Story by Aaron Weintraub
This coming academic year, you won’t be able to find Professor Scott Maier, director of the Journalism Department at the UO School of Journalism and Communication, in his office at Allen Hall or in a journalism classroom. But he has a good reason.
Maier will be in the United Kingdom at the University of Oxford’s Reuters Institute of Journalism, where he has a fellowship to research the relationships between the human rights coverage of U.S. and British mainstream media outlets and each country’s national interests.
“What I find is that [factors such as] economics, military and distance from the United States all matter more than actually what’s going on in the countries,” Maier said. “What I proposed to [research at] Oxford is to compare the U.S. coverage of human rights with how the United Kingdom covers human rights… When I was presenting these results last year, the audience was saying: ‘What about The Guardian?’ which is one of the world’s best newspapers, ‘What about The BBC?’ which is has a long history of covering the news. I don’t know. But I intend to find out.”
Maier’s research began at first exclusively with U.S. news outlets. He found his research topic became increasingly relevant to world events as controversies ignited over the U.S. government’s treatment of immigrants and refugees slid into the forefront of international political discussion.
“I’ve looked at news coverage with The New York Times, NBC television and TIME magazine to see how they’ve covered human rights over a given year, and they compare that to an index of how severe human rights abuses occur,” Maier said. “Not surprisingly, there is a correlation: The worse things are, the more news coverage there is. But it’s a very weak correlation.”
As such debates over immigration and aid dominate U.K. politics as well, Maier hopes to draw conclusions about how the two first-world countries handle crises.
Maier is taking a sabbatical leave from the SOJC over the 10 weeks of fall term and a subsequent 10 weeks in winter term to pursue the fellowship. He says lager beer and “Twiglets,” a popular British breadstick snack, are what he’s looking forward to most abroad.
“But also, more seriously, to immerse myself with one of the world’s premier research institutions in journalism,” he said. “And there’ll be people not only from the U.K., but from all over Europe and the world looking at what’s happening in a very fast-changing world. So just to have that opportunity to absorb and participate is going to be very exciting.”
Aaron Weintraub is a senior in the SOJC studying journalism and Arabic, which he hopes to use as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East. This is his first year working as a digital media intern for the SOJC’s Communications Office. In the past, he studied Arabic and Islamic studies in Keble College at Oxford University and at the Qasid Institute in Amman, Jordan, where he worked as an independent feature writer during the summer of 2016. He has also served as a writer and photographer for the UO’s environmental publication, Envision Magazine. You can find Weintraub’s collection of photography, much of which he took while traveling, at aaronweintraubphotos.wordpress.com. When he’s not writing or shooting photos, he enjoys climbing, biking and other activities that occasionally injure him.