With today’s constant news cycle and political polarization, mass media and communication continues to become a much discussed topic across the country. At TCNJ, one Communication Studies professor in particular has had a busy year analyzing various topics within the discipline.
Professor of Communication Studies Paul D’Angelo has become an internationally recognized scholar, in part from his work in advancing news framing analysis.
“A major thrust of news framing deals with how journalists cover — and contextualize — policy issues as they develop in political discourses, such as legislation and campaigns. When covering politics, journalists circulate the words, catchphrases, and themes legislators, activists, and other sources use to frame issues,” explains D’Angelo, who has published two landmark edited volumes on news framing since 2009. “In order to tell compelling stories — and maintain professional autonomy from their sources — journalists also add their own frames of reference, which oftentimes reflect the structural orientations of news values, such as highlighting conflict and deciphering political strategy. These frames create the platforms that people use to understand issues.”
This year, D’Angelo became a book review editor for Journalism and Mass Communications Quarterly, a widely read academic journal that has been publishing since 1924. As a book review editor, D’Angelo says his job mostly deals with gatekeeping and selecting a number of books for commissioned reviews.
“I try to get about 20 reviewers every quarter, which turns out to be 60 reviews in a year,” says D’Angelo. “It sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t that many when you consider how many books are published in the areas of journalism and mass communications.”
The esteemed professor was also invited to speak during the 2020 International Journal of Press and Politics Conference held in September. The fifth annual conference was held virtually this year and ran out of the University of Loughborough, England.
D’Angelo’s presentation centered around the joint project he has been working on for several years with Erik Bucy, a colleague from Texas Tech. The idea for this project was to take a closer look at how journalists cover scandals that occur within newsrooms–that is, within journalism itself, explains D’Angelo.
“Our question was, what happens when the scandal originates from inside journalism?” saysD’Angelo. “When there is an issue of plagiarism or an issue of sexual impropriety within a news organization, how do journalists hold themselves accountable?”
D’Angelo and Bucy analyzed eight different journalism scandals in the U.S. and U.K. within the last five to six years.
“We took a small slice of each scandal and had to open it up in a couple of different ways in order to answer the question of accountability,” says D’Angelo. “We looked at the focusing event, the immediate aftermath and we tried to figure out how news organizations hold themselves and other news organizations accountable.”
D’Angelo says the concept of how news organizations frame themselves as being accountable for when crises occur is known as accountability framing.
In addition to his busy research schedule, D’Angelo is a passionate professor whose mission is to help students find relevance and applicability within the field of communication. This past semester, D’Angelo taught the Introduction to Communication course, where he created discussions and assignments that would enable students to relate the theories they learned outside of the classroom.
“I want my students to be able to apply what they have learned in class to real life,” says D’Angelo.