- More than 40 years after Kenan Professor Donald Shaw and colleague Maxwell McCombs (now at the University of Texas-Austin) conducted the first modern agenda setting study in Chapel Hill, Shaw is leading the development of a new theory of "agenda melding." This current study examines the power of the media to shape voters’ views about presidential candidates and issues during the 2008 presidential campaign. It is modeled on the original agenda-setting study that examined the role of the press in the setting of political agendas of voters in the 1968 presidential election. The research looks at how media's role in the agenda-setting process has changed with the proliferation of news sources, such as cable news and entertainment channels, news Web sites, social networking sites and blogs. Shaw is finding that people are blending media agendas to reinforce their beliefs and avoid other points of view. The agenda-melding theory seeks to better describe how audiences are drawing together information from this variety of media agendas to create their own picture of reality.
- Associate professor Frank Fee is studying an important yet often overlooked figure in the antebellum abolitionist movement, Julia Griffiths. A British abolitionist, Griffiths came to America to work closely with Frederick Douglass, helping him to realize his ambitions as a newspaper editor while directing numerous women’s antislavery activities in the U.S. and Great Britain. Douglass repeatedly praises Griffiths in the pages of his newspaper and in his correspondence, yet there has been relatively little scholarly examination of her or her contributions to the abolitionist cause. Fee seeks to locate and analyze the correspondence of Griffiths and Douglass, as well as the columns that Griffiths wrote for Douglass. Fee’s research is developing a more detailed understanding of Griffiths, as well as Douglass and his work.