Project Look Sharp Executive Director, Dr. Cyndy Scheibe, and Manager of Professional Development and Promotions, Kelsey Greene, recently presented at the National Association for Media Literacy (NAMLE) Conference in Washington D.C., which was held from June 26 - 28.
Dr. Scheibe, who also holds a faculty position as a tenured professor in the department of Psychology, presented about the concerning portrayals of mental illness and therapy on television she discovered through rigorous analysis with students working under her directorship through the Center for Research on the Effects Television (CRETV).
Their content analysis sampled 689 television shows reflecting 14 different program types (2011-2016). More than 60% of the programs contained one or more mental illness incidents or language, including negative euphemisms for mental illness (e.g., “crazy,” “nut-job,” “whacko,” “totes cray”). Results showed that television underrepresented children, teens, older adults, and people of color with mental illness, especially in portrayals of addiction. In the 1,450 incidents portraying mental illness, less than 20% included any reference to treatment and only 47 incidents involved therapists or therapy, usually shown in a negative or stereotypical fashion.
Graduate students and scholars throughout the country and abroad who attended Dr. Scheibe’s session were highly intrigued by the findings and eager to learn more about how they could apply her rigorous analysis approach to their research.
Dr. Scheibe and Ms. Greene, who is an IC alum, facilitated an interactive workshop together for roughly 30 participants on the opening day of the conference. They emphasized the importance of recognizing how news delivery has evolved due to our rapidly evolving digital landscape and the role emotions play in how we interpret information and credibility. Those who attended enthusiastically expressed gratitude for the Key Questions Project Look Sharp consistently shares and had a blast analyzing diverse forms of media spread throughout the room ranging from shampoo bottles to food labels to money.
Both Project Look Sharp members play essential roles in the national organization with Dr. Scheibe serving as one of the founding members and Ms. Greene currently sitting on the Leadership Council.
The successful conference was a great indicator of the growing interest in media literacy. Dr. Scheibe and Ms. Greene intend to increase the prominence of the pedagogical approach and critical skillset this upcoming academic year through the launch of the new Media Literacy minor.