It’s always difficult around Memorial Day to draw a bead on national reporters. Many have put their weekend stories to bed and have headed for the hills. This year, the ones who didn’t get out of town early are busy writing about BP’s Top Kill efforts (when I first heard that term, I thought it was a new competition reality show for hunters, or something). So it’s been a bit of a tough slog toward the end of the week to get much attention to UNL stories and sources.
Still, there are a couple of notable things gestating that have come from our shop:
First, a pair of professors at the College of Business Administration have released the first of what will likely be several studies about childhood obesity. Mary McGarvey and Patricia Kennedy’s work, sponsored by the USDA, is certainly topical given that the First Lady has made this one of her cornerstone issues. The new UNL study combines student, parent and school administrator surveys with analyses of individual school food policies of about 10 schools to see what factors influence student obesity. One big finding: High schools that ban a la carte junk food at lunchtime have 18 percent fewer obese or overweight students than those that do not ban the stuff. We’ve made a number of targeted pitches and are getting a lot of initial interest in their work. We’ll see if it pans out into some broader coverage.
Also, the immigration issue continues to heat up in this election year. Sergio Wals, a fairly new arrival in the department of political science, focuses his study on the politics of immigration, and his recent work on how Mexican immigrants’ premigration socialization experiences shape their political views once they arrive in the United States. In essence, Wals teases out some unique data from south of the border to show that Mexican immigrants aren’t blank slates, and shouldn’t be taken as a monolithic voting bloc for one party or the other, especially in the overheated 2010 election environment. We’ll be working up something with Wals, who is originally from Mexico City, in the coming weeks. Good stuff.