Rebecca Rolfe, a first year master’s student in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts School of Literature, Communication, and Culture Graduate Program in Digital Media, is one of six scholars to receive the Online News Association AP-Google Journalism and Technology Scholarship. Rolfe will receive a $20,000 stipend for the 2012-2013 academic year.
The new national scholarship program organized by the world’s largest membership of digital journalists, the Online News Association, targets students whose innovative projects exemplify the new journalist in the digital media age.
“There's nothing more exciting than seeing these new journalist hybrids emerging from our colleges across the U.S.," said Jane McDonnell, ONA Executive Director. "While digital media professionals continue to evolve the game, these students will transform the playing field."
Rolfe's winning thesis proposal will examine how recipients of select Oscar awards express their gratitude. She will work from a public database of transcriptions of televised acceptance speeches from the Academy Awards and analyzing them for patterns. The final product will be an online interactive data visualization that depicts an evolution of Oscar acceptance speeches over the years.
"When I talk with others about my thesis plans to digitally visualize thanking patterns in the acceptance speeches of Oscar recipients, most are receptive to the concept. But every once in a while someone suggests the focus may be a bit ... vapid,” said Rolfe. “That's totally okay. When we think of show business in journalism we think mug shots and tabloids. But it doesn't have to be that way. I'm interested in harnessing our captivation with celebrity and channeling it - specifically for this project - into a better understanding of our culture's expression of gratitude, which is as integral to actors receiving an Oscar on one special night of the year as it is to all of us every day of lives."
Read more about Rolfe and watch her proposal video.