School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Computer science and UM School of Journalism and New Media researchers combat health disinformation

Posted on: January 9th, 2019 by ldrucker

Two UM professors received an interdisciplinary research grant to develop an automated method for identifying health disinformation in the news.

Naeemul Hassan, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Computer Science and Information Department, and Kristen Swain, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Journalism and New Media, received one of the first Big Data Flagship Constellation seed grants in January.

“Even though trusted, reliable media outlets do spread health misinformation, most intentional health disinformation originates from unreliable media sources,” Swain said. “There is little existing research on health disinformation patterns in social media. We hope to uncover how health news framing is exploited to spread disinformation and then develop algorithms to help journalists, readers and news providers differentiate credible health news from disinformation.”

In their one-year project, “CHORD: Combating Health Oriented Disinformation,” the professors plan to build and analyze a large-scale repository of print and broadcast health news stories that appeared on social networking sites. Then they will analyze media content patterns across reliable and unreliable stories and identify network characteristics and engagement patterns among readers in different age groups. Finally, they will conduct reader surveys and focus groups to identify health disinformation challenges.

The project synthesizes applied natural language processing, big data, network analysis and media content analysis, Hassan said. The team ultimately hopes to develop a computer program that can automatically identify health disinformation, as well as recommendations for new policies to discourage health hoax propagators.

Kristen Swain, Ph.D.

The team initially will develop a scraper program to automatically collect articles from media sources’ websites, automatically separate health-oriented news articles from non-health articles, and gather social media engagement metrics, such as comments, shares and likes for each article. Algorithms also will identify story characteristics including headlines, bylines, leads, captions, video and other images, topics, sourcing patterns, factual and opinion statements, and quote types.

Reliable sources will include CNN Health, Cancer.gov, WebMD, etc., and unreliable sources will include sites like REALfarmacy.com and HealthNutNews. Unreliable story characteristics include disease mongering, vague sourcing, and failure to identify financial conflicts of interest.

Previously, Hassan developed a data collection program that curated about 66,000 news articles from 27 reliable media outlets and 20 unreliable outlets. The preliminary findings helped him design the new project.

“We hope to identify new recommendations for journalists who cover health topics and develop a computer application to provide instant feedback on their draft stories,” Swain said. The new computer application also could help commercial third-party news aggregate applications such as Yahoo News, Flipboard and Bundle News automatically flag health disinformation that should be removed from news feeds.

Naeemul Hassan. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

After completing the content analysis, the team will model reader behaviors by interviewing young people and seniors who read, share and engage with health stories, Hassan said. To explore whether age, gender, education level and news consumption behaviors predict susceptibility to health disinformation, the team will conduct focus groups of readers younger than 18 and seniors 65 and older. They will use the Amazon Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing service to collect feedback about the middle-range readers ages 18-64.

“We hope our findings will inform development of new media literacy educational materials to help people of all ages learn how to identify health disinformation,” Swain said.

The 2019 seed grant will support a computer science graduate assistant in spring 2019 and a journalism graduate assistant in fall 2019. In 2020, the team plans to produce conference presentations, scholarly articles, and an external grant proposal.

The Flagship Constellation initiative, now in its second year, supports interdisciplinary research projects at UM and UMCC that focus on big data, community wellbeing, disaster resilience and brain wellness. In November 2017, UM alums Thomas and Jim Duff contributed $1 million, which supports the constellation grant competitions.

“If our study can reduce the number of people believing in health disinformation, this could improve the overall health condition of people throughout Mississippi and the U.S.,” Swain said.

University of Mississippi journalism professor’s Black Mirror Project mentioned in Harvard Political Review

Posted on: January 1st, 2019 by ldrucker

Last week, Netflix dropped the first feature film released by the popular, science fiction anthology series “Black Mirror.” “Bandersnatch” is the story of a “programmer creating a video game based on the fantasy novel of an unhinged genius,” Mashable reports.

This is exciting to fans and some University of Mississippi students because the UM School of Journalism and New Media has its own class that incorporates episodes of “Black Mirror.”

Harvard Political Review recently mentioned The Black Mirror Project created by a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media journalism professor that envisions the future of media through the lens of the science fiction television series.

After learning about the history of media, professor LaReeca Rucker asks students in Journalism 101 to envision the near future of media after watching several specific episodes of the series. They are asked to use their imagination to write a synopsis of their own “Black Mirror” episode. The most creative and original responses are published on The Black Mirror Project website: https://blackmirrorideas.wordpress.com/

“Black Mirror” is a British science fiction television anthology series set in the near future that explores the potentially dark consequences of technology and social media. Each episode has a different cast with a unique story and, like most science fiction, it offers a speculative warning about what could happen if we lose control and allow technology to control us.

The show, created by Charlie Brooker, was first broadcast on British television in 2011. It is now a Netflix original series, and some have called it a modern day “Twilight Zone.” Recognizing its potential for the discussion of modern and future media, some colleges and universities across the country have incorporated “Black Mirror” into their journalism and communications classes.

 

Harvard Political Review recently published the article Primetime Paranoia that mentions Rucker’s “Black Mirror” Project. The article explores “Black Mirror” and modern anxiety.

It reads, “At the beginning of most Black Mirror episodes, viewers enter a near-future world with a technology that appears novel, even benign. Then this technology goes horribly, unpredictably wrong. In this chaos are echoes of our paradoxical anxiety, which grows worse and worse in a world becoming better and better. Black Mirror has resonated. The series has earned huge ratings, prestigious awards, and praise from figures ranging from Jordan Peele to Stephen King.”

The School of Journalism and New Media also plans to offer a different, but similar “Black Mirror” class this summer as an elective. Those who are interested may email Rucker at ldrucker@olemiss.edu.

Read the Q & A with Rucker about “Black Mirror.”

Q: What is the Black Mirror Project? Why did you get involved with it, and what results has it borne?

A: The Black Mirror Project is a website I created and an ongoing assignment I give my mass communication students each semester. After they spend most of the semester studying the history of media, we shift the focus to the future of media. I assign four specific episodes of “Black Mirror” for them to watch and ponder.

I have always been a fan of science fiction, and when this series came out, I thought it was mind-bending. I also liked that the first season of the series focused a lot on social media usage and offered some scary episodes regarding social media that seemed very plausible. I like that the show is set in the near future – not hundreds of years away. I think that makes it more frightening and relevant.

As a result of starting this project, I have been contacted by people from several different states and countries who have used “Black Mirror” in their college and high school classes. Some have reached out asking if they can submit their students’ Black Mirror Reflections to be published on our website, and I have encouraged them to do that. I love collaborating with others.

 

Q: How have you integrated Black Mirror into your teaching, and what does it add to your classroom?

My students are asked to write a Black Mirror Reflection by thinking about the episodes of the show they have been assigned while pondering technology and social media in the near future. Then they are asked to research the future of technology by Googling and reading several articles on the subject, and talking to friends, family and professors to get ideas.

They are asked to imagine that they’ve just been hired as a writer for the show. It’s their job to come up with a storyline for their own episode, but they only have a week to do it or they (fictionally) get fired. They are told to imagine it will be featured in the next season of “Black Mirror.”

Students write a one-page, double-spaced report describing their episode and the characters they imagine starring in it. They discuss what technology is used and how? They think about a scenario involving technology and social media, and take that idea to an extreme. That’s the story.

I read them and select the best ones to publish on our Black Mirror Project website. You will find a collection of creative “Black Mirror” responses there. I think the exercise helps students begin to think about their personal relationship with technology, social media and electronic communication. Some have said it was “eye-opening.”

Q: In what way is Black Mirror a “modern day Twilight Zone,” as the Black Mirror Project website says? Does the show diverge from the Twilight Zone in any noteworthy ways?

I think one of the differences is that “Black Mirror” seems to be set in the near future. To me, that makes it more frightening and plausible because many of the episodes involve scenarios that we are on the verge of experiencing now. While some of “The Twilight Zone” episodes were like this, many were set many years in the future and were often more fantastical than reality-based.

I wanted to show students several episodes of “The Twilight Zone” that could be compared and contrasted with “Black Mirror,” hoping in my research I would find some “Twilight Zone” episodes from more than 50 years ago that had envisioned the future spot on, but I had difficulty finding episodes that I thought would be a good fit. However, the Harvard Political Review article does offer up a lot of interesting points about what the “The Twilight Zone” has meant to our culture.

I do show one “Twilight Zone” episode called “Number 12 Looks Just Like You” that is about the idea of beauty and perfection, which is still very relevant to viewers today.

I think the scenarios that “Black Mirror” presents are warnings about the near future in the same way “The Twilight Zone” warned us about our world. They both were important shows with confrontational, yet helpful messages that we should pay attention to.

Science fiction is prophetic vision.

UM School of Journalism faculty plan for Media Workshop 2.0 in fall

Posted on: December 3rd, 2018 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media introduced a new workshop this semester. The Media Workshop was held for nine Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. with a goal of introducing first and second year students to technology, software and instructors of upper level classes.

Brad Conway talked about social media. Darren Sanefski presented on InDesign and demonstrated how to make a logo quickly and Photoshop cut-outs. Emily Bowen-Moore taught students how to prepare resumes.

Deb Wenger, Ph.D., taught social media video. Iveta Imre, Ph.D., led a session on Premiere Pro and basic sequencing. Ji Heo led a virtual reality and 360 video session.

Mark Dolan, Ph.D., covered iPhone photography techniques and apps, and Michael Fagans led a visual communicating and Instagram session.

“I hope they (students) were introduced to faculty they would like to work with in the future as well as software and technology that they will utilize later in their time in our school,” said Fagans, one of the workshop organizers.

He said a good mix of journalism and IMC students attended the workshop.

“One of our other ‘secret agenda’ items is to start expanding our culture of working at the school so they are not just banking hours,” he said. “Students who did participate in the workshop were also offered the opportunity to volunteer at a sporting event that was needing social media savvy. So there was a direct experiential moment because students participated.”

Fagans said they aren’t planning to offer the Media Workshop again in spring, but hope to lead one next fall.

Students are encouraged to get involved.

The C Spire Tech Experience brings notable speakers and robots to campus

Posted on: April 28th, 2017 by ldrucker

Randi Zuckerberg, founder of Zuckerberg Media and former chief marketing officer of Facebook.

A major technology event featuring nationally acclaimed speakers and cutting-edge demonstrations came to the Ole Miss campus this week, and they brought robots.

A robot with school spirit greeted guests. He was programmed to give the “fins up” sign and say “Hotty Toddy!”

We teach our robots to say Hotty Toddy! C Spire #CTX #technology #journalism #media

Posted by Meek School of Journalism and New Media on Thursday, April 27, 2017

CTX – the C Spire Tech Experience – was held in The Pavilion at Ole Miss. The mini-SXSW expo featured Brian Uzzi, a Northwestern University professor and artificial intelligence expert; Michelle McKenna-Doyle, chief information officer for the National Football League; and Randi Zuckerberg, founder of Zuckerberg Media and former chief marketing officer of Facebook.

The event offered demonstrations of some of the leading technology innovations in the U.S., including virtual reality and artificial intelligence, and a “sneak peek” of C Spire’s forthcoming streaming digital television product. The VR demonstrations featured advanced work by faculty and students in the UM School of Engineering and the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence.

Brian Uzzi

Partners for the event include the UM schools of Business Administrationand Engineering, Associated Student Body, the CME and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“We’re excited to partner with an industry leader in hosting a major high-tech event on campus,” Chancellor Jeffery Vitter said in an earlier interview. “It will help spur ideas and innovation that will enable our students and faculty to more fully participate in the new digital economy.”

C Spire CEO Hu Meena said the Mississippi-based telecommunications and technology services company is uniquely positioned to bring to life an event at the intersection of music and technology.

“In the new digital economy, these are some of the leading innovations that hold promise for greatly improving the quality of our lives,” Meena said.

Besides providing the venue and additional support for CTX, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics had two demonstrations set up in the vendor area.

Randi Zuckerberg

“One is our virtual reality kiosk, which allows viewers to put on a headset and go on the Walk of Champions, inside the locker room and other Rebels’ sports-related scenarios,” said Michael Thompson, senior associate athletics director of communications and marketing. “The second one is our Rebel Rewards app, which gives faithful patrons and users several discounts on Ole Miss Athletics merchandise.”

A group of nearly 40 students in UM’s virtual reality class is working on demonstrations for CTX.

“These students are from all across the state, nation and world,” said Adam Jones, assistant professor of computer and information science. “This class is the first of its kind at Ole Miss and is the only regular class in the state dedicated to developing virtual reality systems.”

Jones’ Hi5 Virtual Reality Lab students, his research group, also showed off some of their projects, demonstrating mixed reality and augmented reality experiences.

CME students’ demos included a table that showcases the NASA Student Launch rocket project in which they participated.

Michelle McKenna-Doyle

“Our research project was devoted to designing, constructing and launching a high-powered rocket to a target altitude of 1 mile,” said Dillon Hall, a senior mechanical engineering major from Saltillo and leader of the 12-member team. “Our rocket also had to carry an experimental payload apparatus designed to protect a fragile cargo installed into the launch vehicle throughout an entire flight.”

In addition, CTX 2017 included a music concert that evening at The Lyric Oxford, near the Square. Featured performers were Passion Pit, a highly-regarded alternative indietronic band from Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Weeks and the Lonely Biscuits, both from Nashville, Tennessee.

CTX’s technology focus helped kick-off the 22nd annual Double Decker Festival, set for April 28-29. The two-day event attracts thousands of visitors and features nearly 200 arts, crafts and food vendors, along with live music and other entertainment.

For more information about CTX 2017, visit http://cspire.com/ctx or follow C Spire on Twitter.

Story by Edwin Smith.

New Course: J353 Drone Journalism course offered during May Intersession

Posted on: April 4th, 2017 by ldrucker

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media will achieve new heights this spring when it offers the new May Intersession course Journalism 353 Drone Journalism, Section 1.

“This course will examine how journalists can use drones in a safe and responsible way to craft messages for a mass audience,” said professor Ji Hoon Heo, who will lead the course. “News stories and content can benefit from the aerial perspectives that drone mounted cameras can provide.”

Heo said the course will explore Federal Aviation Administration regulations, local regulations, drone operations and techniques, and drone use ethics. Students will take the FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification at the end of the course.

“They will produce one journalism story using drones,” Heo said. “I am hoping that students will learn that drones, while fun and cool, are a tool we can use to enhance our journalism stories. Safety is a requirement, and it is important for us to abide by regulations and law so that we can continue to utlize this amazing tool.”

For more information, contact Ji Hoon Heo at 662-915-7643 or jheo1@olemiss.edu.