Hi. I'm Amy Bree Becker.

I'm an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Loyola University Maryland. My research focuses on public opinion, political entertainment and comedy, elections and political engagement, and new media. I teach courses on communication theory, political communication, popular culture, media effects, the Internet and emerging media, and science communication.

About Me

I joined the faculty of the Department of Communication at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore as an Assistant Professor in the fall of 2014. From 2010 to 2014, I worked as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies at Towson University.

My research focuses on four areas in the field of communication: (1) public opinion and citizen participation on controversial political issues, (2) the political effects of exposure and attention to hybrid media, especially political comedy and entertainment, (3) new media and computational research methods, and (4) elections and political engagement.

I have published in a variety of communication and interdisciplinary social science journals including Human Communication Research, The International Journal of Press/Politics, The International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Mass Communication & Society, Political Communication, Public Opinion Quarterly, and Social Science Quarterly. I often offer media commentary on my research, political comedy, public opinion, polling, elections, and the new media environment. I serve as the Research Chair for the Political Communication Interest Group (PCIG) of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).

At Loyola, I teach CM203: Introduction to Communication and CM342: Media, Culture, and Society. I also teach in the university's Messina program, an initiative that offers special seminar pairings along key themes to help incoming first year students adjust to college life and work. My Fall 2015 course focused on science communication and how we use the mass media to talk about science in publicly accessible ways. My Fall 2016 course looks at quantitative communication, analyzing how statistics and data are discussed and framed in the news, across public discourse and social media, and through documentary film. I also teach a course in our M.A. in Emerging Media program that considers the social, political, cultural, and economic implications of the Internet and new media.

At Towson, I taught MCOM 490: Mass Communication Research, the department's Capstone course for graduating seniors, MCOM 631: Research Methods in Mass Communication for MA students, MCOM431/550: Public Opinion and the Press, and a freshmen writing seminar, "Popular Culture & Politics: Comedy, Entertainment, Celebrity, and Democracy," that brought my research into the classroom.

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010, earning my Ph.D. from the joint graduate program in Mass Communications. I was advised by Dietram Scheufele and was affiliated with both the Department of Life Sciences Communication and the School of Journalism & Mass Communication. While completing my Ph.D., I served as a Project Assistant at the University of Wisconsin Survey Center.

Before graduate school, I worked in the world of political polling and corporate market research, providing analysis and strategic insight to political candidates running for national and state office and for major corporations looking to redefine their brand image.

I graduated from Brown University with an A.B. in Political Science in 2000. Before enrolling at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I completed graduate coursework at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California.

While my family and I are enjoying life in Columbia, MD, as a New Jersey native, I remain a loyal fan of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band.

Publications

Teaching

Full Academic Appointments

Loyola University Maryland

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication. (Fall 2014 - )

Currently, I teach CM203: Introduction to Communication, CM342: Media, Culture, and Society, and ME 730: Social, Political and Cultural Issues & Emerging Media. I look forward to developing additional courses on public opinion, political entertainment, and media effects in the near future. I particularly enjoy developing thematic courses for the Messina program.

My 2015 Messina course adapted our Introduction to Communication curriculum to add an in-depth focus on science communication. In this course, considered how scientists, public intellectuals, and citizens use the mass media to tell the story of science. We focused on the different ways science is discussed in documentary vs. feature films and how these mediums come to shape our understanding of controversial public policy issues like the environment, public health, and the management of natural resources. We followed emerging science issues and events across mainstream news outlets and examined the level of conversation about science occurring via common social media platforms like Twitter. We also considered how important scientific figures like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Stephen Hawking, and Brian Greene have used various media outlets to transition out of the lab and into the role of public intellectual. During the 2016-2017 year, my and how we talk about data, statistics, numbers, and networks in the mass media.

CM 342: Media, Culture, and Society fulfills the diversity course requirement at Loyola University. The junior/senior elective focuses on the contemporary media environment and the mediated user experience, representations of gender, class, race, sexual orientation, and disability in popular entertainment forms including television, film, video games, advertising, and consumer products, the changing dynamics of narrative television and content delivery, and the implications of the increasing reliance on the internet and social media applications for the millennial audience.

In my sections of CM 203: Introduction to Communication, we trace the development of communication research and theory, media industries, and advertising and public relations using the same core text as all the other sections of CM 203. In my course in particular, we engage in an in-depth textual analysis, examining how core social justice issues are portrayed differently via documentary vs. narrative print journalism. We consider how different mainstream and alternative news mediums report on and track a breaking news story, and we participate in #TweetWeek, using Twitter to engage with social media as a class using the same #COM203 hashtag. Like all CM 203 sections, we wrap-up the course with a MyStory assignment, using multimedia platforms to tell our own personal story, applying the core Jesuit principle of cura personalis along the way.

In ME 730: Social, Political, Economic, and Cultural Issues and Emerging Media, we focus on the impacts of emerging media, particularly the Internet, on political and civic life. We look at how social media can spur political action by citizens and how campaigns use social media as a tool for greater mobilization. We look at the impacts of emerging media on the individual and on our collective culture. We also discuss important policy issues like net neutrality and the digital divide. This online only course is contemporary and dynamic.

Towson University

Assistant Professor & Graduate Faculty, Department of Mass Communication & Communication Studies. (2010-2014)

My favorite class at Towson was a first-year writing seminar that bridged my research and teaching interests entitled, "Popular Culture & Politics: Comedy, Entertainment, Celebrity, and Democracy." The writing intensive course examined how a whole range of cultural phenomena -- political comedy, celebrity politics, entertainment television, popular music, viral online videos, and satirical print media -- influence our political life and civic culture.

The syllabus for the course is available here.

To see the content we watched during 2012-2013, check out our course blog.

The course received considerable press coverage and was featured in a July 2012 article in The Washington Post and was named favorite class at Towson by Baltimore Magazine in the fall.

In Fall 2013, I taught MCOM 431/550: Public Opinion and the Press. The syllabus for the course is available here.

I also taught multiple sections of MCOM 490: Mass Communication Research, the department's Capstone course for graduating seniors. MCOM 490 presents a survey of quantitative and qualitative research methods and basic statistical techniques and applications.

A recent syllabus for the course is available here.

Graduate Teaching Appointments

Research

My scholarship sits at the intersection of research on mass media effects and political communication. My specific areas of interest and expertise include public opinion, hybrid media, political entertainment, civic and political engagement, research methods, computational social science, election studies, celebrity politics, science communication, and political tolerance.

I am particularly interested in understanding how various forms of hybrid media like political entertainment and comedy are redefining our shared mass media experience. At the same time, I also closely study what factors influence public opinion toward and engagement with controversial or “wedge” political issues, particularly those with scientific and/or moral dimensions like the same-sex marriage debate or stem cell research.

I am also currently working with colleagues from the field of computer science to apply techniques from machine learning in order to analyze large quantities of news content and media appearance data. These projects represent a growing interest in mixing computational social science with traditional communication research methods to analyze "bigger" data sets.

Manuscripts in Progress

Becker, A.B., & Bode, L. Learning from Last Week Tonight? Political satire, news, and net neutrality knowledge gain. (Manuscript under review).

Becker, A.B., & Waisanen, D.J. Between mirth and state: The impact of exposure to U.S. presidents’ jokes on source liking and message elaboration. (Revise & resubmit)

Bode, L., & Becker, A.B. Fly my pretties: John Oliver, net neutrality, and comedy as an agent of political activation. (Manuscript under review).

Conference Presentations by Year

2016

Bode, L., & Becker, A.B. (2016, August) Fly my pretties: John Oliver, net neutrality, and comedy as an agent of political activation. Paper accepted for presentation at the Political Communication preconference of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, PA.

Becker, A.B. (2016, February). Using comedy to increase public interest and understanding of political and science issues. Invited panelist at the annual meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Washington, DC.

2015

Becker, A.B., Copeland, L. (2015, August). Connective social media: A catalyst for LGBT political consumerism among members of a networked public. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication, San Francisco, CA.

Becker, A.B., & Goldberg, A.B. (2015, May). Connecting the comedy dots: Interview content, elaborative processing, and political satire programming. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Becker, A.B., & Todd, M.E. (2015, May). Changing perspectives? Public opinion, perceptions of discrimination, and feelings toward the family. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Waisanen, D.J., & Becker, A.B. (2015, May). The problem with being Joe Biden: Political comedy and circulating personae. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Becker, A.B. & Copeland, L. (2015, April). Networked publics: How connective social media use facilitates political consumerism among LGBT Americans. Invited paper presented at the Boston University Center for Mobile Communication studies expert workshop: Social media and the prospects for expanded democratic participation in national policy-setting, Boston, MA.

2014

Hackl, A., Becker, A.B., & Todd, M.E. (2014, November). "I am Chelsea Manning." Comparison of gendered representation of Private Manning in US and international newspapers. Paper presented at the annual conference of the National Communication Association, Chicago, IL.

2013

Waisanen, D.J.,* Becker, A.B.* (2013, November). From funny features to entertaining effects: Connecting approaches to communication research on political comedy. Paper accepted by the Political Communication Division for presentation at the annual conference of the National Communication Association, Washington, DC. * denotes equal contribution

Becker, A.B., Kaza, S., & Goldberg, A.B. (2013, August). Big data, big issues: Applying public opinion theory, machine learning, and large-scale text analysis to explore issue opinions and information flow across traditional and social media. Paper presented at the "Sentiment, Politics, and Citizenship," Political Communication preconference of the American Political Science Association, Chicago, IL.

Becker, A.B. (2013, August). Discussant, Are celebrities persuasive in politics? Theme panel accepted for presentation at the annual conference of the American Political Science Association, Chicago, IL.

Becker, A.B. (2013, August). Panelist, Exploring the use of emerging technology in the classroom during the 2012 election cycle and beyond. Teaching panel sponsored by the Communication Technology Division and Political Communication Interest Group for presentation at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Washington, DC.

Becker, A.B. (2013, June). Are the kids all right? Family status, challenges, public opinion, and gay civil rights. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, London, UK.

2012

Becker, A.B. (2012, November). Invited panelist, Empirical assessments of the impact of parody and satire. P6: Professors and Practitioners Pontificate on Political Parody and Persuasion, sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.

Becker, A.B., & Haller, B.A. (2012, August). When political comedy turns personal: Humor types, audience evaluations, and attitudes. Paper presented to the Political Communication Interest Group of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Chicago, IL.

2011

Becker, A.B. (2011, May). Pop politics? Celebrity issue advocacy campaigns and their influence on situational involvement, complacency, and apathy. Paper presented to the Political Communication Division of the International Communication Association, Boston, MA.

Xenos, M.A., Becker, A.B., Anderson, A.A., Brossard, D., & Scheufele, D.A. (2011, May). Stimulating upstream engagement: An experimental study of nanotechnology information-seeking. Paper presented to the Political Communication Division of the International Communication Association, Boston, MA.

Haller, B.A., & Becker, A.B. (2011, April). Stepping backwards with disability humor: The case of Governor David Paterson's representation on Saturday Night Live. Paper presented at the Pacific Rim International Conference on Disabilities, Honolulu, HI.

2010

Becker, A.B., Anderson, A.A., Xenos, M.A., Brossard, D., Scheufele, D.A., & Kim, E. (2010, November). Cognitive complexity of scientific issues: How anticipated discussion impacts complexity of thought. Paper presented at the second international conference on Science in Society, Madrid, Spain.

2009

Becker, A.B. (2009, November). Comedy in all its many forms: The differential influence of satire, self-ridicule, and parody on political attitudes. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research, Chicago, IL.

Becker, A.B. (2009, August). New voters, new outlook? Same-sex marriage, social networks, and generational politics. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication, Boston, MA. (Awarded Top 3 Student Paper from Mass Communication & Society Division).

Dalrymple, K.E., Becker, A.B., Brossard, D., Scheufele, D.A., & Gunther, A.C. (2009, August). Getting Citizens Involved: How controversial science policy debates stimulate issue participation during a political campaign. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication, Boston, MA. (Awarded Top Paper from Science Communication Interest Group).

Becker, A.B. (2009, May). Riding the wave of the New Jew Revolution: Watching The Daily Show with Jews for Jon Stewart. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, Chicago, IL.

Xenos, M.A., Moy, P., & Becker, A.B. (2009, May). Making Sense of The Daily Show: Understanding the Role of Partisan Heuristics in Political Comedy Effects. Paper presented at the 2009 conference of the International Communication Association, Chicago, IL.

Xenos, M.A., & Becker, A.B. (2009, January). The Daily Show and political learning: Experimental tests of the gateway hypothesis. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Southern Political Science Association, New Orleans, LA.

2008

Becker, A.B., & Scheufele, D.A. (2008, November). Public perceptions of the use of steroid in sport: Contextualizing communication efforts. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research, Chicago, IL.

Becker, A.B., & Scheufele, D.A. (2008, August). Television, perceptual filters, and personal politics: Examining public opinion toward gay marriage. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Chicago, IL.

Xenos, M.A., & Becker, A.B. (2008, May). Moments of Zen: The Daily Show, information seeking, and partisan heuristics. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, Montreal, Canada (Awarded Top Paper from the Political Communication Division).

Ho, S.S., Becker, A.B., Binder, A.R., Scheufele, D.A., Brossard, D., & Gunther, A.C. (2008, May). Do perceptions of media bias undermine citizenship? An examination across elections and issues. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, Montreal, Canada.

2007

Becker, A.B., & Xenos, M.A. (2007, November). Understanding the power of Jon Stewart: The third person effect and the comedy of The Daily Show. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research, Chicago, IL.

Becker, A.B., Dalrymple, K.E., Brossard, D., & Scheufele, D.A. (2007, May). Stem cell publics: Issue involvement in the 2006 elections. Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, Anaheim, CA.

Becker, A.B. (2007, May). Support for gay marriage and the role of religious/value predispositions: Explaining positions on a moral issue through the examination of personal beliefs. Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, Anaheim, CA.

2006

Becker, A.B. (2006, November). Making decisions based on bioethical principles: The rhetoric of end-of-life decision making. Paper presented at the annual conference of the National Communication Association, San Antonio, TX.

Becker, A.B. (2006, November). Transforming conflict in the Middle East: Establishing a productive dialogue. Paper presented at the annual conference of the National Communication Association, San Antonio, TX.

Curriculum Vitae

For a PDF copy of my curriculum vitae, click here

Media

Media Commentary

Essay for Vox on the influence of political comedy on the 2016 election (July 25, 2016). Read the feature essay here

Commentary for The Baltimore Sun on growing nostalgia for 1990's pop culture (May 12, 2016). Read the article here

Commentary on WJZ-TV/CBS Baltimore on upcoming Democratic Primary (April 22, 2016). View the clip here

Commentary on Maryland Presidential Primary on WJZ-TV/CBS Baltimore (April 21, 2016). View the clip here

Commentary on WBAL 1090AM Radio on the Super Tuesday results, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and more. Listen to the clip here

Interview with Fox Baltimore 45 and WJZ-TV CBS Baltimore on DeRay Mckesson's candidacy for Mayor of Baltimore (February 4, 2016). Watch the interview with WJZ-TV here

Interview with WJZ-TV on Maryland public opinion poll results and Governor Hogan's favorability ratings (October 15, 2015). Watch the interview here

Interview and media commentary on the Democratic Primary debate (October 13, 2015). Watch the WJZ-TV CBS Baltimore interview and read my print comments for Sinclair Broadcast Group here

Commentary on Stephen Colbert's debut as Late Show host for ABC7/WJLA Washington D.C. (September 8, 2015). Read the article here

Commentary on Jon Stewart's lasting influence on American politics on KCBS Radio San Francisco. (August 6, 2015). Listen to the discussion here

Commentary on Jon Stewart's final episode of The Daily Show and the influence of political satire on WBAL 1090AM Maryland News Now. (August 6, 2015). Listen to the show here

Commentary on public opinion toward same-sex marriage and LGBT civil rights in The Wall Street Journal after the US Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. (June 27, 2015). Read the article here

Blog post on the relationship between watching political satire and an increased likelihood to participate in politics for the London School of Economics and Political Science's blog on American Politics and Policy. (April 3, 2015). Read the post here

Commentary on Jon Stewart's legacy and impact on politics on WBAL 1090AM Maryland News Now. (February 11, 2015). Listen to the clip here

Guest on Radio National/Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Future Tense to talk about political satire and its impact on politics (February 8, 2015). Listen to the show here

Guest on Wisconsin Public Radio's Joy Cardin Show to talk about media habits and polarized politics. (October 27, 2014). Listen to the hour-long segment here

Commentary on partisan media, political polarization, and new findings from the Pew Research Center on WBAL 1090AM Maryland News Now. (October 23, 2014). Listen to the clip here

Commentary on the implications of the rise of selective exposure to partisan media and the Pew Research Center's study on media polarization in the Christian Science Monitor. (October 21, 2014). Read the article online here

Blog post for Oxford University Press on new IJPOR article examining gay rights and 25 years of public opinion data on attitudes toward employment discrimination. (October 5, 2014). Read the post here

Essay on the state of political comedy research and future directions worthy of scholarly pursuit in the National Communication Association's (NCA) Communication Currents. (February 1, 2014). Read the essay here

Essay on the importance of teaching about and researching political comedy for the University System of Maryland (USM) Faculty Voice. (October 31, 2012). Read the article here

TU in 2 Fall 2012 YouTube Lecture Series: Should politicians make fun of themselves? (October 24, 2012). Watch the video here

Commentary for WBAL-TV on the debates and social media (October 17, 2012). Watch the video here

Commentary for The Washington Post on academic interest in studying The Colbert Report (July 9, 2012). Read the article here

Commentary for Towson Patch on President Obama's decision to support same-sex marriage and the implications for Maryland (May 9, 2012). Read the article here

Commentary for The Towerlight on recent research on the same-sex marriage debate and Maryland legislation (February 23, 2012). Read the article here

Commentary for The Baltimore Sun on the Komen Foundation/Planned Parenthood controversy (February 8, 2012). Read the article here

Commentary for The Maryland Gazette on Governor O'Malley's online initiative to gather public opinion on ways to promote business development (November 4, 2011). Read the article here

Blog post for The Baltimore Sun/b the Site's Ridiculous Report by Luke Broadwater on the best political comedy clips from August 2011 (August 29, 2011). Read the blog post here

Commentary for The Christian Science Monitor on President Obama's vacation to Martha's Vineyard (August 11, 2011). Read the article here

Blog post for The Baltimore Sun/b the Site's Ridiculous Report by Luke Broadwater on the best political comedy clips from July 2011 (August 1, 2011). Read the blog post here

Appearance on Radio Times (on WHYY-Philadelphia, an NPR affiliate) to talk about political comedy with guest host Maiken Scott and comedian Lizz Winstead (July 20, 2011). Listen to the show here

Guest blog post for The Baltimore Sun/b the Site's Ridiculous Report by Luke Broadwater on the best political comedy moments from June 2011 (June 30, 2011). Read the blog post here

Commentary for The Christian Science Monitor on Donald Trump's potential foray into politics in time for the 2012 Presidential Election (April 22, 2011). Read the article here

Appearance on ABC2 News Baltimore/WMAR-TV to discuss recent research on generational differences in public opinion toward gay marriage and legislation currently being considered in Maryland (February 17, 2011). Watch the video here

ABC2 did a follow-up article on their web site. To read more about my recent research on attitudes toward same-sex marriage you can access the online article here

A follow-up radio appearance on WBAL 1090AM's Afternoon News Journal with Sheri Elliker to discuss my experience at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on the National Mall in DC (November 1, 2010). Listen here

My thoughts on attending the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear published in Towson University's student newspaper, The Towerlight (November 1, 2010). Read the article here

Radio appearance on WBAL 1090AM's Afternoon News Journal with Sheri Elliker to discuss the significance of the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear (October 29, 2010). Listen here

Commentary on the upcoming Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in B Daily, the free daily paper published by The Baltimore Sun (October 28, 2010). Read the article here

More commentary on the upcoming rally in American Observer, American University's graduate journalism magazine (October 28, 2010). Read my comments here

Video of ABC2 News coverage of Towson University's celebration of banned books (September 28, 2010). Watch the video here

Articles & Press Releases

TU Seminar, Popular Culture and Politics: Comedy, Entertainment, Celebrity, and Democracy picked as Favorite Class at Towson University by Baltimore Magazine (September 18, 2012). Read the College 101 report here

Towson Towerlight article about my participation in the White House Twitter Town Hall (July 27, 2011). Read the article here

UW-Madison news release about research on the politics of the stem cell issue (February 3, 2010). Read the release here

LSC post highlighting the findings from recent study on participation on the stem cell issue (Spring 2010). Read the post here

UW-Madison CALS news release about research on what factors influence public support for gay marriage (April 16, 2009). Read the release here

Press about my Research

Coverage of AAAS panel on humor and science communication in Science. (February 12, 2016). Read the article here

Discussion of my recent research on the impact of different comedy forms on political attitudes on Age of Engagement, the new blog by American University professor Matt Nisbet (October 28, 2010). Read more here

Discussion of recent work on participation on stem cell issue during 2006 midterm election in Wisconsin on Age of Engagement, Matt Nisbet's Big Think blog (September 7, 2010). Read the blog here

LSC post about accepting the tenure-track position at Towson University highlights recent research activity (February 2010). Read the post here

UW-Madison news release about 2009 AEJMC conference paper awards (August 6, 2009). Read the news release here

Consulting

Consulting

From time to time, I work with clients looking to design and execute quantitative and/or qualitative research projects. I help them develop survey questionnaires, define samples, and draft focus group moderator guides or structured in-depth interview protocols. I also know more than a thing or two about how to read and analyze data! Given my years of work experience in the political polling and market research sectors, I most often contract with those in the non-profit, marketing/public relations, and public policy sectors. If you need a consultant for your next research project, or an expert witness on communication and politics, please contact me for an initial consultation and discussion.

Speaking Engagements

I regularly share my research work with professional and public audiences outside the field of communication. It is an election year after all! Since I'm not the only one who watches The Daily Show for homework and appreciates a good political impersonation or joke, I spend a lot of time sharing my work on the rising influence of satire, parody, and other forms of political humor on youth engagement and political culture more broadly. I also focus on the state of political campaigns and polling. If your organization needs a guest speaker/academic, please contact me for rates and availability.

Freelance Writing

Finally, I also write and blog for other publications on a freelance basis. Please contact me with your story ideas.

Contact


Department of Communication
Loyola University Maryland
4501 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21210