By: Jordan Ayala, Kevin Garcia, Nathan Torres
Dr. Ricardo Valencia is a Communications professor at Cal State University Fullerton. More specifically he is an Assistant Professor for the Public Relation emphasis. He has been teaching since 2018 and aspires to change his Assistant Professor title to Associate Professor within this year. He received his doctorate degree from the University of Oregon in 2018. Before that between 2010 and 2014 he was the head of communication section at the Embassy of El Salvador to the United States. He also notably had a background as a reporter and covered international and domestic politics. He now teaches a variety of different classes in Communications Department one of them being Mass Media and Diversity. A class that focuses on the representations of marginalized groups in mass media and pop culture.
Description of Dr. Valencia’s study: In Dr. Valencia’s and Moscato (Co-author) study they utilized theories of framing and mediated public diplomacy to as means to influencing the perceptions of nations within public diplomacy. Using a social media content analysis to examine twitter activity; the study assesses the growing role of public audiences and their participation in “Twiplomacy”.
Stock image from Pexels
“What was your inspiration for your study?”
“This paper started when I was a PHD student in Oregon. I wanted to find with my co-author how history shapes the perception of people on Twitter. We tend to think that with the transformations of media and with the perceptions and representations of media, it changes rapididly. But I believe it could be one aspect. But at the same time, representations of media, especially about other countries, remain pretty stable throughout the years. We wanted to know how people in Cuba or people close to the Cuban government, and even people close to the Obama government perceive the opening of relations between Cuba and the United States. What we found is that those historical themes are pretty much similar or based on what happened during the Cold War.”
“What was the research method you used to conduct this study? Was it qualitative or quantitative? Both? How did you decide?”
“I use qualitative and historical methods. In that particular paper, the quantitative method to measuring the type of people who were speaking on Twitter, is mainly descriptive. In a lot of ways, it’s like a census. We were seeing who are the people that are discussing the issues on Twitter. Based on that view, we see a more qualitative approach on the topics that we’re discussing. In this case, it was pretty much quantitative, and we mention that there. But what I tend to do in my other papers is have a quantitative approach just to have an idea and see the phenomenon “
Chart from Dr Valencia’s twitter Research on #ObamainCuba
“What was one major strength and one major weakness of the way you conducted research for this project?”
“I think one of the main things that I was trying with my co-author, who’s Canadian, and I’m Salvadorean, is to see the divide between the United States, beyond just good and bad, and see the historical backgrounds. To see where all the media representation comes from in history. I think that was a strength. Perhaps one of the things I could have improved was understanding how history shaped Obama’s visit to Cuba and understanding how media and public opinion helped make this visit possible. I think a historical analysis with a mixture of media analysis would have been more powerful to have in the article. I think I could have done it. But maybe it would have been a different paper.”
“In today’s media Landscape, what platform would be interesting in conducting research on?”
“I think I would still use Twitter because it’s the main political arena. I don’t think people really care, but there are some power actors who are always on Twitter. I might go to perhaps to TikTok. That is another powerful platform. But we have been focused, as scholars of strategic communication, is that instead of understanding the general population, I am more focused on powerful actors. I want to see where and understand and especially on TikTok, to see how some elites are shaping. I would be more focused on elites, institutions, and Politicians to see how the messages have been transferred. I would include TikTok in that because I believe on TikTok, you are able to see a lot of content that you aren’t able to see on Twitter. It is also more accessible as well. We are also able to see different types of influencers as well that we didn’t see in our research who are younger. The young people who are talking about this as well who we don’t see on Twitter. It would have been interesting to see influencers from Cuba and get their perspective on the matter. We were interested in Bilingual research as well and we were very interested in seeing how language defined this trip. It’s interesting how what we refer to as social media, is only a small fraction of the media landscape. A type of media I would or should include in the future is personal messaging, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger. These are all platforms we didn’t analyze and in a lot of ways these platforms became more powerful with the election of Donald Trump and the election in Brazil. What we didn’t realize is that a lot of media and politics in Latin America are consumed through WhatsApp.
Dr. Ricardo Valencia, spoke on the inspiration for his study on public diplomacy and how the media transforms, he wanted to study the perception of the United States and other countries through social media. Dr. Valencia also explained his methodology for the study, and how he used both qualitative and quantitative methods for his study. Dr. Valencia also explains the strengths and weaknesses from this study and also how he would conduct research in 2023.