by Kayla Saunders, Kendall Stier, Yareth Vega, and Hannah Antonopoulos
Biography Photo of Miya Williams-Fayne Ph.D. from http://visionariesimageco.com/meet-the-team/
Dr. Miya Williams-Fayne started her career in Communications as a writer and editor at a magazine company. As time passed, she realized that she wanted to become a professor. She earned her PH.D. in Media, Technology, and Society at Northwestern University. While undergoing her doctorate program, Dr. Fayne realized that she could do research that is of interest to her. She has centered her research on the digital black press evolution and in doing so has become an expert in her field. In her paper The Great Digital Migration Exploring What Constitutes the Black Press Online, Dr. Fayne attempts to define the black press in the digital era. Those who have previously or currently worked at a black news outlet were interviewed. This led her to the conclusion that black media outlets are not required to be black owned and that entertainment news has a large presence in the black press (Fayne 2020). In this interview she talks about the research process behind the paper and goes in depth of how the interviews were conducted.Read more: Interview with Dr. Miya Williams-Fayne
Q. How did you choose the black news outlets
- Dr. Fayne began her research with an outlet called Journa-lisms where they had published a list of the top black press sites. Using this as a base for her study, she then used her colleges for recommendations and was able to receive outreach from there. She used snowball sampling by asking other journalists who she should speak to next. She also comments on how she intentionally added a few legacy outlets to her research that went along with her digital outlets. Dr. Faye makes note that some of her outreach was not received, and she had to move on and find other outlets, but at the same time, she was able to have some reach out to her.
Q. How did you organize your data
- Dr. Faye explains that she was able to organize her data using the software MAXQDA, which allowed her to input all of her findings and then code. Her method of coding, she says, was as she went along. From this, there were times she would have to recode her data over again. She found more nuance as she was identifying her data, which would require her to recode. This was helpful to her once she began analyzing her data because it helped to single out the nuances. For the coding specifically, she said that she went by topics that she wanted to write about in her paper, making a note of each one. She gives helpful advice as she explains how she tends to overcode her data, rather than undercoding which would be too broad – making it harder to find answers in the data.
Q. Why did you do interviews instead of surveys?
- “With anything that is qualitative, you can’t get to the why.” With qualitative research you can get an idea of the cause but not the reason behind the cause. She wanted to secure those perspectives, interviews give much more information and context. With an interview, you can ask follow up questions, get deeper responses that help you contextualize what people are saying.
Q. Did you have a time period that defined the traditional black press?
- For Dr. Faye states that she did not use a specific time period for her research. Instead, she made sure to use ones that originated in print, meaning the ones that were not a digital-first outlet. Ones that were not digital first outlets, what are considered, “Legacy” or “Traditional”.
Journalists at the headquarters of the Baltimore Afro-American Getty Images 2018 from https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/critical-role-black-press-civil-rights-movement-has-not-received-ncna859701
Q. Did your previous research indicate that black news outlets were more likely to produce larger amounts of entertainment news or was that new?
- No, it was already her perception which is why she wanted to do this study because it was different and no one was talking about it. She went into it already having that perception which was supported by her lived experiences – not surprising her at all. When she interviewed the legacy outlets, she found it interesting to learn how they perceived that, which made sense but caught her by surprise when they were more critical of the entertainment content than she expected. There was a clear difference in ideologies between the digital first outlets and the legacy outlets.
Q. Is there anything you would warn us not to do in our research?
- Dr. Faye explains how it is important to always get permission to record a conversation before it starts. Even though there are different approaches, she feels it’s safer to let the interviewee know that everything is on the record to avoid confusion. She advises to keep contact to a limit of three emails, with a week in between, to avoid coming off as stalkerish. One thing she notes that is good to do, is ask, “Do you have anything else to add to the conversation?”, at the end of the interview. This gives the interviewee space to share any details they feel are important to add that they might not have gotten the chance to do previously.
Through the process of database searching, emailing, reaching out to colleges and snowball sampling, Dr. Fayne’s ability to get multiple perspectives on the current state of the black press. Conducting interviews gave her possible reasons as to why entertainment has a large presence in black journalism. While she was not surprised by the dominant presence of entertainment news in black journalism, she was intrigued by the amount of criticism some black journalists gave towards those media outlets. When asked for advice on how one could conduct their own research she states to always ask for permission to record, never let the interviewee speak off the record, only email someone three times with a one-week gap in between. Lastly, she states that it is a good idea to ask the interviewee if there’s anything else they would like to add as they might provide more insight to the research.
Getty Images. (2018). Journalists at the headquarters of the Baltimore Afro-American . The critical role of the black press in the civil rights movement has not received the attention it deserves. photograph, Baltimore, Maryland; THINK. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/critical-role-black-press-civil-rights-movement-has-not-received-ncna859701.
Visionaries Image Company. (n.d.). Biography Photo of Miya Williams-Fayne Ph.D. photograph. From http://visionariesimageco.com/meet-the-team/
Williams-Fayne, M. (2020). The Great Digital Migration: Exploring what constitutes the Black Press Online. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 97(3), 704–720. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699020906492