By Walker Chavatel, University of Delaware junior and Center for Political Communication intern
MAY 10, 2019―At what point does theory coincide with real-world implications? Insert the Delaware Model, a guide for public administration education developed by the University of Delaware's Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration. The Delaware Model encompasses the "bigger picture" of politics for both students and professors. This approach rests at the foundation of what it means to be a Blue Hen for Danilo Yanich, an associate professor at the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration and the director of the MA degree program in Urban Affairs and Public Policy. Yanich is also an affiliated faculty member at UD's Center for Political Communication. His career at UD spans nearly 30 years, and his intrigue with the "Delaware Model" has notably encouraged his loyalty.
"The way we practice [the Delaware Model] here in the school," says Yanich, "is through a real connection between the scholarly work and the 'service' side, the policy research and analysis work." Yanich finds great fulfillment in his work both inside and outside the classroom at UD, as his academic studies have promoted real-world implications with policy. His work in policy has been used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other media reform groups, illustrating how the Delaware Model has guided his aspirations. To Yanich, this sort of model is commonly discussed at other universities, but UD's ability to execute such a mission statement is rather unrivaled.
Yanich's academic career began at age 28. He rarely questioned his career path as he sought "another body of theory that would put what I was experiencing into a larger context." He reflects on his decision to pursue academia. "You either want it or you don't. After you make that decision, it's pretty easy." He also finds "political reality" outside academia with consulting positions at the Delaware Department of Community Affairs and the Delaware Board of Parole.
After completing his doctoral work, Yanich began studying overcrowding in Delaware prisons, where he states that overcrowding was an "artifact of policy, and not an artifact of increased crime." At the time, the Governor of Delaware was contemplating building a new prison to account for overcrowding, but was also aware that issues of overcrowding originated in policy. Although these foundational issues were acknowledged, the Governor believed that the public's understanding of crime was too influential. Yanich questioned how society perceives crime, and ultimately found an answer within the media's ability to construct understandings within the audience.
Yanich currently researches the local television industry. "I just finished my book, and I am hardly waiting now for the comments of reviewers, because you have to look forward to that." His book, Buying Reality: Political Ads, News & Money, examines the 2016 election at the presidential and down-ballot level in ten television markets in the US—nine of which were in battleground states. Where did the TV political ads go? Where was the money spent? What did the local TV news cover?"
Yanich also examines the effects of consolidation within the media, where a concrete definition of "market" is continuously debated. In the future, he hopes to study "the existential threat of the media becoming an institution in the United States."