Ivanka Pjesivac is a doctoral candidate in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media. Before graduate school, she worked as a reporter/producer for Serbian national television (RTS) and a foreign correspondent in The Hague covering international issues, political stories and war crimes. “As I covered international and foreign affairs topics, my work took me around Europe and around the world as well,” says Pjesivac, who landed in the United States in 2007. Learn why she decided to stay and study at the University of Tennessee.
Why did you pursue a PhD?
Experiences that I gained during my professional career inspired me to go further and study mass communication issues from an academic perspective. After spending a year in the United States on a State Department scholarship and studying the American mass media system, I decided to go to graduate school. I enrolled at the University of Tennessee, where I obtained my master’s degree and then my PhD.
Why did you select the College of Communication and Information for graduate school?
During my professional development year in the United States, I had a chance to come to the University of Tennessee and take a peek at the graduate program of the College of Communication and Information, meet professors, and even audit some classes. I immediately liked the approach to graduate work and recognized the research potential of the state flagship university. I wanted to learn how to do quality mass communication research and I thought UT would be a good place for that.
What courses/instructors were most influential in your program?
Actually, two classes that I took during my master’s program made me fall in love with communication research. It was Dr. John Haas’s quantitative research methods class and Dr. Catherine Luther’s international communication class. Dr. Haas opened the door of the social-scientific perspective for me, whereas Dr. Luther showed me how to study international communication issues from a theoretical perspective. Later, during my doctoral program, I was mostly influenced by my adviser and dissertation chair, Dr. Luther, who gave me excellent guidance and support, enormous knowledge, and research skills. I was also very fortunate to be able to work with Dr. Nicholas Geidner, who taught me so much about experimental and survey methodologies and whose positive challenging definitely made me a better researcher. From Dr. Peter Gross, who is one of the leading scholars in international communication, I gained theoretical knowledge of mass media systems around the world, whereas Dr. Candace White’s doctoral course in international and cross-cultural communication taught me how to test theories across cultures and use multinational survey methodology. Finally, I liked the in-depth approach that Dr. Mike Kotowski took in teaching quantitative methodology and statistics.
What’s the focus of your research?
International and cross-cultural communication, and new media—especially data visualizations.
(Note: Luther and Pjesivac’s article, “The framing of WikiLeaks in U.S. and French newspapers: Journalistic outlet or inciter of anarchy,” was published in the Newspaper Research Journal, 35 (1), Winter 2014.)
You graduate this summer—what’s next?
Starting August 2014, I will work as an assistant professor of digital and broadcast journalism at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Besides teaching broadcasting, I will have a chance to continue doing my research at an R1 university.
Any advice for incoming graduate students?
Try to learn as much as you can doing your doctoral program, but don’t stop learning later. Research is a calling; it is not a job.