Journalism prof’s research interests
include Harry Potter novels
By Sara Kercho
Star Wars movies, baseball and Harry Potter books are
shared interests among many college students and one of the newest
Texas Christian University journalism professors has taken such
personal passions and combined them with his professional endeavors.
Daxton “Chip” Stewart has conducted research about
the effects of the Harry Potter books on journalistic images. Stewart
said he feels the Harry Potter series is important because of its
impact on the upcoming generation and referred to its popularity
as a “cultural phenomenon.”
In the fourth and fifth Harry Potter books, Rita Skeeter is a
chief antagonist who publishes lies and half-truths while having
the ability to turn into a mosquito, Stewart said. The character
personifies negative journalistic stereotypes, he said.
hypothesis was that people who read the books would have worse
perceptions of journalists and the media. However, during the study
he found the exact opposite. Students who read the fourth and fifth
books had a more positive image of journalists than those students
who had not read the books.
Stewart noticed a correlation between
readership and political affiliation. Readers who considered themselves
liberal associated more positive attributes to journalists than
liberal non-readers. And conservative readers held more negative
viewpoints toward journalists than conservative non-readers. Stewart
said he believes the books could be reinforcing readers’ preconceived
images of journalists.
Stewart is currently revising his study in
order to submit it for mass communication journals. He presented
his work to the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass
Communication conference and his paper tied for second place in
the student competition in the Mass Communication and Society Division.
new Schieffer School professor holds a J.D. degree from the University
of Texas Law School and is currently a candidate for a Ph.D. in
journalism at the University of Missouri. He is the editor-in-chief
of Dispute Resolution Magazine,
a quarterly publication. His Missouri dissertation focuses on law
and the ineffectiveness of the open records and freedom of information
legislation. Stewart said he cares deeply about people’s
opinion of the media and feels it is important to diagnose the
problems and perceptions of credibility.
Stewart is also in the
process of revising and resubmitting another study this spring
Colbert Report” and viewers’ trust toward media credibility
and politics, another personal interest that ties into his journalism