Spotlight Spotlighting a UH Woman Each Month

Lindita Camaj

   Dr. Lindita Camaj

      

    What is your position and title at UH?

   I am assistant professor of journalism and mass communication at the Jack Valenti School of Communication.

    How long have you worked here?

   I have been working at the UH for almost three years now. I started in August 2011.

   What are your job responsibilities and duties?

My job at the UH has three major components: teach graduate and undergraduate classes, do research in the area of mass communication, and perform professional services at my department, the UH university level, and to the research community at wide.

Do you teach or engage in research and if so, can you detail?

As a researcher and teacher at the intersection of mass communications and journalism, I focus in (1) advancing our understanding of how mass media affect and are affected by social structures and (2) discovering and promoting the best journalistic practices to foster good citizenship.

As a political and international communications scholar, my overall research goal is to emphasize culture as an important variable in media research through rigorous quantitative and qualitative methods that examine the societal functions of mass media in an internationally comparative setting. One aspect of my research agenda engages in media effects scholarship, in particular investigating the impact of news media on political knowledge, attitudes, and behavior during electoral campaigns and in a democratization context. Another aspect of my research concentrates on the effects of culture and institutions on journalism practices and media content. I am particularly interested in Freedom of Information legislation and the way it impacts access to information in emerging democracies. A big focus of my research concentrates on media and democratization processes in post-communist societies of South-Eastern Europe.

My academic work is constantly guided by the belief in the necessity to connect academic research with teaching. I rely on my expertise to design courses that are in line with my research in political and international communication and my professional experience in journalism.

I teach curses in two areas: practical journalism courses and conceptual courses about mass media. Some of the course I have taught since I have been at UH include:

Undergraduate level:

COMM 1301 – Media and Society

COMM 4310 – Opinion Writing and Blogging

COMM 4314 – Social issues in Journalism

COMM 4397 – Media and Political Campaigns

 

Graduate Level:

COMM 6397: Media and Globalization

COMM 7397: Mass Media and Politics

If you teach, what is your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy is grounded in the belief that the role of the teacher is not to tell students what to think; rather, similar to the normative role of the press in a democracy, the role of a teacher is to provide guidance regarding what to think about, as well as provide tools for critical thought. To this end, I see the teaching/learning relationship as a mutually engaging debate that emphasizes diversity and alternative viewpoints. I keep this philosophy in mind in my journalism courses as I guide my students to become skilled writers, independent thinkers, eloquent communicators, and engaged and responsible citizens.

What do you enjoy about your work?

I thoroughly enjoy discussing with my students pressing issues pertinent to journalism, mass media, and their role in society. These are very inspirational conversations that often lead not only to better educational outcomes for my students, but also to new research ideas and directions for my own work as an academic. Besides, my students help me connect with the community in which we live. For example: in the opinion writing class I teach, I ask my students to write an ongoing blog on a local issue they are interested. The themes covered in this project range from politics, to food and local restaurants, to sports. I would probably know nothing about football and the “Texans”, if it was not for my students J

What are your career goals in the next five years?

In terms of research goals, I aim to continue my research agenda in political communication and international communication. I particularly intend to apply for external grants to expand my research on access to information in South-Eastern Europe, which hopefully will result in a book.

Regarding my teaching goals, one of my future projects is establishing courses in international reporting at the Valenti school that would offer our students the opportunity to travel abroad to report on world affairs.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

I guess I am proud of being the first female in my family not only to get a PhD, but also to go to college. This resonates a lot with many of my students here at UH who are first generation college graduates as well.

What advice or encouragement would you give UH staff and students?

Never put limits to your personal growth and self-improvement! Take full advantages of the wonderful resources the UH and the city of Houston has to offer!

What is something about you than many co-workers and students do not know about you?

I trained for my first half-marathon ever while writing my dissertation. I finished the Kentucky Derby half-marathon just the day after I defended, and was sure glad it was in that order, otherwise I would have had to defend it sitting down. I have not run in a formal race since then, but I enjoy running and I like to take along in the stroller my fourteen months daughter.