BOONE, N.C. — What standards and best practices guide digital journalists in their work, and how do these differ between cultures? Appalachian State University’s Dr. Gregory Perreault, assistant professor of multimedia journalism in the Department of Communication, has received a 2020–21 Fulbright award from the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program to explore that question through research conducted at Austria’s University of Vienna from February–July.
For his Fulbright project, Perreault will compare differences gleaned from interviews with Austrian digital journalists and their American counterparts, the latter of which were collected by students in Perreault’s journalism capstone courses at App State over the last two academic years. Specifically, he will investigate the differences in journalistic values (guiding principles such as accuracy, accountability and fairness) and journalistic practices (how news is reported) between Austrian and American digital journalists.
Perreault explained that Austria offers many opportunities for the study of digital journalism, given the strength of its overall news industry, its growth in digital media outlets and its consolidation of news media ownership. These developments are similar to those in America, according to Perreault, and the latter has decreased the number of Austria’s local media outlets.
Citing the 2020 Reuters Institute Digital News Report, Perreault said Austria has some of the highest newspaper readership in Europe. The growing digital media presence, however, has the effect of fewer people reading and subscribing to local news, he said.
“We see this same troubling trend in America, which has lost 1,300 local news sources since 2004,” he added.
“It’s important that we find ways to preserve local news,” Perreault said. “The person who would be most likely to understand the things that concern us and the possibilities that excite us is the journalist who lives in our neighborhood.”
Perreault said he will incorporate lessons learned into his courses at App State, putting new perspectives on his existing class content.
“At Appalachian we’re committed to creating ‘engaged, global citizens,’ and after this Fulbright I’ll have more to bring to the table in terms of preparing our students for the global news marketplace,” he said.
The Fulbright Program, established in 1946 under legislation introduced by former U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).
The program provides participants — chosen for their academic merit as well as leadership potential — the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. To date, more than 400,000 “Fulbrighters” have participated in the program since its inception.
Perreault earned his master’s degree in communication, culture and technology from Georgetown University and his doctorate from Missouri School of Journalism. He also holds a Bachelor of Art in communication from Palm Beach Atlantic University.
He has served as a first reader and director for theses of students enrolled in App State’s Honors College, and, prior to entering academia, he worked as a journalist for seven years and served as managing editor of a multimedia website.
Visit Perreault’s Fulbright blog to follow along on his journey.
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About the Department of Communication
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department of Communication at Appalachian State University focuses on preparing students to succeed in the varied fields within the communication industry. The department offers five majors – advertising, communication studies, electronic media/broadcasting, journalism and public relations – and a minor in communication studies. Graduates work in a wide range of positions in media, corporate, agency, government and nonprofit organizations. Learn more at https://communication.appstate.edu.
About the College of Fine and Applied Arts
Appalachian State University’s College of Fine and Applied Arts is a dynamic and innovative group of seven academic departments, bringing together a variety of perspectives, experiences and real-world education to provide unique opportunities for student success. The college has more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate majors. Its departments are Applied Design, Art, Communication, Military Science and Leadership, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, and Theatre and Dance. Learn more at https://faa.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.