Social media use analyzed at upcoming colloquium speaker series

Molly Spillman

Social media use analyzed at upcoming colloquium speaker series

The Kent State University School of Communication Studies is continuing their colloquium speaker series this Friday, March 3 at 4 p.m., with a focus on broadcast journalism’s use of social media. The event is being held in Room 109 of the Art Building.

The event, “Mourning broadcast: Social media use following the WDBJ shooting,”  will feature a research presentation and a question and answer session with the audience afterward. This is the second event in the four part series happening throughout the semester and is free and open to all students.

Gretchen Dworznik, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will be speaking on her research findings on the photographer and reporter who were shot on-air at a television station in Roanoke, Virginia. Dworznik specifically looks at the hashtag that emerged after the live attack.

“There was a hashtag that was being used by broadcast journalists that said ‘#WeStandWithWDBJ,’” Dworznik said. “They were tweeting all sorts of messages that were showing solidarity among broadcast journalists.”

The studies were conducted in partnership with Rekha Sharma, an assistant professor in communication studies at Kent State, and looked at the hashtag on Twitter, as well as Facebook.

“We wanted to see if there were any differences based on which tool or platform they were using to express their thoughts and feelings,” Sharma said. “(We examined) what themes emerged, whether there were different tones or purposes to their communication and whether they were primarily concerned with addressing the public or one another.”

Dworznik said it’s important for students in the College of Communication and Information to understand the power of social media in this digital age.

“Social media can be used not just (in ways) people use it every day,” Dworznik said, “but for something like solidarity building and grieving. It (the hashtag) was essentially a group grief.”

This situation has redefined how the public communicates between their private and public life. By researching it, communicators can better define how people react in times of crisis and grief.

“These journalists were juggling personal and professional roles when they crafted their messages,” Sharma said. “They were dealing with a lot of emotions and relational issues while still trying to fulfill their public roles as journalists.”

The next session, led by Erin Hollenbaugh, an associate professor in the School of Communication Studies at Kent State Stark, will be held on April 14. The event will cover privacy management on social media websites.

For more information, visit the School of Communications Studies’ website.

Molly Spillman is the CCI reporter, contact her at [email protected]