Ortiz co-authors paper examining relationship between partisanship and victim-blaming in #MeToo incidents

Rebecca Ortiz, assistant professor of advertising, co-authored the paper “A Social Identity Threat Perspective on Why Partisans May Engage in Greater Victim Blaming and Sexual Assault Myth Acceptance in the #MeToo Era” with Newhouse Ph.D. candidate Andrea Smith. The paper was published by Violence Against Women, a peer-reviewed journal from Sage Journals.

“We found that the stronger the partisan identity of Republicans and Democrats, the more likely they were to engage in victim-blaming attitudes and the less likely they were to perceive the #MeToo movement as having a positive impact in the United States, possibly as a way of defending their political identities,” says Ortiz.


This study examined how U.S. partisans (N = 1,154) may engage in greater victim blaming and sexual assault myth acceptance to defend their political identities in the #MeToo era. The more Republicans and Democrats identified with being a member of their political party and reported feeling defensive when members from their political party are criticized, the more accepting they were of common sexual assault myths and thus the less likely they were to perceive sexual assault as a serious issue in need of addressing and the #MeToo movement as having a positive impact in the United States.

Munno to present two papers at AEJMC 2021 virtual conference

Greg Munno, assistant professor of magazine, news and digital journalism, is first author on two papers accepted to the 2021 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (AEJMC) virtual conference.

“Journalists with Different Mindsets Agree on Truth as the Profession’s First Obligation” was co-authored with Newhouse assistant professors Meg Craig and Alex Richards as well as Katherine Farrish G’18 who now teaches at Central Connecticut State University.

“Student Journalists Exhibit Different Mindsets, Agree on the Need for Truthful Reporting,” was co-authored with Meg Craig, Alex Richards and Newhouse doctoral student Mohammad Ali.

The AEJMC annual conference will be taking place online August 4-7, 2021.

Luttrell co-authors paper on student awareness of diversity, inclusion and equity through PR campaigns

Regina Luttrell Ph.D., associate professor of public relations, co-authored the paper “Shifting the Paradigm – Improving Student Awareness of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts Through Public Relations Campaigns” with Adrienne Wallace Ph.D. of Grand Valley State University. The paper was published by the Journal of Public Relations Education from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).


As PR professors it is our responsibility to make diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)  top of mind when teaching our students to develop comprehensive campaigns. It is our role to educate the next wave of practitioners to take the “diversity first” approach when working with clients or organizations. Through learning how to apply the researcher-developed Diversity & Inclusion Wheel for Public Relations Practitioners, this paper illustrates how students can operationalize this tool to build strategic campaigns that encompass DEI principles.

Garrett Wagner co-authors paper on the law and sexually explicit speech

Kyla Garrett Wagner, assistant professor of communications, co-authored the paper “The Three Conundrums: Doctrinal, Theoretical, and Practical Confusion in the Law of Sexually Explicit Speech” with P. Brooks Fuller, which was published by Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal.


In First Amendment law, one rarely disputed notion is that sexually explicit speech is less valuable than so-called “core” forms of expression, such as political discourse. This study revives that dispute with a focus on the Supreme Court’s justifications for categorizing sexually explicit speech as “low-value” in the first place. The analysis reveals three conundrums plaguing the Court’s jurisprudence: categorizing restrictions on sexually explicit speech; interpreting the value and harms of sexually explicit speech; and assessing the evidence (or lack thereof) for restrictions on sexually explicit speech. This article explains how these conundrums should be resolved in sexually explicit speech cases with an emphasis on adopting an analytical framework that requires substantiation similar to intermediate constitutional scrutiny as in commercial speech cases.

Grygiel publishes paper on defining what is and what isn’t state media

Jennifer Grygiel, assistant professor of communications, co-authored the paper “Unmasking Uncle Sam: A Legal Test for Defining and Identifying State Media” with Weston R. Sagar, which was published by the UC Irvine Law Review.


In December 2018, the Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee published a report detailing how the U.S. Agency for Global Media, the central federal state media agency, illegally targeted social media ads at Americans at least 860 times from 2016 to 2018. The U.S. Agency for Global Media and other U.S. state media agencies have enormous resources, and if left unchecked, could unduly influence public opinion, threaten the free and independent press, and subvert democratic accountability. To address this growing concern, this article proposes a new, comprehensive legal test for defining and identifying state media that incorporates existing approaches for analyzing government publications employed by the federal government and independent media platforms.

Consumers’ search for health answers finds new paths amid a deluge of information

At a time when information is ubiquitous and public health is top of mind, a new study on health fluency indicates that the role of health companies in consumer education is shifting amid new, diverse voices, yet still plays a meaningful and important role in the public conversation.  

The signature study—The Fluency Report: Health Literacy—released today by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, was conducted by the Newhouse School’s W2O Emerging Insights Lab (EIL), led by Regina Luttrell, associate dean and director of the EIL, in association with Real Chemistry, a global health innovation company.  

Digital health literacy encompasses a consumer’s understanding of topics such as insurance coverage, disease diagnoses, medication adherence, coordinated care and preventative care. The democratization of information was already changing the way the public sought out information on these topics, but trends accelerated in 2020 as a concrete set of issues dominated the headlines: the COVID-19 pandemic, the presidential election, health care policy, racial divides and equity and access.

“There is a seismic change happening in the nation, and most notably in health care,” Luttrell says. “Understanding consumer conversations occurring in the health space will help us better comprehend the level and depth of knowledge and factual understanding by consumers, which can lead to better solutions for individual and societal health outcomes. This study will be an ongoing annual effort by the W2O EIL and Real Chemistry to ensure consumers and organizations are doing all they can to align on facts, data and information regarding health.”

“As a global health innovation company, Real Chemistry is dedicated to improving health care through marketing and communications that help get the right treatment to the right patient at the right time,” offers Jim Weiss ’87, founder and CEO of Real Chemistry and a Newhouse alumnus. “Further, our partnership with the Newhouse School, which includes the EIL and the W2O Center for Social Commerce, is designed to improve the career opportunities of students, and to strengthen the talent pool of health care organizations globally. This study reflects our collective desire to up-level health confidence across society.”

The W2O EIL research team employed digital and social research models to ascertain what online audiences were interested in, discussing/debating and concerned about, highlighting key data that resonated. Additionally, AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning allowed them to analyze text and identify themes.

Among key findings of the report:

“As information sources have become fragmented and diverse, consumers are looking for authentic, trusted voices who speak to them and look like them,” Luttrell says.

“We at Newhouse are grateful for our strong partnership with Real Chemistry, which provides incredible opportunities for our students and helps amplify the thought leadership of our talented faculty scholars,” says Newhouse dean Mark J. Lodato. “This important study provides insight that has universal appeal to the entire industry.”  

A copy of the report is available at newhouse.syr.edu/research/w2o-emerging-insights-lab. For more information, contact Luttrell at 315.443.3613 or rmluttre@syr.edu.

Wagner publishes article on public opinion of freedom of expression

Kyla Garrett Wagner, assistant professor of communications, co-authored a paper with communications scholar Dan Riffe which was published in Communication Law and Policy from Taylor & Francis Online.

The paper, “Freedom of Expression: Another Look at How Much the Public Will Endorse,” presents research on what types of expression the general public is more, and less, likely to accept as valid.

Ortiz co-authors journal article on advertising of menstrual products

Rebecca Ortiz, assistant professor of advertising, co-authored the paper, “The evolving landscape of menstrual product advertisements in the United States: 2008-2018.” The paper was published by the Health Care for Women International journal from Taylor & Francis publishers.

Ortiz collaborated with colleagues in the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University to analyze the changing landscape of menstrual product advertising in the United States. They found that shifts toward more inclusivity of racial, gender, and body type representation may positively influence young people’s perceptions about their bodies and menstruation.

Media Law in New York State

Roy Gutterman

Roy Gutterman

Associate Professor

Associate Professor


What was the focus of the project?

My research focuses on media law in New York state.  This annual article is a substantial part of my broader research agenda on media law and First Amendment issues.  I have been writing an annual article for the Syracuse Law Review’s annual Survey of New York Law every year since 2008.  This is a special edition of the law review in which law professors and experts write a “survey” article tracking major developments in a variety of topics, including civil practice, torts, contracts, environmental, insurance and other areas of law.  The law review has been publishing the Survey since 1962 and it serves as a comprehensive record of legal developments in the state.

Because New York is the so-called “media capital of the world,” every year there are dozens of cases involving newspapers, magazines, broadcasters, filmmakers and other media entities.  Over the years, social media has become an important companion as courts apply the law to developing and modern media.  There are also frequent statutory developments that envelope the media and the First Amendment. 

My annual article runs in the 30-page range with footnotes and covers cases across the New York State court system—trial courts, appellate division and the Court of Appeals – and the federal district courts and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. 

What questions did your project seek to address? What were the research questions, hypotheses, etc.?

There is not a single research question as much as an overall goal of finding out what happened in media and First Amendment law in New York in the previous year. The survey year runs from July 1 to June 30 the following year.  The substantive cases cover developments in defamation law, invasion of privacy and other torts such as intentional infliction of emotional distress.  Other areas cover some intellectual property cases involving media and high-profile Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) as well as reporter’s privilege or confidentiality cases. 

These cases touch on the important role the press plays in public affairs and the free flow of information, and how the law protects these rights.

What were your findings? 

If there is one consistent theme in this annual research, it is that New York law is protective of media rights.  For example, suing the media for defamation in New York requires a heavy burden for plaintiffs, especially when assessing matters of public interest and New York has a narrow definition of invasion of privacy (defined only as unauthorized use of someone’s image or likeness for commercial purposes).  Every year, it is reassuring to read cases where judges laud the media and hand down decisions that uphold the press’s First Amendment role.

What do you think the implications are for the discipline?

With the number of reported opinions on both broad and extremely narrow issues, having an annual summary and analysis of all these cases in one article provides a useful resource for lawyers, judges and scholars.  Over the years, some of the country’s most interesting media law cases have emerged from state and federal courts in New York.  My Survey article is often the first to cover these cases before other scholars.  At least one media lawyer mentioned that she looks forward to reading the survey article every year so she can track cases that may have slipped by her scrutiny. 

Even with the wealth of legal resources available to lawyers and scholars through databases, websites and legal publications, having a comprehensive annual summary and analysis in one readable article provides a useful tool. The article is annually cited in the annotated notes to relevant statutes in McKinney’s Consolidated Laws of New York, the state’s official statutes. 

From a personal standpoint, reading all these cases every year enhances my teaching.  One of the most common questions media law professors get asked is: what if…? Students expect and deserve competent answers from their professors.  After reading and writing about dozens of cases every year, it helps me answer students’ questions with a reference to a recent case.  These cases also provide real, current examples I bring into the classroom.  It is especially useful when cases have not been decided by appellate courts and questions remain open for interpretation and analysis. 

If there are implications for the future or new directions for the work, what are they?

Luckily, there is never a shortage of hot topics in the field of New York media law.  Spotting trends and emerging legal issues is an exciting element of this research.  Sometimes the bigger cases get media attention, but tracking cases from the lower courts through the appellate system is interesting.  Sometimes, a trial court decision one year will reemerge a year or two later with an appellate division or Court of Appeals or Second Circuit Court of Appeals opinion.  These appellate decisions serve as both case studies and binding precedent for other courts to follow.

Signature research report uncovers student experience during COVID-19

The W2O Center for Social Commerce at the Newhouse School identifies mental wellness, lack of confidence and imbalance as byproducts of a global pandemic

More than one year since the COVID-19 pandemic began, it continues to impact every aspect of our lives. As students at Syracuse University, we and our classmates have quickly learned to adapt to virtual instruction, social distancing guidelines and safety protocols to keep the campus community safe.

The W2O Center for Social Commerce (CSC), a partnership between the Newhouse School and W2O—an analytics-oriented, insight-driven healthcare marketing and communications firm, part of Real Chemistry, a global health innovation company—sponsored a research study to understand students’ attitudes and experiences during COVID-19. The study captured approximately 200 student opinions encompassing various years of study, academic programs, organizations and living arrangements.

For college students and the entire university community, the effects of the pandemic extend beyond the classroom. It has impacted students’ confidence, made it challenging to participate in extracurricular activities and forced a “pause” on many social activities. 

The good news is that students are resilient. Each day they are finding new approaches to stay engaged in their studies, maintain connections with peers and work with faculty to share ideas and get support. 

View plain text summary

Key findings from the COVID-19 report:

1.  Social distancing guidelines impact mental wellness

Students are experiencing screen time fatigue and a decrease in mental wellness. Some students also report they feel less eager to attend class to log on to club meetings because of the challenging circumstances.

2.  Uncertainty exists around adherence to safety protocols

While many students are doing their part to slow the spread, they felt it was unlikely they could stay completely safe from others who did not take the same precautions.

3.  Utilizing in-person resources feels risky for campus community

While many resources moved to virtual settings, students struggle with the lack of in-person resources, resulting in a majority feeling disconnected.

4.  Finding professional opportunities in an unstable job market adds pressure

Many discussed how COVID-19 has impacted their post-graduate plans and caused a pivot in their expectations of entering the workforce, especially upperclassmen anticipating graduation.

5. “Silver linings” exist despite challenging circumstances

Many students have found ways to make the best of a disappointing situation. For example, some students shared that the need to maintain small social “bubbles” brought them closer to friends and roommates. Others shared that more downtime and less pressure to participate in social events allowed them to gain new perspective on their priorities and enabled them to grow on a personal level.

We are grateful to Syracuse University, the Newhouse School and the W2O Center for Social Commerce for enabling us to explore this important topic.  We believe it will be relevant for other universities looking to ensure progress in addressing current challenges and be better prepared in the future.