Journalism and Media Studies Professor Dr. Jay Black Contributes to Special Report on Coronavirus Outbreak

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Dr. Jay Black

MACON – Mercer University professor Dr. James Eric (Jay) Black contributed to a special report by the American Chamber of Commerce in South China (AmCham South China) on the business impacts of the current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Dr. Black, Schumann Endowed Professor and chair of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, assisted in writing and editing the report, released earlier today by Dr. Harley Seyedin, president of AmCham South China.

“The survey of member organizations and businesses revealed quite a few differences concerning how the virus has affected foreign businesses in China. I think what surprised me the most was how their headquarters really have no clue about what is going on in-country concerning the coronavirus,” said Dr. Black.

AmCham South China contacted 399 companies between Feb. 12-16 and compiled responses to questions such as “Do you expect the coronavirus outbreak to negatively impact your estimated 2020 revenues?,” “What work options have you adopted for employees?,” and “What should the Chinese government do to reassure your business in China?”

Companies participating in the study are based mainly in the United States (53%) and mainland China (28%), with a majority of respondents being multinational corporations (49%). The study features a mix of enterprises from all sectors, led by retail/logistics/transportation (38%) and manufacturing (33%).

A majority of companies (76%) believe this year’s revenues will be impacted. Additional sanitation practices (78%) and allowing employees to work from home (74%) are cited as the most prevalent measures taken by companies in response to the outbreak.

Most of the companies (75%) say they will not change plans to invest in China, while an overwhelming majority (97%) believe that their corporate headquarters have a good handle on the impact of COVID-19 on their business in the country.

The primary difficulties reported by the companies were lack of availability of protective masks, sanitizers and other sanitary products, as well as difficulties faced in restarting operations created by various regulating authorities.

Dr. Black’s work in China dates back to 2002, when he served as faculty for a joint venture between Incarnate Word University and China South Normal University in Guangzhou. He has been teaching Western-style journalism for the past five summers at Jinan University’s International School, where he was awarded permanent visiting scholar status in 2016. He also has family members in the country.

“My family is currently quarantined in Guangdong province. My brother-in-law is the only member of the family who can leave their apartment, and that is only every other day for food,” said Dr. Black.

Dr. Black has worked with AmCham South China for each of the past three years to produce its White Paper on the Business Environment in China, an annual publication of more than 500 pages presented in both English and Mandarin.

His primary research interests involve media in transition and how the media is used to promote change. He has published on topics related to Chinese media, semiotics and Cold War pop culture. His first book, The Art of the Political Swamp: Walt Kelly and Pogo, was released by McFarland in 2016.

Dr. Black earned his Ph.D. in public communication from Georgia State University, M.A. in journalism management from the University of Kansas and B.S. in broadcast communications from Mercer. His professional background includes print, broadcast and film.

Dr. Black also contributed to three additional studies released by AmCham South China on March 18. These include the Special Report on the Impact of COVID-19 Outbreak on the Supply Chain, the 2020 White Paper on the Business Environment in China and the 2020 Special Report on the State of Business in South China.

The Special Report on the Impact of COVID-19 Outbreak on the Supply Chain provides the results of a study of 237 companies conducted March 9-14. American companies in the study make up over half of participants while European Union, China and other Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation countries represent the rest. Multinational companies make up nearly half of the companies in the study, and manufacturers represent 76% of the total.

The 551-page, bilingual 2020 White Paper on the Business Environment in China, now in its 12th year, is a six-month effort representing a highly-researched, exhaustively-cited account of the on-the-ground business environment in China.

The bilingual 2020 Special Report on the State of Business in South China, now in its 16th year, involves a study conducted from Oct. 15, 2019-Jan. 15, 2020 aggregating and analyzing the experiences of the companies who participated in the Chamber’s annual State of Business study.

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Kyle Sears