Fellowship to study media's role in sports with grant funding

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The Texas Program in Sports and Media granted $25,000 in fellowships to fund research projects on sports and media, the first of their kind for the program.

The program raised $25,000 to grant fellowships to five different research teams from University funds, College of Communication funds and donors, said Texas Program in Sports and Media executive director Michael Cramer in an email. The research projects will contribute to the developing field of sports and media, said program manager Christopher Hart.

“The cultural footprint of sports and media is vast,” Hart said. “For unknown reasons, there hasn’t been near the level of scholarship as there has been in other culturally significant areas.”

The research teams applied for the program in the middle of April and were officially chosen in May. All five teams that applied were granted fellowships and belong to various schools in the College of Communication.

Professor Tracy Dahlby was granted $5,500 to study the Cleveland Indians, the first Major League Baseball team to offer exclusive seating for social media journalists. Avery Holton, a graduate journalism student working under Dahlby, said this policy is different from those of other Major League Baseball teams.

“Basically, Major League Baseball has been very slow to adapt to social media producers,” Holton said in an email. “They’re somewhat ignoring social media producers who could provide valuable exposure.”

Holton said the grant money will help pay for trips to Cleveland. He said the project will help the researchers learn how sports teams can profitably work with social media and how the Cleveland Indians’ policies will affect the rest of the league.

Associate journalism professor Renita Coleman was granted $5,000 to study how photojournalists’ gender impacts sports coverage. Coleman will supervise Carolyn Yaschur, the graduate student who came up with the research idea after speaking to a former boss about who would fill her position.

“He made this offhand comment: ‘Well, men and women just shoot differently,” Yaschur said. “To my knowledge, there’s no research out there investigating the differences between the way men and women photojournalists shoot, and in particular, the way men and women cover sports visually.”

Yaschur said understanding how gender impacts photojournalism is important in today’s visual society.

“Because we’re such a visually dominated society, we’re bombarded with images all the time,” she said. “The factors that come into how photojournalists make their photos are important because it impacts our perspective of the world as viewers.”

Other projects include the creation of digital media archives for football programs in Dallas and El Paso, research on how media coverage of football affects future players’ expectations and an exploration of how parents’ control of sports watching on TV affects childrens’ views of
sportsmanship.