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I'm an assistant professor at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, where I teach and research how news sites can better reach their audiences. I received my Ph.D. from the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri where I was one of the founding editors of MyMissourian.com, a citizen journalism site for Columbia, Mo. Before graduate school, I worked as a community newspaper editor in Southern Utah and Southern California.

WJMCR: Web research that takes advantage of the Web

One of the first articles that piqued my interest in journalism research was “The Internet Provides Both Opportunities and Challenges for Mass Communication Researchers” by Ohio University Drs. Guido H. Stempel III and Robert K. Stewart. The essay, which appeared in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly in 2000, inspired me because it argued the online researchers will determine how much impact online research will have. These were also the same men who started an online journal in 1998.

A lot has changed since then, but for me, it feel like my life has come full circle.

Drs. Stempel and Bob Stewart have asked me to help edit the Web Journal of Mass Communication Research. I’m doing the Web work, coding submissions in HTML. Dr. Stempel still works with the authors and passes manuscripts to reviewers, and he’s infinitely more qualified to do that than I am. Dr. Stewart created the Web templates I’m using, and while simple, they are effective. I like the clickable footnotes and the separate footnote window on the bottom.

Even if it is in a small role, I’m excited to work on the journal because it’s exposing me to more online communication research, and I’m hoping that one day I can enhance the journal by adding a bit of my Web expertise.

I completed my first issue last Friday. It features “Engaging in Risk-involved Online Activities: Recognizing the Impact of Knowledge and Experience,” a study by Hye Jin Yoon that draws upon many of the same theories I used in my dissertation. I’m glad to see someone else exploring the impact of self-efficacy and experience on how people choose to interact online.

I’ve already started coding May’s article on my desk. The goal is to publish once a month for the foreseeable future. I’m hoping to automate some of the process in Dreamweaver so we can keep that goal, but it also depends on the submissions we receive. I don’t want to overstep my role this early, but I do want to plug the journal a bit. Flip through the back issues to find some compelling manuscripts from well-known journalism and communications researchers.

I was lucky to participate in one of those studies as a graduate student. I helped find sites to study and write some of the questions for the content analysis that was the basis for “Examining the Features, Policies, and Resources of Citizen Journalism: Citizen News Sites and Blogs” by¬†Stephen R. Lacy, Daniel Riffe, Esther Thorson, and Margaret Duffy. That’s just one example of the kinds of studies and authors the journal attracts.

At this year’s AEJMC conference in Denver, Dr. Stewart and I hope to speak with some deans and faculty members for testimonials on how the Web journal fits with the tenure process. I’ve also already thought about setting up a Twitter account for the journal, just to let researchers know when a new issue is available. I also plan to contact a few of the other participants at the “How Far Have We Traveled?” convergence conference I just attended to encourage them to submit.

If you have any ideas or submissions for the journal, please let me know. I’ll pass them on to Drs. Stempel and Stewart, and I’ll make sure they get the most robust code I can muster.

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