Faculty-student research team will examine media portrayal of Native Americans

Representations of indigenous populations in the news media is the focus of a funded research project spearheaded by Hector Rendon, assistant professor of communications at the Newhouse School.

Hector Rendon

The project, to be conducted from January to May, is funded by a grant from the Syracuse Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Engagement (The SOURCE).

Rendon will hire two undergraduate students to help conduct research about representations of indigenous populations in TV news stories. Examining the country’s four major news networks—ABC News, NBC News, FOX News and CNN—the team will seek to identify patterns of news media coverage of indigenous populations, and compare specific patterns of Native American representations among networks.

“This is a great opportunity for undergraduate students from Newhouse who want to develop research skills,” Rendon says. “I believe that this kind of project, focused on social justice, can have a positive impact on the students’ careers, and also on the community, because this will help us further our understanding about how Native American populations are generally portrayed by the news industry.”

Once the team finishes the research project, Rendon says the intention is for the study to be published in an academic journal with the student researchers as co-authors. “Publishing in an academic journal while still at the undergraduate level will give our students a great advantage in their careers,” Rendon says.

The SOURCE’s mission is to foster and support diverse undergraduate participation in faculty-guided scholarly research and creative inquiry. Student participants progress from training in research or other creative skills to designing and revising the structure of their projects to research, creative and professional contributions that are original and timely.