Let’s face it, some weeks are simply better than others, and March had its share of ups and downs.
As spring break descended in North America, and as colleagues and students found themselves taking a much-needed break, I found myself on a forced break -- bedridden for longer than I wanted, living off antibiotics and over-the-counter drugs. I slept a lot, and my initial efforts to walk outdoors were felled by a high pollen count. Finding myself somewhat housebound, I turned to friends for streaming recommendations – content that was sufficiently engaging and, more important, didn’t require thinking or a keen eye for foreshadowing. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel garnered the most votes, followed by The Good Place.
As it turned out, severe headaches precluded spending any time in front of a screen, so I inched my way through a broad swath of hard-copy materials instead: manuscripts accepted at Public Opinion Quarterly that needed to be line-edited; a few books nominated for the AAPOR Book Award; applications for the editorship of Communication Theory; the first set of proofs for Voices, the ICA conference theme book Donald Matheson (U of Canterbury) and I coedited; and a growing pile of newspapers.
Focusing on print for any sustained period of time initially was physically difficult, but fortunately was offset by the heartening fact that everything I was reading reflected excellence. The scholars I read were crisp in thought, masterful in their methods, and revisionist in their findings. Equally important, they were oriented toward making a difference – not only in their respective corners of academia, but also in those parts of the nonacademic world that inform and are informed by their research. For the theme book, Donald and I are delighted to have secured contributions from junior scholars alongside works by senior scholars, including Guobin Yang and Elihu Katz (both of U of Pennsylvania).
As much as I enjoyed the relatively solitary work of reading and editing, I was really looking forward to my committee work and deliberating with colleagues. Robin Nabi (U of California, Santa Barbara) has shepherded the Publications Committee through a series of discussions involving editorial policies, open-data badges, copyright, and potential new journals, to name but a few. The search for a new Communication Theory editor – indeed, any editor – requires quite a bit of heavy lifting; it involves not only crafting a call for applications and identifying a set of metrics by which to evaluate applicants, but also identifying and reaching out to potentially interested parties.
I was excited to see the very different applications we received, and eager to hear how my committee colleagues – Arul Chib (Nanyang Technological U), Radhika Parameswaran (Indiana U), and Sabine Trepte (U of Hohenheim), with ICA’s associate executive director JP Gutierrez as ex officio – would evaluate them. Our collective research areas – spanning technology in healthcare, marginalization, media psychology, feminist cultural studies, media effects, media globalization, persuasion, and political communication – have allowed us to bring different perspectives to the virtual table, examine an issue from all angles, and reach a considered decision. By the standards of deliberative democracy, this committee has been ideal, and I look forward to our continued deliberation of the CT editorship, the decision for which will be ratified by the Board of Directors in Washington, DC this May.
Just as the Publications Committee spent March focusing on the CT editorship, 40 of our ICA colleagues deliberated this month on nominations submitted for eight different awards. David Tewksbury (U of Illinois), as chair of the Research Awards Committee, will have the honor of announcing the award recipients this May, just as François Cooren (U of Montreal), this year’s Fellows Chair, will be introducing this year’s inductees.
As well, under the leadership of executive director Laura Sawyer, ICA headquarters is abuzz with activity as staff members continue to work nonstop on conference logistics: finalizing the print program; tending to hotel reservations, conference registration, exhibitor relations, and conference supplies; and a sea of other details to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch this May. Conference attendees this year once again can avail themselves of subsidized childcare, a nursing mothers’ room, free yoga every morning, and gender-neutral bathrooms. We’ll have more receptions than any one person could possibly ever attend, a free shuttle between ICA hotels (the Hilton and the Omni Shoreham), and a closing toast on the final day. Over 200 hotel room nights are still available, the majority of them at the Omni Shoreham. You can read more about conference developments in this newsletter and on the ICA website’s conference page.