The purpose of the project, co-directed by School of Journalism and Mass Communication professors Friedman and Johnston, is to analyze the media coverage of sex trafficking and promote the fair and accurate reporting of the issue.
“We came together as researchers with an interest in gender issues,” Friedman said.
Friedman said they noticed a trend of criticism in the media coverage of sex trafficking that lacked evidence, which inspired their first study of sex trafficking coverage in the media.
“We are not only talking about (sex trafficking) but linking it to how it is covered in the media,” Johnston said.
Friedman and Johnston collaborate with other groups involved in the movement against sex trafficking such as survivors, social workers and law enforcement officials.
The Commission on the Status of Women within Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication gives the Donna Allen Award to a woman or group that exemplifies the values of Donna Allen, founder of the Woman’s Institute of Freedom of the Press.
Chairwoman for the Commission on the Status of Women Spring Duvall said it was the dedication of its co-directors and the real world application of their research that set the project apart.
“All of the judges commented on (the impressiveness) of the scope of the work that Dr. Johnston and Dr. Friedman are doing,” Duvall said. ”(They recognized) how passionate and committed they are to the project.”
Susan King, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said the award was an indication of how important the work of scholars is in the journalism school.
“It’s an affirmation that the work (of Johnston and Friedman) has real meaning and is a challenge for others,” King said.
She said Friedman and Johnston managed to identify an important issue in the country and receiving the recognition is an added bonus.
Friedman and Johnston were recently selected for the Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars Program, which brings together faculty in the development of engaged scholarship projects, like the Irina Project.
Friedman and Johnston said they would like to develop a standing website that will be based on their research as well as contributions from other sources like journalists and healthcare professions.
“That will help us take the project where we want to go,” Johnston said.
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