Dr. Melita M. Garza teaches courses on media history, business journalism, and diversity in the media as an assistant professor at the Texas Christian University Bob Schieffer College of Communication. A journalism historian who focuses on how English- and Spanish-language media socially construct our world, Dr. Melita Garza has received numerous awards for her work in Mexican-American and Latino studies. In 2015, the International Communication Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) presented her with the Latino/Latin American Communication Research Award.
The award goes to the top three research papers submitted to the International Communications or Minorities in Communications divisions and recognizes Hispanic, Latino, and Latin American scholars for their research efforts in journalism, mass media, and international communication as it relates to their communities. Papers may feature any research methodologies and address a variety of topics, ranging from Inter-American and Iberian-American communications to critical media and cultural studies. Eligibility is limited to members of the Hispanic, Latino, and Latin American communities, although papers authored by multiple scholars are permitted if the first scholar listed belongs to one of thoe groups.
Sponsorship for LARA comes from the University of Arizona School of Journalism (U of A), the FIU Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC), and the Florida International University College of Communication, Architecture and the Arts (CARTA). The U of A sponsors one award, while CARTA and the FIU LACC sponsor the other two.
An assistant professor at Texas Christian University, Dr. Melita M. Garza holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a doctoral degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina. To further her research agenda, Dr. Melita Garza recently received a $1,500 Dean’s Research Grant from the TCU’s Bob Schieffer College of Communication.
The Dean’s Research Grant funded Dr. Garza’s oral history project titled “Journalists in the Long and Wide Civil Rights Movement”, which makes use of oral interviews to explore the impact of journalism as it relates to civil rights reporting. The interview recordings preserve oral testimony for historical purposes based on personal reflection and experience. Often, the taking of oral testimony is more detailed than other interviewing techniques due to the generous amount of time a respondent is given when answering questions. To ensure a sufficient account, the Oral History Association recommends several best practices. These include:
– The use of a room or studio free of noise and other distractions for good quality sound. – The recording of an introduction to summarize the goals of the session. – A pre-planned length for the interview, mutually agreed to by the interviewer and respondent. – The use of questions that are respectful of the interviewee’s wishes, balanced with the necessity of obtaining an accurate historical record. – A signed release form to ensure that the information can be shared.
Dr. Melita M. Garza, a widely published assistant professor of journalism history at Texas Christian University, concentrates on the study of social media and the intersection of media and civil rights. She has received recent acclaim for her work in the field of Latino and Mexican-American studies. In 2017, Dr. Melita Garza appeared twice on the program Movies That Matter Latino, a film series sponsored by the city of Fort Worth.
Each quarter, the free film series invites the public to the screening of a distinguished movie that highlights a Latino experience. After the screening, a panel of experts deepens the context of the film by bringing out additional meanings and interpretations.
Dr. Garza served as a panelist for the films Las Marthas and Ella Es el Matador (She Is the Matador). Las Marthas is a documentary on Laredo’s distinctive debutante ball. Many of the young women who participate are descendants of the region’s first Spanish land-grant holders, and they attend dressed as women from the Revolutionary War era.
Ella Es el Matador documents the struggles of a woman attempting to defy gender stereotypes and be accepted into the ranks of the matadors of Spain. Artes de la Rosa Fort Worth Cultural Center for the Arts collaborates with the Fort Worth Human Relations Commission to present the film series, with additional support from the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas, Fort Worth.
Dr. Melita M. Garza serves as an assistant professor at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Her focus is the history of modern American journalism, and she has developed extensive expertise on the topics of Latino and Mexican-American studies as well as civil rights and the social construction of media. Dr. Melita Garza is the recipient of a Latino/Latin American Research Award for a piece she authored analyzing the social media climate surrounding the performance of an 11-year-old Mexican-American singer at Game 3 of the 2013 National Basketball Association finals.
Young Sebastien De La Cruz sang the national anthem at the game, which was held at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. Dressed in clothing reflecting his heritage, Sebastien garnered widespread acclaim for the quality of his performance and his stage presence. It was a moment for pride and celebration in the Mexican-American community of Texas.
However, amid numerous expressions of love and support for Sebastien on social media, a number of users immediately began to write hateful, viciously prejudiced comments. Media outlets, in Spanish and English, reported on the situation in print, on the radio, on television, and online.
Dr. Garza’s article delineated the ways in which media served as a corrective social force. She observed that the media was able to provide broader context and commentary and to reframe the negative comments that would have cast the young singer as an illegitimate performer of the American national anthem.