I haven’t blogged much this summer because I’ve been hard at work on a research project, funded through a Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Grant at Linfield. The grant has given me the chance to purchase magazines for analysis and — best of all — hire a terrific student research assistant, Jaimie L. McDonald, for the summer. Jaimie is a Mass Communication and Music double major at Linfield and is a talented singer and writer.
The project is focused on a topic I’ve been interested in for some time — the role of city magazines in their local areas. I have long been curious about how these magazines define their communities, unite their readers around a common local identity, and inform them (or not) about local issues and events. This summer, we’ve been working on content analysis of both the magazines themselves and their Twitter efforts.
Two components of this large, multi-method project are going to debut next week. One aspect of this research looked just at the coverage of local environmental topics in these city magazines, which — unfortunately — turned out to be rather scarce. However, I was pleased to also find some examples of environmental stories that both match city magazines’ typical style and do a good job of informing readers. Jaimie and I will present this component of the research in a poster session at the Ecological Society of America conference in Portland next week. I’m very excited about sharing this interdisciplinary work, and particularly about being able to offer some recommendations for scientists for outreach to city magazines.
I am also presenting next week at the AEJMC conference in Chicago (it’s going to be a hectic week!) on a panel focused on Social Media and Magazines. There I’ll discuss my analysis of city magazines’ Twitter outreach, and examine ways that their uses of social media may actually reflect a significant shift in their local functions.
I’ll share more of the products of this research here as I get them wrapped up. In the meantime, I would love to hear questions or comments on these topics!