Monthly Archives: February 2009

Credit Crisis

While I really enjoy reading news, I have to admit that my eyes glaze over when it comes to financial stories. That’s why I was thrilled to find this flash video presentation explaining the current credit crisis in the United States. It’s well-done, with no partisan blame and an explanation of terms that I’ve heard a million times but never truly understood. If you get a chance, check it outhere

The Effect of Geography on Attitudes Toward Latinos

The Effect of Geography on Group Threat Theory and Attitudes toward Latin American Immigrants

This secondary analysis examined group threat theory by looking at the relationship between the perceived number of immigrants in a particular area and the prejudicial attitudes toward Latin American immigrants. Traditionally, group threat theory has been shown to have an effect on attitudes toward Blacks but not toward Latinos. Findings from this study indicate that estimating high numbers of immigrants is not a reliable predictor of strong prejudicial attitudes toward Latin American immigrants. However, predictions of higher numbers of immigrants do appear to vary significantly by geography, suggesting that Latinos are impacted by group threat theory but have been overlooked because of a national sample that was suppressing the relationship.


Testing Group Threat Theory and the Contact Hypothesis on Asian Immigrants

This secondary analysis examined attitudes toward immigrants by looking at group threat theory, which tests the relationship between the perceived number of immigrants in a particular area and the prejudicial attitudes toward Asian immigrants. We also examined the contact hypothesis, which suggests that the more interaction between groups the lower the levels of prejudice, as it relates to Asian immigrants. Traditionally, group threat theory has been shown to have an effect on attitudes toward Blacks but not toward Latinos or Asians.

Findings from this study support the contact hypothesis as it applies to Asian immigrants. Findings of this study also confirm that larger estimates of immigrants do not predict strong prejudicial attitudes toward Asian immigrants, suggesting that Asian immigrants occupy a unique position that challenges the racial ordering hierarchy.

Co-author: Yeon Kyeong Kim, University of Iowa

Patrolling Whiteness: Framing the Minuteman Project on the Evening News

This study explores how Whiteness was framed in network television news coverage of the Minutemen, a group of volunteers who stationed themselves along the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent immigrants from illegally entering the country. In a visual-textual analysis, I examined stories about the group that aired on the evening news broadcasts. I found that, through a series of frames enacted by the Minutemen and reinforced by the news stories, Whiteness remained invisible while the threat toward Whiteness became pronounced. The Minutemen embraced Whiteness and literally policed its border, controlling the dialogue, and historically editing what did not fit with the established hegemonic narrative.

Source Influences on Framing the Intelligent Design Debate

“Teach the controversy:” The relationship between sources and frames in reporting the intelligent design debate

This study examined sources and frames in the debate over whether to teach evolution or intelligent design in public schools. A content analysis of 12 newspapers from Kansas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania was conducted to see how geography and sourcing affected the framing of the controversial science issue. Established patterns of reporting science were repeated in the news coverage, but location and sources played an important role in how the issue was framed. The frames varied by region, suggesting a new direction for future research of framing.

Protesting Immigration: Attitude Congruency and the Behavioral Component of the Third-Person Perspective

This study examined the relationship between attitude congruency and third-person perceptions of influence of news media.

Two experiments were conducted to determine the effects of this relationship on willingness to support protests, using immigration as a topic.

Findings indicate that attitude-congruent news stories have strong perceived influence on individuals, but not on others. Individuals were supportive of attitude-congruent protests, but TPP and the news stories were unrelated to protest support.

Traditional operationalization of the behavioral component is questioned.

Co-author: Dr. Julie Andsager, University of Iowa

Testing Group Threat Theory on Asian and Latino Immigrants

This secondary analysis examined group threat theory by looking at the relationship between the perceived number of immigrants in a particular area and the prejudicial attitudes toward Latin American immigrants. Traditionally, group threat theory has been shown to have an effect on attitudes toward Blacks but not toward Latino/as. Findings from this study indicate that estimating high numbers of immigrants is not a reliable predictor of strong prejudicial attitudes toward Latin American immigrants. However, predictions of higher numbers of immigrants do appear to vary significantly by geography, suggesting that Latino/as are impacted by group threat theory but have been overlooked due to national sampling suppressing the relationship.

Me Gusta

While in Austin, I really developed a taste for TexMex, warm weather, and margaritas. Thanks to bartending school, I’m always on the lookout for a good margarita recipe. And, courtesy of Claire, I found a great one…from Chili’s of all places. Who knew?

Anyway, if you’re interested:

1.25 oz. tequila (Sauza)

.5 oz. Cointreau liquor

.5 oz. brandy

4 oz. sweet and sour mix

.25 oz. lime juice

Shake well and pour over ice. It’s smooth but you definitely start to feel the alcohol after awhile. I add a little extra tequila in mine (because I heart tequila), so play around a little with the amounts. I realize the Cointreau and Sauza are a little more top-shelf than most people like, but it absolutely pays off.


Mirror, Mirror: Hegemonic Framing of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the New York Times

This study explores how Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., were framed by the New York Times from 1960 through 1965.

Drawing on concepts of hegemony and racism, a textual analysis was used to examine 136 articles mentioning King and 44 articles mentioning Malcolm X.

Coverage of each man was compared with the other for evidence of framing.

The study found four recurring themes surrounding the coverage of these two men: the diminishment of Malcolm X as a leader, a mistrust and skepticism of Malcolm X and the Black Muslims, a deep fear of racial violence, and the stigmatization of Malcolm X.

Through this framing, Malcolm X was labeled as a deviant while Martin Luther King, Jr., was embraced as a righteous leader. These characterizations reinforced hegemonic power structures while also supporting ideological notions of accepted racial norms in the United States.

Happily Ever After: Myth, Rape, and Romance in the Mary K. Letourneau Case

Mary Kay Letourneau, a teacher who raped her 12-year-old student. We examined magazine coverage surrounding the event to determine what narratives were used to explain a crime that reversed the traditional roles of criminal and victim. We found that journalists relied on rape misconceptions and myths of proper (hetero)sexual roles, including the Good Mother and Princess in romantic fairy tales to tell the story.

The construction of this narrative erased the crime, turning rape into romance and (re)establishing masculine hegemony.

Co-author: Dr. Dustin Harp, University of Texas at Austin

Framing Private Lynch: Establishment and tenacity of the hero frame during war

Following the rescue of Jessica Lynch, a soldier captured during the invasion of Iraq, media outlets incorrectly sensationalized events surrounding her capture, imprisonment, and rescue.

Using Lule’s components of a hero, newspaper articles and news transcripts were analyzed for these attributes, and a Web forum was studied to gauge reaction.

A hero frame was present in the press and, for at least a portion of the population, the frame was a stubborn one.

Stranger Danger

As evidenced by my lengthy discussion of The Descent, I love a good horror movie. There’s something about the creepiness and the ability to tap into fears effectively really fascinates me, and I’m always on the lookout for a good, underrated horror film (I’m looking at you Isolation and Vacancy). In that ongoing quest, Claire and I checked out The Strangers this past weekend, a movie I had seen advertised and, from the look of the trailer, had really strong potential. Jared was not a fan, but what does he know?

Apparently, a lot.

Strangers starts out with the claim, “inspired by true events.” Now normally this is a phrase reserved for Lifetime Original Movies or some Disney knockoff, but when you drop those words on a horror filmwellthat means something. Or at least I thought it did.

The movie’s premise is that a couple has just made it back to a house in the country after attending a wedding, only to be terrorized by strangers (Hey! Just like the title!) for no apparent reason. The first 30 minutes or so had great potential—the couple was dealing with a marriage proposal rejection (Hello worst nightmare, what are you doing in this movie?) and the setup for the scary moments was definitely effective. But what I liked most was that the director went to great lengths to kind of lay out evidence (presumably like a crime scene)—the discarded engagement ring, bloody knife, shattered car window. They even started with a 911 call about finding the bodies. It was a lot of fun trying to figure out how the police pieced together the series of events in real life.

Well, the last half hour got to be a little much. Then they tacked on an ending that was so heavy-handed it read like a seventh grade essay about hypocrisy. Then they let Liv Tyler actually live. It really went downhill fast.

Oddly enough, the movie’s real downfall occurred when, out of curiosity, I wiki’d Strangers to find out about the true events that inspired the story. Apparently, “the film was inspired by an event from director Bryan Bertino’s childhood: a stranger came to his home asking for someone who was not there, and Bertino later found out that empty homes in the neighborhood had been broken into that night.”

So, just to recap: The “true event” that inspired the story is that some people broke into some homes when no one was home? What. The. Hell. Thanks for nothing, Strangers. I award you no points, and may god have mercy on your soul.

The Descent

This should speak volumes about my relationship with Claire: we watched The Descent together this weekend. BAM!

As we all know, The Descent holds a special place in my heart. That was the weekend we were in Bloomington, IN, visiting Nate for Snakes on a Plane. Well, not all of us were there but, despite missing the fourth, we had a blast playing catch, grilling out, playing a marathon game of Mille Bornes, and watching one of the best horror movies ever made.

The movie is incredible. Seriously. Just incredible. The only man in the entire film (except for Scar) is impaled and killed three minutes in. The entire movie is 95 minutes long, but the crawlers don’t appear for 47 minutes. Juno’s affair with Sarah’s husband is telegraphed in three looks, each less than two seconds: Juno to Paul, Beth to Juno, and Paul, Juno and Paul again. It’s mercilessly graphic without being grotesque, gritty without being disgusting, and poignant without being cliche. It is completely, relentlessly compelling, from start to finish.

Interpretting films is a large part of my field. Bordwell & Thompson argue that there are four levels of interpretation, with the fourth (symptomatic) being the most complex, representing a manifestation of a culture’s ideology. In other words, a movie often represents a lot more than a literal translation of what is on the screen.

So, how to interpret The Descent? There are so many questions. Most notably, what’s with the faces, the eyes keeping a silent watch on the characters in the film (and, at times, the viewer). Here’s a picture of a face when Sarah enters the cabin:

And here’s another, a little more subtle. This one happens after Sarah has a disturbing nightmare and sits up abruptly in her bed in the cabin. After she lays down, this is visible (even more so in dark lighting):

These eyes are disturbing and (I would argue) deliberate on the part of the director. My friend Jared has also pointed out a face-type shape in the bullet holes on a road sign. What are they supposed to mean? Furthermore, what about the crawlers? Peter Travers of Rolling Stone openly wonders “Are they inbred mutants or the longtime grudges among the women made creepy flesh?” This point is made all the more salient by the fact that the crawlers have no vision and can only kill based on sound–fascinating in a group of friends where each has issues with the other (the affair, guilt of lying about the affair, the sister rivalry, a hidden lesbian crush) but are left unspoken.

Clearly, there’s something more than just spelunking going on here. This becomes all too clear with the theatrical ending (Juno in the car) and the dvd-release ending (Sarah with her daughter in the cave). Well, I stumbled on a review (and some miscellaneous comments) that had some interesting suggestions:

• Sarah’s friends each represent a part of her psyche

• Sarah was mortally injured in the car wreck and the film is about her “descent” into death (with Sarah mentally killing off each of her friends as she grew closer to dying)

• Sarah never regained consciousness after falling into the hole (when she was knocked out) and therefore hallucinated about all of her friends being killed. This means she woke up at the end, mentally unbalanced, and settled in to eat cake with the image of her daughter (possibly dead, possibly just giving up in order to die).

The most intriguing is the idea that the crawlers never existed. The reviewer suggested that Sarah murdered all of her friends in the cave, which would explain why she was covered in blood. The reviewer asked us to see her like we would see the lead in Carrie, an outcast pushed too far. While initially I was against this idea (hardcore against it, actually), it’s a lot of fun and has some merit. For instance, Sarah wasn’t around when the other friends were killed–she was only physically around for Beth and Juno, both of whom she was responsible for killing. Furthermore, Sarah is not hurt by the monsters and actually begins crawling around silently like one (as evidenced when she temporarily rescues Juno).

I don’t know if I completely buy any of these, and I certainly dismiss one or two. However, by taking bits and pieces of what we know, we can assemble our own take on what really happened. Ultimately, it’s what we think that truly matters. As one reviewer wrote: “That’s what makes these kind of films so much fun. They may mean nothing at all (as unlikely as that is in this case), but they so carefully lay the groundwork to believe the exact opposite, that we’re fools not to give it a go.”

Valentine’s Day Weekend

Let’s face it: Valentine’s Day sucks. It’s just like so many other over-hyped holidays with expectations so ridiculously high that they can never be met (I’m looking at you, New Year’s Eve). To couples, it signals the day of the year when you’re supposed to prove your love, though that does call into question what you’re doing the other 364 days of the year. To singles, it’s the end of a long winter drive of dealing with other couples, a journey that begins on Thanksgiving (or T-Give, as the kids are calling it these days), has a layover on the 25th of December, and then culminates on Valentine’s Day. After that, it’s smooth sailing (apart from some choppy waters on warm summer nights). That metaphor kind of got away from me there (is the single person driving? Flying? Boating?), but you get the idea.

Well, this year was the first year in a long time when I actually involved in an official relationship on Valentine’s Day (nothing is quite as awkward as unofficial relationships on Valentine’s Day). To celebrate, my girlfriend flew into the Quad Cities International (really?) Airport, where I picked her up and stole her back to Iowa City with me.

It was a fantastic weekend. For reals. I couldn’t believe it. Normally, when I organize these types of special occasions, it turns into an impromptu seminar on Murphy’s Law. It becomes a cascading avalanche of fail, with each plan failing in perfect concert with the others; occasionally, even jumping the gun to get a head start. But this time, it worked. Oh, sure, I had to drive out in a blizzard to get a wine key and the garbage disposal backed up (for the first time since moving in four years ago), but compared to most plans by Joshua T. that’s an incredible success rate.

We just had a blast, lounging around watching movies, exploring Iowa City, and even stepping out for a meal or two (when I wasn’t whipping up a gourmet meal of brocolli cheese and chicken soup or macaroni and cheese for lunch). Claire (the aforementioned girlfriend) had a great time as well (or so she says) and I was just really pleased with how it all worked out.

Part of me wishes I had some kind of crazy story about how the weekend collapsed in on itself like a dying star so I could fill some extra Web pages, but for the most part I’m glad it all worked out so well. I have high hopes about this girl, and this weekend was definitely a step in the right direction.


Josh Grimm

I’m Josh Grimm and I’m currently an assistant professor at Louisiana State University, where I teach multimedia journalism and broadcast news. I graduated Otterbein College majoring in history and journalism before attending the University of Texas at Austin for my Master’s degree in journalism. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in July of 2009, and taught at Texas Tech University for three years before moving from Lubbock to Baton Rouge. My research focuses on representations of race in journalism, particularly portrayals of immigrants and immigration legislation.

That’s my research. As for me, I grew up in a small Ohio town with three sisters, a brother, Mom, and Dad. I love running, cross-country skiing, swimming, racquetball, cooking, eating, reading, and have a borderline-unhealthy obsession with college football (I’m a diehard, lifelong Ohio State Buckeye) and movies (especially classic “monster movies” from the 1950s and 1960s). I love steak, summer, and happiness, but I cannot stand clichés, intolerant people, moral hypocrites, and when people say “Daylight SavingS Time.” I watch way too many TV shows, I really enjoy hanging out with my friends (even though we’re kind of spread out now), and, while I can boast of few things, I have an impressive knowledge of James Bond movies.

Oh, and even though I have an opinion on pretty much everything, I’d much rather joke around and talk about things we agree on than battle over deeply-entrenched ideologies.

Here is my curriculum vita

Football Class

It’s been weeks since the college football recruiting rankings were released and still, there remains a huge discrepancy: The Ohio State Buckeyes have the number one-ranked recruiting class on, the number two-ranked recruiting class on CBS, the number three-ranked class from Sports Illustrated and the ninth-ranked pledge class from ESPN. I could see a little fluctuation and would even be willing to drop the Buckeyes to fifth in the ESPN rankings. But ninth place? One spot above Michigan? Really?

I hate to be Jonathan McConspiracyTheory, but I will say that it’s interesting that, on ESPN’s list, four of the top six spots are held by SEC teams; the other three lists only have the SEC with two of those top six slots. I say interesting because, as you know, ESPN is under contract with the SEC, and therefore would have a vested interest in promoting the fact that SEC teams were dominating the recruiting process. I’m not saying that’s what happened—I’m just saying that it’s interesting, that’s all.

It’s a shame that this cannot be more of a collaborative effort, a la March Madness bracketology. Even more upsetting is that no one is talking about it. Recruiting experts (apparently) don’t want to rip on competitors and, apparently, feel that they strengthen their position by ignoring everyone else’s. I’d love to see some kind of debate about how these types of rankings are determined and why they might differ. If nothing else, it would be a chance to showcase which formula works best and give each sportscaster the chance to defend their choice.

The whole thing reminded me of this fascinating piece in the New York Times, which talks about how the different online dating sites (, Eharmony, etc.) use different formulae to arrive at matches for people. In other words, each has a different equation that is supposed to discover true love, and each is convinced that they are right. These football rankings might not have the same impact as missing out on finding your soulmate (at least, I hope not!), but at the same time it has already affected discussions of pre-season rankings (more on that another time) and the strength of the conferences. And, after the shellacking of the Big Ten in bowl games (and Ohio State dropping another high-profile game, albeit this time a nail-biter), we can use all the help we can get.