Nicole Dahmen

Every year, the University of Oregon’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation selects exceptional faculty members to receive Faculty Research Awards. After an extensive application review process, select faculty members from departments across campus are granted funding to support their research projects.

On the impressive list of faculty members who received one of the Faculty Research Awards this year was School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) Assistant Professor Nicole Dahmen. She will use the grant to help fund her research about the visual presentation of candidates in the 2016 presidential campaign, which is a follow-up to her recently published article about imagery in the 2012 election.

 Dahmen’s current study focuses on candidate-controlled and mass-mediated images of the 2016 presidential candidates during their campaigns and takes a closer look at the value of visual communications in the political world.

 “While the use of visuals is certainly an understudied area in political communication, there is a line of research that has considered photographs in presidential elections,” Dahmen said. “My research will continue this critical scholarship from a systematic perspective. Where my research and experience become cutting edge is in the inclusion of social media communications, which allow candidates a direct means by which to communicate with the voting public.”

 Previous research has found clear evidence that visuals of different candidates are often treated differently by the news media. And news media images have an influence on public perception of political candidates.

 “Historically, this line of research has focused on print news in presidential elections. But as we well know, print news is in decline and more voters are turning to online news sources,” Dahmen said. “In a digital age, media scholars must think beyond print to also consider how candidates are directly presenting themselves to voters via social media.”

Story by Nikki Kesaris ’18