Archive for the ‘Communication & Media’ Category

Using mobile phone apps in weight-loss programs

April 25, 2013

Design and pilot results of a mobile phone weight-loss application for women starting a meal replacement programme

From Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare

Mobile phones using text messaging and monitoring have been shown to be useful additions to health programs. The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a weight-loss intervention delivered by a smartphone app that supported individuals embarking on a diet and that was evidenced-based. Researchers developed and tested a mobile phone application (app) to support individuals embarking on a partial meal replacement program (MRP).

Overweight or obese women were randomly allocated to one of two study groups an intervention group and a control group. The intervention group received an MRP Support app. The control group received a static app based on the information available with the MRP. A total of 58 adult women) participated in the 8-week trial. Objective data suggested that users of the Support app were more engaged than those using the control app.  Women in the intervention group reported a greater increase in positive affect (i.e. mood) than those in the control group. At Week 8, those in the control group reported a greater decrease in the effort they were willing to put into staying on the diet than those who received the Support app  Preliminary data suggests that the MRP Support app has the potential to increase positive mood and maintain motivation during a weight loss programme. This study indicates that the support app could be a useful adjunct to existing MRPs for psychological outcomes.


The challenges for science journalism in the UK

April 24, 2013

From Progress in Physical Geography

A science journalist is a specialist whose role is, broadly, to report scientific developments to a wider audience than that reached by the academic journals. The world of journalism is changing rapidly as online media grow, squeezing resources and putting pressure on journalists to produce maximum output on minimum resources.  The effect is to threaten to shift the role of science news production away from science journalists to public relations (PR) professionals, and to reduce the essential democratic role of the journalist holding the spenders of public money to account.

This study discusses in particular two significant pieces of recent research into science journalism in the UK, namely Williams and Clifford’s report into specialist science journalism in the UK national media (2010), and the recent BBC Impartiality Review. It also describes the working practices and pressures on science journalists with the intention of providing a guide to working with science journalists. The authors discuss the pressures facing the field as print news declines and online publication ascends.


If Romeo and Juliet had mobile phones

February 13, 2013

From Mobile Media & Communication

This study looks at how the Mobile Revolution has promoted networked individualism – connectivity that is not bound up in solidary groups. Mobile phones have played a key role in the developed world’s transformation from group-bound societies to networked societies in which people move among sparsely knit networks of diverse others. The authors wonder how Romeo and Juliet’s situation would have differed with access to mobile technology affording personal communication rather than the household-centered communication of the Montagues and the Capulets. Nowadays, Juliet would routinely text or call Romeo. There is little doubt that in their case the course of true love would have been more connected, it is possible they might have lived happily ever after.


Who is winning the battle to control the internet?

December 28, 2012

From Index on Censorship

A diverse landscape for open debate, creativity and innovation, the digital world has in many ways been a gift for free expression. A place for spreading news quickly and information-sharing, for highlighting the most profound violations of human rights, it transforms how we communicate. It’s also, of course, ripe territory for censorship, widespread offence and illegal activity.

While government representatives gathered at the World Conference on Information Technology (WCIT) to argue over the future of internet governance, this issue of Index on Censorship magazine, Digital Frontiers asks: who is winning the battle to control the internet?


How good is Google? The quality of Otolaryngology information on the internet

September 21, 2012

Article and accompanying podcast

From: Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

The use of the Internet to seek information about health-related topics by patients has and will continue to grow at a rapid pace. This article questions the quality of medical information a person will look at on the internet and if it is even a good idea to look up medical information on the internet. When asked in the accompanying  podcast what inspired this article, the lead author replied “the amount of patients that I had met with and had pre-opted for surgery who had said I’ve looked this up and brought in information, had brought in print-outs from different sources they found on the internet…and I basically wanted to get a good feel for what they were looking at and what the quality of information on the sites they were looking at.”

To assess the quality of information on the internet, the authors of this article performed Google keyword searches of the ten most commonly treated otolaryngologic diseases. Once this was completed, they used a brief questionnaire to assess the quality of these websites. It was observed that none were perfect and left many questions unanswered. “The biggest thing is that the doctor just needs to stay in the loop and [the doctor] needs to be aware of the fact that the great majority of patients who come in will do their prior research of the disease even before coming to see the doctor.”


Moderate voices muted in political news

September 13, 2012

Moderatism or Polarization? Representation of Advocacy Groups’ Ideology in Newspapers

From Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly

While commentators and scholars argue that political groups have become more polarized in the US, this study finds that moderate political groups are not as well covered in newspaper articles as more radical right and left-wing groups. “Extremes are more intuitively novel, entertaining, and colorful, representing another common news value,” wrote the authors “Moderate voices may be more difficult to portray as exciting than extreme voices.”

208 political advocacy groups that represented a range of political ideologies were examined as they were represented across 118 newspapers. The authors found that groups that expressed more polarized opinions on political issues were mentioned in larger newspapers, appeared earlier in articles, and were mentioned in more paragraphs. The authors wrote, “More people had the opportunity to note those groups, fueling perceptions of those groups as important or legitimate.”


Sex-related literature jeopardizes and empowers young women’s sexuality

September 11, 2012

Striving for pleasure without fear: Short-term effects of reading a women’s magazine on women’s sexual attitudes

From Psychology of Women Quarterly 

The outstanding global success of ‘50 Shades Of Grey’ by E. L. James seems to have prompted the abundance of erotic novels on the market and storming the charts. At the moment 8 out of the top 10 bestselling fictional books in the UK are works of erotica. The boom of ‘mummy porn’ has no doubt encouraged speculation about the effects the popularity may have on attitudes and behavior. While the effects of sexualized media on young women has long been debated, this study finds that women who read sex-related magazine articles from popular women’s magazines like Cosmopolitan are less likely to view premarital sex as a risky behavior. Additionally, the women who are exposed to these articles are more supportive of sexual behavior that both empowers women and prioritizes their own sexual pleasure. The article concludes  “Our results suggest that the complex and sometimes conflicting representations of female sexuality proliferating in the mass media and popular culture could potentially have both empowering and problematic effects on women’s developing sexual identities.”


The haunting spectacle of crystal meth: A media-created mythology?

August 29, 2012

From  Crime Media Culture 

Media-fuelled panics about drug use and drug control have occurred throughout the history of the modern press. This study examines the creation of current concerns about crystal methamphetamine (crystal meth) over the last decade, and how popular perceptions of drugs and drug users have been influenced by disproportionate and sensationalised alarmist media reporting. This movement can be seen as a case demonstrating the use of both propaganda and myth. The representation in the British mediahas created its own hyper-reality, influencing political debate, drug policy and public reaction. What is striking about the coverage of crystal meth, or ‘ice’ as it is commonly known, is that the media’s predicted epidemic in the UK has proved to be an exaggeration of mythic proportions. Quite simply, indicators measuring drug use in the UK suggest its use is almost non-existent.  This article has demonstrated that crystal meth represents a unique story.  The predicted arrival of an ‘ice age’ in Britain has not materialised. The article recognizes how the use of graphic visual images is pervasive in the24-hour, global, technology-driven, mobile, multi-mediascape and is even more significant in communicating the message and manipulating meaning.

It is concluded that the reality has become lost in the visual representation, and a hyper-reality of crystal meth use has been constructed in order to distract people from the veracity of social life and from more urgent socio-political issues. The haunting spectacle of crystal meth has become a central aspect of social order and culture; a ‘permanent opium war’ and an instigator of change.  The press has become the new battleground for this war on drugs.


Monsters, playboys, virgins and whores: Rape myths in the news media’s coverage of sexual violence

August 16, 2012

From Language and Literature

Much of the news media’s coverage of sexual violence perpetuates myths and stereotypes about rape, rapists and rape victims. It is common for the media in such cases to portray rapists as monsters, beasts or perverts and women as promiscuous. This study textually analyses newspaper accounts of three rape cases, two from the USA and one from the UK, each of which represents a different type of sexual violence, to ascertain whether or not they disseminate rape myths. In these cases the majority perpetuated rape myths: through victim blaming or the myth of the sociopathic rapist. In all three cases analysed, the impact of the attacks on the victims was largely overlooked, which had the effect of trivialising the crime. Media coverage can shape public opinion and reinforce stereotypes. The study recognizes the consequences of offering a misleading representation of sexual violence, it may influence the definition and understanding of rape by the public, police, and members of the court. This study concludes that in order to combat the problem of sexual violence, the news media must provide accurate examples of rape that do not fit preconceived notions or conform to myths. Only through doing so can the media begin to address the wider societal issues that contribute to this crime.


Iz txt spk bad 4 U?: The relationship between text messaging and English grammar skills

August 9, 2012

Texting, techspeak, and tweens: The relationship between text messaging and English grammar skills

From New Media & Society

Throughout the world, cell phones have become omnipresent in classrooms, cafeterias, and hallways. This boom in popularity has led to diverse uses by adolescents. A 2010 report by the Nielsen Company found that American adolescent teens send more text messages than any other age group. This has led to an evolution in grammar, the basis of which we shall call ‘techspeak.’ This dramatic rise in popularity has led parents and teachers to question the effect of using this technology on adolescents’ understanding of English grammar during a developmentally critical period of language-skills acquisition. There is much debate among leaders in education, teachers, and parents as to the effects of techspeak on the grammar and writing skills of adolescents in the classroom setting.

This study considers if there is a causal link between text messaging adaptations and adolescent grammar. A survey was conducted to test the association between text message usage of students and their scores on an offline, age-appropriate grammar assessment test. The results of this study lend support to a general negative relationship between text messaging and adolescent grammar skills. The findings have many implications, especially in the classroom. Adolescents should be educated to understand the differences between techspeak and standard English grammar, recognizing that there is a time and a place for both forms of communication. It is impossible to stop techspeak entirely; indeed, it is a very useful form of communication when confined to places where formality takes a backseat to efficiency and speed. The study concludes that electronic technology usage for the purposes of teaching should be monitored to ensure that this does not allow adolescents to further habituate to using techspeak in the classroom.


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