S.T., Frank., L., & Baezconde-Garbanati, L. (2013). The ability of narrative communication to address health-related social norms.  International Review of Social Research, 3(2), 131-49.

Murphy, S. T., Frank, L. B., Chatterjee, J. S., & Baezconde-Garbanati, L.  (2013). Narrative versus non-narrative: The role of identification, transportation, and emotion in reducing health disparities.  Journal of Communication. 63(1), 116-137. doi:10.1111/jcom.12007

Zhao, N., Huh, J., Murphy, S. T., Chatterjee, J. S. & Baezconde-Garbanati, L.  (In press) Self-construal as a predictor of Korean American women’s intention to vaccinate daughters against Human Papillomavirus.  Asian American Journal of Psychology.

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Date: Tuesday, 27 May 2014 23:11

Rosalie Murphy, USC Annenberg '14 has been awarded a Pulitzer Center International Fellowship for Reporting. The awards are given to students, studying at the Center's campus affiliates, for reporting projects that focus on topics and regions of global importance, with an emphasis on issues that have gone unreported or under-reported in the mainstream American media.

"The fellowship is a terrific opportunity for students interested in covering religion, politics and culture on an international scale," said Diane Winston, USC Annenberg Knight Chair in Media and Religion.  "Rosalie was in my class this year and during our reporting trip to India she found a topic to pursue further."

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting is an innovative award- winning non-profit journalism organization dedicated to supporting the independent international journalism that U.S. media organizations are increasingly less able to undertake. The Center focuses on under-reported topics, promoting high-quality international reporting and creating platforms that reach broad and diverse audiences.

Last year, USC Annenberg's Knight Program for Religion and Media and USC Dornsife College became part of the Pulitzer Center's Campus Consortium program. The focus for the USC-Pulitzer Center consortium is global religion.

The partnership kicked off formally in February 2014 with a two-day series on Pentecostalism, the world's most rapidly growing religion. Pulitzer Center grantees Bregtje van der Haak and Richard Vijgen were on hand along with Pulitzer Center Executive Director Jon Sawyer and Pulitzer Center information designer Dan McCarey.

In addition to visits to USC by Pulitzer Center journalists, a key part of the partnership is the award of at least one reporting fellowship per year to a USC student.

"We're thrilled by our partnership with USC and Rosalie's selection as our first reporting fellow from the university," Sawyer said. "The USC-Pulitzer Center partnership is a great step forward in broadening each of our efforts to cover religions around the world in greater depth."

Murphy, who graduated from USC in May, majored in History and Journalism and minored in Russian Area studies. The Akron, Ohio, native has been a USA Today intern and a member of the campus' Trojan Scholar Society. Her fellowship proposal evolved from a radio story she produced during the spring trip to India.

"I produced a radio story about Parsi intermarriage laws during a March trip to Mumbai," Murphy explained in her application, "and since, I've been fascinated by how the shrinking population changes the community's economics."

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Date: Friday, 16 May 2014 21:09

By Andrea Richards

Four years ago, 17-year-old Greg Asciutto arrived at USC Annenberg from the small town of Albemarle, North Carolina. He’d only applied to two universities, both of which accepted him, but he knew after his first visit to USC that it was the place for him. Since then, he’s had work published in five countries, won a Hearst award, traveled to Cuba and also worked in Annenberg’s Public Affairs and Special Events office for his entire undergraduate career.

On May 16 Asciutto graduated, along with 315 journalism school peers­—167 receiving Bachelor’s degrees, 148 Master’s.

“In the 6th grade he asked me for help with a word problem and I got it wrong—he never asked for my help with homework again,” his father, Peter Ascuitto, recounted as he waited with the hundreds of other proud parents in the 91-degree heat for the commencement ceremony to begin. In the final moments before the ceremony started, graduates braved the sun to reel in guests wandering the sea of white tents, their black gowns unzipped to beat the heat. Wedge sandals, bare legs, and leis made of crimson and gold orchids were the fashion of the day, and almost every woman, it seems, had a pair of flip-flops in her handbag. As Dean Wilson would exclaim in his opening remarks, the paper fans provided to faculty, graduates and guests were “the appropriate technology” for the day.

If heat and crowds put a dent in the crowd’s ability to use their gadgets—the flow of texts, selfies and even old fashioned phone calls slowed to a trickle due to network overloads—it was only a reminder that journalism is a profession built not on tools but on human fortitude and tenacity.

In his commencement address, Southern California Public Radio President Bill Davis urged the graduates to be there for each other during careers that will be both long and full of challenges. “You will get fired or laid off before you’re 30,” Davis said, even as he encouraged graduates to be optimistic about the future of media. His citation of a recent study that ranked newspaper as the worst possible career choice (below actor and parking meter attendant) was met with knowing laughter, the crowd too buoyant to be weighed down by such specifics. Davis reminded graduates that it was not only a command of digital technology that would allow them to “leap frog” those “condemned to pessimism,” but also their diversity.

Even as the larger media business roils, there was little pessimism under the tent; the graduates were ready to celebrate and everyone around them teemed with pride. As Barbara Ramirez, whose daughter Rachelle Ramirez received her Masters degree in Strategic Public Relations, exclaimed, “My baby girl never gave up on her dreams!”

No matter what comes next, for everyone who made an investment in these young graduates—from parents, to peers, to the actual Annenberg family (who Davis thanked in his remarks) —commencement was a moment to acknowledge how much had already been accomplished.

“It’s so surreal,” said Cherise Oaski, moments before she received her B.A. in Public Relations and Japanese. Soon, she’ll be moving to Tokyo, to work for a firm there. “I can’t believe how fast my time went here,” she said, looking wide-eyed to find herself at that unique, once-in-a-lifetime juncture between past, present and future: graduation.

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Date: Friday, 16 May 2014 20:47

By Anne Bergman

T Bone Burnett’s message to graduates of the USC Annenberg School of Communication was simple, yet powerful: “Knock ‘em alive,” he urged.

The iconoclastic music producer and songwriter spoke on May 16 as part of the University of Southern California’s 131st Commencement Ceremonies. In all, 660 degrees were conferred: 321 Bachelors, 320 Masters and 19 doctoral.

Families and friends of the soon-to-be graduates filled 4000 seats under a tent in McCarthy Quad, fending off the 91 degree heat with official Annenberg hand fans. Burnett’s music set the celebratory mood, as songs he produced for artists such as Los Lobos and Roy Orbison wafted in the background.

Once he took the stage, Burnett’s overall message to these new graduates remained upbeat, as he told the audience, “I have chosen to be optimistic because I believe that people can-- and even might-- make the smart decisions about the epic challenges we face.  If people are going to do that, it is going to be done through communication and with conscience. And I’m going to tell you this. I’m not kidding about this….You are the ones.”

USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III reflected on how Annenberg graduates are prepared for those epic challenges that Burnett described. “Here at Annenberg, you have learned both the time-honored fundamentals as well as the experimental concepts of the future,” he said.

The Dean went on to describe the meetings he’s held throughout the past two years with high-level executives and industry leaders inquiring about what they need to be successful in their organizations . “They didn’t answer that they needed more technology or money,” he said. “Rather, they answered that their missing ingredient is ‘extraordinary talent.’ And there’s a particular kind of talent that we really need: Communication skills. We are looking for people who know how to communicate.”

Concluding his remarks, Burnett told the new graduates that he wasn’t going to give them a lot of advice, but that he would “speak with you briefly from my experience of 50 years in the Arts.” Here is a list of what he shared:

·         In a mercantile society, the only control an artist has is negative control. Don’t be afraid to say no.

·         Keep your eyes open. Don’t avert your gaze.

·         Don’t tell people what they already know.

·         Don’t follow trends.

·         Make the most beautiful thing you possibly can.

·         Set strong boundaries.

For his part, Dean Wilson urged the new graduates to adhere to the words of philanthropist Walter Annenberg, who established the Annenberg School at USC: “‘Be of service to all people.’ As you go forth into the future, please carry that message for us.”

Dean Wilson also noted that by commencement 2015, the new Wallis Annenberg Hall will have debuted, along with new curriculum and programs, all “cutting-edge.”

Annenberg Vice Dean Larry Gross presided over the ceremony for the final time as director of the School of Communication. Next year, this duty will go to Sarah Banet-Weiser, as she takes the directorship this July.

“We are transitioning seamlessly from one star to another star,” Dean Wilson said. “Sarah’s a renowned scholar, award-winning author, and beloved teacher who will build on the foundation built by her predecessor. Larry has set my own standards, for he’s been an extraordinary leader and mentor.”

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Date: Thursday, 15 May 2014 20:26

By Michael Juliani

I met up with Emmanuel Martinez on the sun-baked patio at USC Annenberg at the end of April, a couple of weeks before he finished grad school. It’s not rare to find a journalist-in-training who can talk endlessly about his niche—in Martinez’s case, data journalism. But Martinez, who has been trained in essentially all forms of journalism--the most traditional to the most progressive--spoke about these forms with equal enthusiasm and nuance.

And beyond seeing them as separate genres of the craft, Martinez’s vision of journalism’s forms includes them all. He is driven by the idea of telling different versions of the same story in order to further our perceptions of it.  

Originally motivated by narrative journalism, Emmanuel Martinez (M.A. Print & Digital Journalism ’14) became obsessed with data journalism during his time at USC Annenberg. After graduation, he will start a Google Journalism Fellowship in June.

One of eleven students nationwide selected by Google, Martinez will work with the Center for Investigative Reporting during the ten-week fellowship, advancing techniques for data mapping and analytics.

On Friday, Martinez will graduate from USC Annenberg’s Master’s program in Print & Digital Journalism, the first member of his family to receive a graduate degree. His parents are originally from Mexico, and Martinez estimates that his father received the equivalent of an eighth grade education and his mother the equivalent of third grade.

“My parents have always told me that education is the most important thing,” Martinez said,. As first-generation Americans, Martinez and his siblings were the first members of his family to attend college. After getting his undergraduate degree from UC Irvine, Martinez knew he could become a stronger journalist after more study.

Martinez was raised in a town outside of Fresno called Sanger—a farming area, very rural. He studied literary journalism at UC Irvine, fascinated by longform radio on NPR’s “This American Life” and thinking he’d like to become a sportscaster on ESPN’s SportsCenter. He studied publications that put together story packages with multi-faceted forms, including Sports Illustrated’s piece “The Book of Tebow.”

When he arrived at USC Annenberg, he joined Annenberg Radio News, following his interests in radio storytelling from listening to NPR. He interned at KPCC. Meanwhile, he started familiarizing himself with forms of media that played into his inherent thirst for numbers and information. He found that he could connect his studies of data to what he learned about narrative storytelling in his classes that explored more traditional journalistic forms.

This led him to USC Annenberg Professor Dana Chinn, who teaches courses in data journalism. Emmanuel quickly learned the basics of spreadsheets and data analysis on his own, and he continually dropped by Prof. Chinn’s office to pick up packets of her class slides to read in addition to his regular course load.

“He started using what he was learning [from those slides] and applying them to his own stories he was doing in his regular reporting classes,” Chinn said.

Chinn said that Martinez’s incredible drive to learn more and more about analytics qualified him for the extremely competitive opportunity at Google, where he will be immersed in an environment of some of the best data analytics teams in the world. Martinez will spend the first week of the fellowship at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, then will move to the Center for Investigative Reporting for the remainder of the fellowship.

“Numbers and math had always come easily for me,” Martinez said. “Looking at spreadsheets and databases, mining stories from those, I started to learn how to make interactive journalism projects that combined analysis and interaction. Now that everything can be presented online, and audience is based on clicks rather than ratings, publications are figuring out how to keep readers on a web page, and interactive stories are what grabs them.” 

While math skills help with analytical thinking, Chinn said that the important basis for data journalists is the ability “to think in a quantitative way as well as qualitative. Most journalists have strengths in qualitative analysis…I think it does take a certain kind of mindset, like Emmanuel’s, to turn the data into a story. There’s that saying: no story without data and no data without a story.”

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Date: Monday, 12 May 2014 21:22

By Alex Reed

National Public Radio’s Guy Raz stopped by USC Annenberg on May 6 to share some pizza and thoughts with USC Annenberg students as a break from studying for finals.

Raz, who also spoke later that evening at USC Annenberg’s James L. Loper Lecture in Public Service Broadcasting, was introduced by USC Annenberg Professor Willa Seidenberg, director of Annenberg Radio News.

“He’s an inspiring person for students because he started at NPR as an intern and worked his way up with everything, all sorts of different jobs,” said Seidenberg. “He’s really seen a long evolution of public radio.”

Raz became an intern for NPR in 1997 on their news show “All Things Considered,” and his first job was as an assistant to news analyst Daniel Schorr.  

He left NPR for a two-year period to work as CNN’s Jerusalem correspondent, during which he said he learned a lot about television news. His initial impression was that it was very superficial, but came to understand that blending in allows people to focus on the reporting.

“In order for television to work, you can’t be distracting,” said Raz. “By nature, it’s superficial.”

However, Raz decided that television wasn’t for him and turned down a three-year extension at CNN to return to the United States and NPR. The only other time he left NPR was to study at Harvard University as a Nieman Journalism Fellow in 2008.

Raz is currently the host of TED Radio Hour, which was launched about a year ago and is a collaboration of NPR and non-profit organization TED.

“It’s a show about ideas,” said Raz, adding that “every show is more or less a version of the same show,” but the common factor is human beings.

In working on TED Radio Hour, Raz said he likes having the opportunity to cover a variety of topics. While he loves news, he also loves pop music. He joked about listening to Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” on his way over to USC.

“I love news. I don’t miss the negativity of news,” said Raz. “It’s important, it’s vital, but news can get you down.”

He also told students to try everything and figure out what they want and don’t want to do because almost nothing they do in their early 20s will affect them later in their careers.

“This is the time to fail, to make mistakes,” said Raz. “You are going to be in an experimental period.”

Raz said he was glad he didn’t grow up with Facebook because, according to him, Facebook is a highlight reel of someone’s life and he wouldn’t have wanted to know all the interesting things his friends were doing.

In terms of journalism, however, Raz said there has never been a better time to get into the field, despite what some people say.

“Information is currency. The idea that news is dead is nonsense,” Raz said.

According to Raz, today anyone can produce good content and get it published. While it may not reach millions of people, there are still opportunities where there weren’t before.

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Date: Thursday, 01 May 2014 17:14

Jarl Mohn, a member of the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism's Board of Councilors, was today named CEO and President of NPR.

Mohn joined the USC Annenberg Board of Councilors in 2004 and was Chair until this past October. William Elkus, Founder and Managing Director of Clearstone Venture Partners, is now Chair. (For a complete list of the USC Annenberg Board of Councilors, please visit this page.)

NPRs breaking news blog, The Two-Way, featured a quote today from Kit Jensen, chair of NPRs board of directors. Jensen said that Mohn has "an ability to find nuanced and new ideas."

"Jarl Mohn is a shining example of the innovation and the digital media leadership that we live, work and teach here at USC Annenberg," said USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III. "He's a great and inspired friend to the school's students, alumni, faculty and staff."

Mohn delivered a Commencement address at USC Annenberg in 2009. "I love the Annenberg School," he said, "and I'm proud to be on the Board of Councilors." Video of that speech is embedded below.

Mohn sits on the boards of a number of organizations - including analytics provider ComScore and Scripps Networks Interactive. His lengthy media CV boasts high-level stints at MTV, E! Entertainment Television (where he was president and CEO) and Liberty Digital, Inc., where Mohn was founding President.

Media reports on the announcement have characterized the appointment as a return, and, indeed, Mohn began his professional life as a radio DJ.

The current Chairman of Southern California Public Radio, Mohn replaces Gary Knell, who left NPR unexpectedly in August to lead the National Geographic Society.

Mohn is Chairman of Southern California Public Radio, and is also President of the Mohn Family Foundation, a key funder of KPCC. Mohn has also been a strong supporter of the arts in Southern California.

Mohn's most recent visit to USC Annenberg was less than two weeks ago, when he joined a hard-hat tour of the under construction Wallis Annenberg Hall.

This technologically transformative, 88,000-square-foot building located in the heart of the USC campus will feature a three-story media wall as well as professional-quality video, radio and vodcast studios and a digitally converged media center for the school's award-winning, student-run, online, broadcast television, documentary and radio news outlets and PR agency. USC Annenberg's current home, the modernist marvel designed by famed architect A. Quincy Jones, will remain an active academic building as well.

Related Video:

1 - May 15, 2009: Jarl Mohn, president of The Mohn Family Foundation and member of the USC Annenberg Board of Councilors, addresses 2009 graduates in communication, communication management, global communication and public diplomacy.

2 - December 4, 2009: Jarl Mohn at Entrepreneurship and the Community Web, held at USC Annenberg.

About the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Located in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is a national leader in education and scholarship in the fields of communication, journalism, public diplomacy and public relations. With an enrollment of more than 2,200 students, USC Annenberg offers doctoral, graduate and undergraduate degree programs, as well as continuing development programs for working professionals, across a broad scope of academic inquiry. The school's comprehensive curriculum emphasizes the core skills of leadership, innovation, service and entrepreneurship and draws upon the resources of a networked university in a global urban environment.

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Date: Thursday, 01 May 2014 17:14

Can you live without your mobile device – even for one day?

A survey by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future and Bovitz, Inc. found that nearly one‐third of respondents said if they left home without their mobile device, they would return for it no matter how much time was needed to get it.

Millennials (ages 18‐34) are even more connected to their mobile devices. Only 12 percent of Millennials would not return home for their mobile device regardless of the distance – much less than the percentage reported by users overall (23 percent).

The survey found that men are more attached to their mobile devices than women.

Survey background

The findings were developed from the Topical Survey (margin of error +/‐3.1%), a supplement to the Center for the Digital Future’s annual study that covers such issues as social media use, stress and technology, and norms regarding the presence of technology in social settings. Data was collected from 1,000 respondents via online survey between August 16-27, 2013.

The Center for the Digital Future

Since 2000, the Center for the Digital Future (digitalcenter.org) has examined the behavior and views of Internet users and non‐users in major annual surveys of the impact of online technology on America. The center also created and organizes the World Internet Project, which includes similar research with 37 international partners.

Bovitz, Inc.

Bovitz, Inc. (bovitzinc.com) is a design‐driven research and strategy firm that helps organizations uncover opportunity and drive innovation.

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Date: Tuesday, 29 Apr 2014 22:16

By Anne Bergman

The winners of the 2014 CRUNCH student design challenge literally had to hack their way to victory, a $10,000 prize and the distinction of becoming the Annenberg Innovation Lab’s official Start Up in Residence.

A culmination of the Annenberg Innovation Lab’s CRUNCH course in Digital Entrepreneurship and Design, the challenge was held on April 23 during an “Evening of Innovation” at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, where the Annenberg Innovation Lab (AIL) is housed.

Erin Reilly, the AIL’s creative director and research fellow, organized the evening as a way to celebrate the academic year’s  accomplishments, such as student work from Francois Bar’s Situated Engagement class; prototypes built out of last fall’s Edison Project “Think & Do on The New Screens” and further prototypes being built by other AIL Research Council members such as Gabriel Kahn.

But the evening’s drama centered on the six student teams representing a wide range of USC disciplines, who competed for votes in “real time” by the audience, composed of industry professionals, USC faculty members and fellow students. To spark the vote wrangling, each team set up a project display, gave a timed presentation and answered audience questions.

The team behind XCLU, a mobile app that allows independent music artists to stream video content to their personal websites, emerged victorious.  “It feels good to be able to wholeheartedly go into our venture,” said Brittany Jenkins, a USC Marshall student whose team garnered the most votes. “This summer we’re going to use the money to develop out the data and get key partnerships in line. Plus, being the startup in residence, we’ll be matched up with a mentor who will get us to the next stage of building it out and presenting it.”

The CRUNCH course is designed to provide a skill-based, business-oriented overview of product development for students in small teams (3-5 members). The 10-week course allowed students, who were provided $3000 for development costs, to take their ideas from concept to alpha testing in a single semester. Just gaining entry to the course involved competition, as teams vied to win CRUNCH hackathons held in Fall 2013 to earn priority admission.

But even without a victory, the journey was worth it for Gabriel Bernadett-Shapiro, a second year Masters student in Public Diplomacy at Annenberg. “[The CRUNCH course] provides a space where education is focused on goals rather than examination,” he said, noting that students and AIL faculty and staff collaborate on new processes and outcomes.

“This allows for a much more robust educational experience and one in which I felt lucky to participate,” continued Bernadett-Shapiro, whose team developed SNAPBasket, an app that provides low-income individuals with up-to-the-minute grocery pricing information. “Both Erin Reilly  and Andrew Schrock (AIL Research Assistant) were great mentors and focused our project by getting us to think critically about our goals and how we might reach them … and on what was absolutely essential about our project and the communities which it might serve.”

Like XCLU, the SnapBasket team plans to pursue their venture. “Our plan is to roll out the app in English, Spanish and Mandarin and expand to other languages to serve the specific needs of Los Angeles's varied demographics,” Bernadett-Shapiro said, noting that at the Evening of Innovation, “several people approached us and told us to follow up with them, I believe we made some great connections which will result in strong future partnerships. 

One of the most important parts of the evening for our team was when a young man came to our table and told us that he had grown up on food stamps and that he wished his family had access to this service when he was a kid. That for us really made the evening worth it.”

2014 CRUNCH teams:

XCLU Chelsea Foster, Brittany Jenkins, Josh Lev (Marshall), James Lin (Interactive Media) and Joel Suarez (Cinema)

SphereTEC  Carolyn Wee and Douglas Rose (Marshall), Charlie Benson (Cinema) and James Lynch (USC Viterbi)
Trail S
am Sagartz (USC Keck-Health Promotion), Andrew Poksay (Viterbi), Dylan Moore (Viterbi) and Brian White (USC Dornsife - Economics).
College Knowledge LA 
Vanessa Monterosa, Sharla Berry (USC Rossier) and Christopher Perez (CSULB, College of Education)
 Bessie Chu (Annenberg Communication Management), Catherine Peiper (Cinema) and Gabriel Bernadett-Shapiro (Annenberg - Public Diplomacy). 
Privacy Doctor
Nathalie Marechal (Annenberg - Communications) and Raj Saranyaraj  (Viterbi).
RePlant LA
Alex Zelenty, Althea Capra, Sonia Guggenheim (Cinema), Luna White (Dornsife-Sociology)


(Top photo by Brett Van Ort)

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Date: Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 23:16

By Senta Scarborough  

To provide a comprehensive look at prospects for the coexistence of religion and democracy post-Arab spring, a groundbreaking conference “Religion, Democracy and the Arab Awakening” will be held Friday, April 25 at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

The inaugural event for the USC Center for Islamic Thought, Culture and Practice, the Center will co-sponsor the conference along with the USC Knight Program in Media and Religion and GlobalPost, an online U.S.-based news company focusing on international news.

The “Religion, Democracy and the Arab Awakening” conference starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. and is open to the general public, scholars and journalists.

“This conference will exemplify the Center’s commitment to supporting and producing scholarly research and community engagement between Islam, Muslims and contemporary society, East and West, by bringing together experts and leading authorities who can speak to the ideals and realities of the modern Muslim world. Our goal is to help us better understand its present, and more sensibly anticipate its future,” said Sherman Jackson, director of the Center for Islamic Thought, Culture and Practice.

At the heart of the day’s discussions will be what is known as the “Arab Spring,” which began as a series of uprisings that toppled dictators in the region, including Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen.

“The depth and speed of change in the Middle East requires journalists to understand the region’s religio-political and cultural history,” said Diane Winston, a USC Annenberg professor and Director of the school’s Knight Program in Media and Religion. “This conference enables the next generation of reporters to learn from scholars, policy makers, activists and journalists who are well-respected experts in this area.”

World-renown scholar and lecturer, Tariq Ramadan, Oxford University Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies, will deliver the keynote speech at the conclusion of the daylong conference at 5 p.m. in the Annenberg Auditorium. Considered one of the most prominent Muslim intellectuals in Europe, Ramadan was named by TIME magazine in 2004 as one of the most important innovators of the 21st century. He is a significant contributor to the dialogue of Muslims in the West as well as Islamic revival in the Muslim world.

To start the conference, top editors and journalists will moderate most of the panel discussions. They include Nicholas Goldberg, editor of the editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times; Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, producer of Huffington Live; author Juan Cole, and Charles Sennott, co-founder of GlobalPost.

The panels include:  “The Impact of Social Media on the Arab Awakening,” “Christians in Jewish and Muslim States,” “Women and the Arab Awakening,” and “The Sunni-Shia Divide.”

Laurie Brand, a Robert Grand Ford Wright Professor, Professor of International Relations and Professor of Middle East Studies at USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, will also moderate an afternoon panel on “The Democratic Ideal Among Islamist Groups.” USC Annenberg’s Sandy Tolan, author of The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East” will join the panel “Christians in Jewish and Muslim States” moderated by journalist Amy Wilentz.

The panels will be open to the public and held at USC Annenberg. For details and to RSVP, click here or visit: http://annenberg.usc.edu/Events/2014/140425ReligionDemocracyArabAwakening.aspx

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Date: Tuesday, 22 Apr 2014 20:01

By Olivia Niland
Student Writer

Journalists gathered at the USC Davidson Conference Center on April 11 for the presentation of the 2014 USC Annenberg Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting.

This year’s award was won by a team from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, whose “Deadly Delays” series documented how delays in newborn screenings at hospitals across the country put babies at risk for disability and even death.

At $35,000, the Selden Ring Award is one of the largest awards in journalism. It honors journalists and investigative work that informs the public about major problems or corruption in society.

“Good journalism should increase civic engagement,” said USC Annenberg School of Journalism Interim Director Michael Parks. “If it doesn’t, you have to ask yourself, ‘Why did you do it?’ or more appropriately, ‘What else should you have done?’

“At Annenberg we advocate solutions-based journalism,” he said. “I think that’s what good journalism does, and particularly what good investigative journalism should do.”

In attendance were Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editor Martin Kaiser, managing editor George Stanley and reporter Ellen Gabler, who Parks described as “one of the most dogged reporters I’ve ever met.”

“Basically what I did for two or three months was just negotiate with state health officials,” said Gabler. “I’ve never been more persistent or more organized in my life.”

During the course of their investigation, the team analyzed nearly three million newborn screening tests from across the country. Gabler requested newborn screening data from all 50 states, though she eventually received data from 31, and hospital names from 26, due in part to the fact that some states feared the backlash that could result from disclosing hospital names.

“A lot of these people just thought I was going to go away,” said Gabler of the challenges she faced attempting to attain data from all 50 states. “But I just kind of refused to take no for an answer.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel team created an interactive map to illustrate the data they received and identify where there is still room for improvement.

“I think the reason we got such quick results is because we held people accountable,” said Gabler.

This year marked the 25th anniversary of the Selden Ring Award, which was established in 1989 by late business leader and philanthropist Selden Ring, and receives continued support from the Ring Foundation. Cindy Miscikowski,  CEO of The Ring Group, also spoke at the awards ceremony.

“This year’s award-winning story is really profound,” said Miscikowski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigative reporting, which was selected from 61 entries from across the country. “I can’t remember [reading] one that has brought me to some of the emotional levels that this story did.”

The series was inspired by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Mark Johnson’s story about Colton Hidde, a baby whose life was endangered by a metabolic disease that could have been detected had his newborn screening not been delayed. Thankfully, Colton survived, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel team realized the problem could be more widespread than many realized.

“We’re not afraid to go big,” said Gabler. “We knew this could be more than just one story about one kid who almost died.”

For Gabler, the Selden Ring Award exemplifies the fact that there is still a place, and a need, for comprehensive investigative journalism. 

“I love how [the Selden Ring Award] encourages people to do this kind of work,” said Gabler. “You can absolutely do this kind of work especially if you have great bosses and work hard to do it, so I think the Selden Ring is a great award in that it encourages that.”

As a result of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation, Washington State recently passed a law requiring public disclosure of newborn screening data, and other states will also begin posting their data online, said Gabler.

“We had results throughout the country right away,” said Gabler. “In a lot of these cases there were really simple fixes.”

Having already earned seven other major national awards for “Deadly Delays,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editor Martin Kaiser referred to the Selden Ring Award as the series’ “capstone.”

The team hopes this success will draw attention not just to the issue of newborn screening, but also to how important it is for journalists to be able to do the kind of reporting which made the series--and its findings--possible.

“One thing I felt really lucky for about working at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is that we have great editors who aren’t afraid to elevate the story,” said Gabler. “I wish more newsrooms would do that, to realize when you have a big story, and not just say, ‘oh you get two weeks to do this, or you get a month to do this.’ This took a long time. You really need to be patient because it really pays off in the end.”           

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Date: Monday, 21 Apr 2014 21:50

Above image: USC Annenberg graduate Mike Critelli discussing a scene with From the Rough Director Pierre Bagly (From the Rough Productions)

By Senta Scarborough

USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism alumnus Mike Critelli wasn’t the likeliest of candidates to pen From the Rough, an inspirational family sports film hitting screens nationwide this week.

The 27-year-old screenwriter prefers to write edgier Coen brothers or David Lynch-style films and wasn’t always a big fan of sports.

Still, Critelli not only wrote the screenplay for his first film, but also served as a producer who was instrumental in the creative direction of the independent feature from casting to post-production.

From the Rough is inspired by Dr. Catana Starks’ true journey from swim coach to first African American female golf coach of a NCAA Division 1 college men’s team. Career highlights include an all-time record at The PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship and coaching Tiger Woods’ former swing coach.

FTRThe film is being released on Friday (April 25) and features two Academy Award nominated actors—Taraji P. Henson, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” as Coach Starks and the late Michael Clarke Duncan, “The Green Mile,” as the coach’s confidant. This is among Duncan’s last films.

A famous British face, Thomas Fenton, best known for playing Draco Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” movies, takes on the role of a charming but rebellious international student golfer.

Starks’ challenge, a woman creating Tennessee State University’s men’s golf team, sets the film’s backdrop.

Faced with a lack of resources and players, Starks is forced outside the confines of the historically black university to recruit underprivileged students with raw potential from around the world.

Starks finds only one African-American player to join the team, a former caddy with talent but no confidence. To win, he must overcome his insecurity of competing against the players whose clubs he once carried.

“My goal was to pull out what is exciting in sports,” Critelli said. “It’s about getting past whatever barriers and internal struggles you have and connecting with each other.”

This spirit comes from the real-life coach who in her youth overcame asthma, at a time before treatments, to play sports.

“I had two inspirations growing up-- my mom and grandmother. The doctors said I couldn’t be an athlete but they wouldn’t let me be limited by circumstance,” Starks, now 69 and retired, said. “They encouraged me and I played all the sports I could.

“This is a movie for families. Something you can talk to your kids about-- never giving up and always trying,” Starks said.

It’s been a family affair all along. In 2004, Critelli’s father, Michael J. Critelli, a former Pitney Bowes CEO and National Urban League chairman, first discovered the story through his younger son’s chess coach who was one of Stark’s international recruits.

For years, Critelli Sr.’s attempts fell short of developing a screenplay that embraced his passion of exposing discrimination and encouraging inclusiveness.

Finally, at the start of 2009, he turned to his then 22-year old son to give it a shot. 

Critelli had just graduated the year before from the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism where he learned an appreciation of sports and gained the skills that helped him create the film.

“I always loved watching sports movies like the Mighty Duck and Cool Runnings when I was kid but I wasn’t a huge sports fan until I got to USC. I was there during the Pete Carroll era and fell in love with the football program,” Critelli said.

Critelli chose Annenberg to study at one of the top schools of its kind.

“I view communication and its study as the cornerstone of almost everything I do,” Critelli said. “Communication as an academic subject is focused on theories and experiments involving the way people interact with large groups, small groups, individuals and themselves.  Whatever I’ve learned is always in the back of my mind. If writing dialogue isn’t coming naturally, I always have theory to fall back on.”

Annenberg Associate Professor Ken Sereno who taught persuasion, human interaction and communications theory classes provided a solid overview of the way people communicate and influence each other, Critelli said.

“Ken Sereno was great in that he taught potentially dense material with warmth and humor. Since they tended to be the foundational classes for the program, he helped prepare me for everything else,” Critelli said.

In one class, Critelli gave a presentation on nonverbal cues as they relate to power that helped him in the making of the film.

“Power cues would inform the way I wrote characters who were powerful or attempting to display power like actor Henry Simmons as the Athletic Director Kendrick Paulsen Jr. in the film,” Critelli said.

After numerous drafts and with a final script in hand, the father and son team pitched the screenplay. No one would take a chance on a golf film starring an African-American female.

In a last-ditch effort in early 2010, they sought help from an Urban League friend, Pierre Bagley, a documentary filmmaker who later became the film’s director. Bagley suggested they work together to make the movie.

“Up to that point our goal was to sell the project. I don’t think we ever thought we could make it ourselves,” Critelli said. “He gave us the confidence to go forward as filmmakers.”

That’s when Critelli decided to visit TSU’s campus and meet Starks.

Initially, the story was more of a  “fish out of water” tale focusing on the student players until Critelli interviewed Starks. He knew then that this was her story.

“She has an knack for inspiring people. She is quite humble and didn’t appreciate how remarkable her story was,” Critelli said. “Meeting her gave the screenplay clarity and helped crystallize what we were trying to do.”

And, what had initially been a hurdle, the unique roles for African-American actors, became a casting selling point.

“We got a lot of interest from big stars and international talent because of great roles that don’t come around very often,” Critelli said. “The cast and crew were incredibly supportive and their dedication is what made this film happen.”

Duncan’s performance completely broadened the role.

“He had such personal gravity that we couldn’t ignore it,” Critelli said of Duncan. “He was a great professional, mentored the younger actors and always wanted to get it right.”

Meeting Duncan and the rest of cast was a “great thrill” to Starks who also attended several screenings to help promote the film.

“I had no idea it would be as big as it turned out to be,” said Starks. “When I saw people coming out, I saw some had tears in their eyes and it felt wonderful.”

Making the film has been an “eye opening” education and especially rewarding creating a movie others wouldn’t take a chance on, Critelli said.

He discovered a love for films that “celebrate everyday people ” and hopes to make more in the future.

“It’s a fun family movie and they don’t come around much anymore,” Critelli said. “I hope the film does reach kids and inspires them the way those sports movies did for me.”

For more information about the film, check out www.fromtherough.com

Related stories:

- Dan Birman releases documentary on aviator Bob Hoover
- USC Annenberg study examines gender parity among Sundance Film Festival filmmakers

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Date: Monday, 14 Apr 2014 18:47

By Alex Reed

When Daniel Ellsberg released the infamous Pentagon Papers, detailing the United States’ political and military involvement in Vietnam, in 1971, he was the first American to be indicted under the Espionage Act for non-spy related activity. He has since been labeled a whistleblower.

On Tuesday night, Ellsberg and fellow whistleblowers Jesselyn Radack and Thomas Drake spoke on a panel moderated by USC Annenberg Professor Robert Scheer about the importance of unveiling government wrongdoing.

“This is a conversation about what I consider to be one of the most important issues in the country and the world today,” said USC Annenberg Professor Geoffrey Cowan while introducing the panel to a packed auditorium of students and faculty.

The panel was part of a two-day stop at USC Annenberg on the Government Accountability Project’s American Whistleblower Tour, which aims to educate people on the “phenomenon and practice of whistleblowing.” 

Radack, who is a national security and human rights attorney for GAP, came to be known as a whistleblower after revealing an ethics violation made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the interrogation of American Taliban Member John Walker Lindh.

As an ethics adviser for the Department of Justice at the time, Radack advised the FBI against the immediate interrogation of Lindh without a lawyer present. Radack’s advice was concealed during Lindh’s trial and Radack was later investigated for copying and leaking the emails about the Lindh interrogation to the press.

After a lengthy battle with the Department of Justice, Radack decided to dedicate her life to defending whistleblowers.

She and Drake were also quick to point out that the terms “whistleblower” and “leaker,” often used synonymously when referring to the release classified information, have very different meanings.

“[Radack] recognized the absolutely crucial distinction between leaking, which is not in the public interest, and whistleblowing, which is,” said Drake.

This distinction, made by Radack in a 2010 Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times, was what convinced Drake that Radack and GAP should represent him when he was indicted under the Espionage Act in 2010 for allegedly mishandling classified documents surrounding a costly National Security Agency program.

Drake was the second person, after Ellsberg, to be indicted for non-spy related activity under the Espionage Act, and the first under the Obama Administration.  Radack had assumed that Drake’s case was isolated, however, under the Obama Administration, eight people have been charged with espionage for mishandling information that the government deemed classified.

“The government is deliberately going after targeted individuals, like they targeted me, to send a much larger message to anyone else that might dare come forward,” said Drake. “They’re shutting down the free flow of information that informs the public of what’s going on.”

After Ellsberg and Drake’s cases, it has grown more difficult and dangerous for whistleblowers to get information to the public.

“My view is that it speaks volume that the only safe way to blow the whistle right now if you’re in National Security or Intelligence and know that level of information, the only safe way is to blow the whistle from another country,” said Radack, in reference to her client Edward Snowden, who released thousands of classified government documents last year to journalists he met with in Hong Kong.

However, the panelists all agreed that the government’s crackdown on whistleblowing reveals an even greater need for people willing to expose the truth in the public interest.

“We need more oversight, we need the independent presses and we need whistleblowers,” said Ellsberg.

He added that one way this can happen is if we change how whistleblowers are viewed by the public.

In reference to the title of the event, “Patriot or Traitor? Whistleblowing and Journalism in the Age of Government Surveillance,” Ellsberg said that “not many people would like the opportunity to defend themselves against being a traitor.”

Ellsberg, who said that he identifies with Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, has never viewed whistleblowing as traitorous.

Radack added that all journalists should use encryption in order to protect their sources, no matter the level of secrecy, but she does hope that, with the help of whistleblowers, we can still “reign in the national security surveillance state.”

“I still believe that we can recover our democracy from the police state that it’s becoming,” said Radack.


(Photo by Gus Ruelas)

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