The Engaging News Project – a news media research and outreach initiative in the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin – is expanding and renaming itself the Center for Media Engagement. With additional funding provided by Moody College, the Center for Media Engagement will expand its research focus to other areas of media while continuing to release high-impact research and tools designed to help news organizations achieve their commercial and democratic goals.
Dr. Talia Stroud, associate professor of communication studies and journalism, will serve as director of the center. In addition to continuing its work in journalism, the center will partner with scholars and practitioners in fields such as advertising and marketing, information technology and health care.
The Center for Media Engagement will also enlist researchers based at universities across the country, including the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Alabama, the University of Kansas and Purdue University.
“Becoming the Center for Media Engagement is a major milestone for our researchers and staff, and we are grateful to the Moody College for this incredible opportunity,” Dr. Stroud said. “We look forward to expanding our research team and investigating new approaches for creating a vibrant media ecosystem that effectively empowers the public.”
The Engaging News Project began in 2012 with a simple idea: What if academics could play a role in improving digital news? Since then, the team has met with hundreds of journalists, released several tools and researched dozens of topics that directly affect the news industry. Some of the project’s most successful work include its research on comment sections, homepage design, clickbait headlines and the “Respect” button. Its quiz tool (available for free at mediaengagement.org/quiz-creator) has been used by more than 60 news organizations across the country.
“Through its innovative research and partnerships, the Engaging News Project has proven to be invaluable to news organizations seeking to foster robust, successful journalism in a new media landscape,” said Dr. Jay Bernhardt, dean of Moody College. “As the Center for Media Engagement, Dr. Stroud and her colleagues will provide research-driven solutions to engage digital audiences across various sectors and media.”
The Center for Media Engagement has received support from funders including the Democracy Fund, Hewlett Foundation, Rita Allen Foundation, Knight Foundation, McCormick Foundation, Lenfest Institute for Journalism, Santa Clara University, the American Press Institute, Google, Facebook, the Moody College of Communication and the University of Texas at Austin.