Paper presented at “Empires and Imperialisms in Communication History” Preconference, International Communication Association (ICA), May 25, 2022, Paris, FR

COMM 322: Flint Water Crisis Working Group

The Flint Water Crisis Working Group comprised of UM undergraduate and postgraduates continues monitoring the unfolding struggle for justice and reform in Flint, MI surrounding the city’s public health and political debacle over the provision of potable water. Using historical perspectives and communication and media studies research and theory, the group investigates the impact of journalistic routines and mainstream media coverage on the means through we which we learn about environmental racism and structural inequality in the digital information environment as well as the framing of intersectional issues of poverty, race, and urban life. We are particularly concerned about the challenges of disinformation and platformed news for professional reporting and the structural challenges of the past several decades that news organizations face.

The Great Lakes Association for Sound Studies (GLASS)

In fall 2019, several months before the COVID crisis struck, Professor Vaillant and the Communication and Media department welcomed over forty GLASS members to the U-M campus. Twenty-one presenters from the U.S. and Canada showcased the latest sound studies scholarship. Faculty and graduate students from across the UM participated, bringing together anthropology; art history; comparative literature; communication & media; FTVM; history, and music. View the program here.

Across the Waves: How the United States and France Shaped the International Age of Radio (University of Illinois Press, 2017) is a twice-nominated International Communication Association (ICA) book prize work. For a comprehensive overview, see H-France

‘Wrong is Normal in Flint:’ Reporting Sound Data from the Flint Water Crisis. Professor Vaillant’s 2019 Howard R. Marsh Distinguished Research Fellow lecture is appearing in print soon. Drawing on an original focus group interview with reporters who helped bring the truth to light, the article explains how and why news reporting of the poisoning of a major city water supply failed for so long to generate public outcry beyond Flint and the region and considers solutions for supporting effective public-oriented investigative journalism.

The Radio Preservation Task Force (RPTF) is an initiative linked to the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress (LOC). Professor Vaillant and colleagues coordinate efforts to identify and preserve endangered sound collections. We work with librarians, archivists, and others to find homes for materials that may otherwise be lost forever. COVID has interrupted national conferences in Washington, D.C. in the fall, but these are anticipated resume next year. 

The Global Media Studies Initiative (GMSI) continues to be a hub for COMM and MEDIA department faculty and scholars from around the world sharing ideas and mentoring graduate students and junior scholars. Professor Vaillant currently leads the group with Professor Muzzamil Hussain.

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