Sunday, October 27, 2013

Research Report: Jill Maher, Kenneth Herbst, Nancy Childs and Seth Finn

Jill Maher, Kenneth Herbst, Nancy Childs and Seth Finn’s article, “Racial Stereotypes in Children’s Television Commercials,” touches on issues of race and advertising exposure. They claim the issue is important because, “expectations and assumptions created by media are so strong that it can take time to disentangle reality from perception.” The authors investigate “ethnic representations in children’s television advertising” and the “presence of ethnic stereotypes in character portrayals.” Arguments highlighted in the article include how representation of ethnic groups in children’s television advertisements is not proportional to the real population proportion and that Caucasians and Asians are more positively stereotyped and interact less with Hispanics and African Americans, who have more negative stereotypes.

Jill Maher is currently a professor of marketing at Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania. Maher has a Ph.D. in Marketing from Kent State University. According to Maher’s Robert Morris University profile, Maher’s area of focus is on areas related to advertising focused on child consumers. Seth Finn is also a professor at Robert Morris University who teaches communications with a Ph.D. from Stanford University. Kenneth Herbst is an assistant professor at Wake Forest University with a Ph.D., and researches topics that include food marketing and consumer decisionmaking. Like Herbst, Nancy Childs also researches the food industry and is a professor of food marketing and international business at St. Joseph’s University.

All four authors have Ph.D.s and specialize in related areas such as marketing, the food industry, decisionmaking, marketing and the social and environmental factors that influence and are influenced by media. As professors performing and publishing research, each author is more than familiar in the article’s topic, but they still include an extensive list of references because the article was written for an academic journal, the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR). This demonstrates what Kovach and Rosenstiel call “clarity of method”. The authors also clearly state what they know and what they do not yet know, which also nods to Kovach and Rosenstiel’s depiction of good journalism.

In terms of audience, the authors were likely writing for an academic demographic. According to the JAR website, the journal’s “primary audience is practitioners of all levels of practice,” and it aims to encourage “dialogue between practitioners and academics.” The authors acknowledge their audience by pointing out the implications of their research. They are both urging advertisers “to be aware of the negative consequences of negative portrayals,” while at the same time, they are possible providing more material for “aggressive marketers they may be able to exploit ethnicity and use it to build brand loyalty.”

As with any form of media presented to us, we do not have to accept every claim as truth, but Maher, Herbst, Childs and Finn’s article sits high on the spectrum of trustworthiness according to Kovach and Rosenstiel’s criteria for good journalism. As an article published in an academic journal and reviewed by the journal’s editors, written by four professors carrying both their reputations and their universities’ reputations, we may be more confident in considering the arguments.


"Faculty/Staff: Jill K. Maher." Profile. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.
"Faculty/Staff." Profile. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.
"Journal of Advertising Research - Overview." The Advertising Research Foundation -. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.
"Kenny Herbst | WFU Schools of Business." Kenny Herbst | WFU Schools of Business. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.
Kovach, Bill, and Tom Rosenstiel. Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload. New York: Bloomsbury, 2010. Print.
"Nancy M. Childs, Ph.D." Saint Joseph's University. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.

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