Research Publication Roundup

A vibrant and collaborative interdisciplinary research culture at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media creates new knowledge, advances scholarship and helps reinvent media.

Associate Professor Nori Comello and Ph.D. student LaRisa Anderson recently published work addressing the development of a digital health intervention designed to increase COVID-19 vaccination in Black young adults in North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama; nearly 60 participants from North Carolina completed the online survey. More details on this study are listed below, along with a list of other recently published or presented scholarship by UNC Hussman faculty and students. The roundup also includes two publications for Assistant Professor Xinyan Zhao, a first-author publication by master's student Monica Crawford and two upcoming presentation for doctoral student Andrea Lorenz.


Crawford, M. (2022). Speaking up and speaking out: Collective voice in women’s sports media. Communication & Sport.

This qualitative, textual analysis of Just Women's Sports, an online sports media platform, considers whose voices are represented – and how those voices are portrayed. The findings suggest that Just Women's Sports prioritizes a diverse group of women who promote an inclusive and activist community. Implications for the theoretical study of women’s sports media are discussed.

Stoner, M.C.D., Tweedy D., Comello, M.L.G., Toval, C., Pettifor, A.E., Adams, M.L., Baez, A., Maragh-Bass, A.C., Tolley, E.E., Browne, E.N., Anderson, L., Muessig, K.E., Budhwani, H., Hightow-Weidman, L.B. (2022). Using narratives to inform the development of a digital health intervention related to COVID-19 vaccination in Black young adults in Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama. Vaccine.

To adapt a pre-existing, interactive application to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among young Black adults, the researchers conducted an online survey of 150 young Black adults in Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina. Participants responded to questions about two simulated vaccine discussions. Participants’ responses varied by vaccine status. The findings suggest that changing social norms alone may not increase vaccine uptake. Instead, interventions should also address concerns about autonomy and vaccine safety. Narratives chosen for the interactive app reflect these concerns. Further implications for the findings in the light of the evolving pandemic are discussed. 

Taillie, L.S., Higgins, I.C.A., Lazard, A., Miles, D.R., Blitstein, J., & Hall, M.G. (2022). Do sugar warning labels influence parents’ selection of a labeled snack for their children? A randomized trial in a virtual convenience store. Appetite, 175, Article 106059.

The researchers investigated the impact of a front-of-package warning label about high sugar content on parents’ likelihood to select a snack for their child in a food store setting. More than 2,000 participants of at least one child between 1 and 5 years of age completed a shopping task in a virtual convenience store. Participants were shown one labeled and one unlabeled granola snack and were asked to pick one to purchase. The labels were one of three types: Barcode control, text-only sugar warning label or pictorial sugar warning label. Parents exposed to either warning label (text or picture) were significantly less likely to select the labeled snack than those who were exposed to the barcode control. Compared with the control, the text and pictorial labels also elicited greater attention, negative affect and perceived message effectiveness; these labels also lowered perceptions of healthfulness and intentions to purchase. There were no significant differences between text and pictorial labels. Implications for food marketing policy are discussed.   

Zhao, X., Wang, X., Ma, Z., & Ma, R. (2022). Primacy effect of emotions in social stories: User engagement behaviors with breast cancer narratives on Facebook. Computers in Human Behavior.

This study examined the roles of emotions and emotional shifts on user engagement behaviors on Facebook. Analyzing more than 400 Facebook narratives by multiple breast cancer organizations, the investigators found a primacy effect of emotions in social stories, as negative emotions in the initial segment of a story increased user engagement behaviors. Specific emotional shift patterns were associated with user engagement behaviors, with a negative-negative emotional shift was more engaging than either a positive-positive or positive-negative. The authors discuss how organizations can use social media to tell emotionally engaging stories, in light of the present findings.

Liu, W., & Zhao, X. (2022). How communication ecology impacts disaster coping in multiethnic communities: The roles of disaster communication network size, heterogeneity and localness. Mass Communication & Society.

Advancing a network concept of disaster communication ecology, the study investigates how the sizes, heterogeneity and localness of individuals’ disaster communication networks predict the frequencies of seeking emotional, informational and physical support during the 2021 Texas winter storm. Using survey data collected from a multiethnic community, the results indicate that different network properties of disaster communication ecologies vary across different ethnic groups and are related to different types of support seeking. The localness and heterogeneity of intrapersonal ties significantly varied across major ethnic groups. Implications for disaster communication are discussed.



National Communication Association 108th Annual Convention
November 17 – 20, 2022 | New Orleans

Bach, P. (2022). Missing the joke: The case for the significance and study of conservative irony [Conference presentation]. NCA 2022 Convention, New Orleans, LA, United States.

Lorenz, A. (2022). “Expected to be all of these things that some of us just simply are not”: Construction of women’s political candidate identities at the intersection [Conference presentation]. NCA 2022 Convention, New Orleans, LA, United States.

Lorenz, A. (2022). Finding our PLACE in activism and social justice: A rich discussion about in-progress works from graduate students in the division [Conference panel presentation]. NCA 2022 Convention, New Orleans, LA, United States.


The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS)
November 3 – 6, 2022 | Vancouver, BC, Canada

Galper, E. (2022). Meta-analysis: Impact of eHealth interventions on sexual health outcomes [Conference presentation]. SSSS Conference, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research (MAPOR) Annual Conference
November 18 – 19, 2022 | Chicago

Brooks, E. (2022). Not so “affective” after all? Examining the predictive power and salience of affective polarization on detrimental American political behavior [Conference presentation]. MAPOR 2022 Conference, Chicago, IL, United States.


Sixth International Conference on Family Planning
November 14 – 17, 2022 | Pattaya City, Thailand

Whitmarsh, S., Choge, I., Ewuola, B., Matawa, G., Nahar, M., Shariff, H., Walukamba, A. G., & Yusuph, N. Strategic media coverage reinforces policymaker action on family planning during COVID-19: Results and learnings from six countries [Conference presentation]. ICFP, Pattaya City, Thailand.