University instructor published

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Brandon Szuminsky

Brandon Szuminsky, instructor of communication at Waynesburg University, was recently published within an edited anthology marking the 75th anniversary of the iconic “War of the Worlds” broadcast.


Szuminsky co-authored “Mediating Misinformation: Hoaxes and the Digital Turn,” one of the chapters within “War of the Worlds to Social Media: Mediated Communication in Times of Crisis.” Szuminsky partnered with Dr. Zach Stiegler, assistant professor of communications media at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), to write the chapter with the goal of showcasing the history of media hoaxes and exploring why the public is so perceptible to them.


"‘War of the Worlds' is one of the most notable events in early communication research and one that continues to have resonance today,” said Szuminsky. “Hoaxes—whether they are on social media or mass media—have the power to instill fear, at worst, or sow confusion, at best, and speak to the impact that media can have on our lives; so having a better understanding of what makes us so susceptible to these spurious messages is a worthwhile endeavor.”


The pair's research focused on how hoaxes have changed and stayed the same through time and advances in social media. Within the chapter, Stiegler and Szuminsky argue that the success of media depends on trust, intimacy or sometimes a combination of both. Opportunities for hoaxes have increased with social media due to the possibility of user-generated hoaxes and the growing trend of speed over accuracy.

Szuminsky first became involved with the project while attending Stiegler's classes for his doctorate at IUP. After writing about the seminal study by Henry Cantril on the “War of the Worlds” broadcast, Stiegler invited Szuminsky to become a part of the contribution to the book.

The book, published by Peter Lang Publishing, can be purchased online and in bookstores.




Contact: Ashley Wise, Communication Specialist


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