Prospective Graduate Students

UW-Madison ranks as one of the top universities for communication and media studies in the world. Our doctoral program in mass communication, jointly administered with the Department of Life Sciences Communication, is ranked first in the nation among public universities. We place 87% of our Ph.D. graduates in university positions, with 47% in top-tier research institutions. In addition:

  • Our faculty offer strong mentorship
  • We are methodologically pluralistic
  • Our faculty engage in collaborative research
  • Madison offers an amazing community and high quality of life

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is internationally recognized in many areas of research and teaching, including:

  • civic and political communication
  • health, environmental and science communication
  • history of communication
  • information technologies
  • social networking and digital media
  • international, inter-cultural and intra-cultural communication
  • law and ethics of media
  • processes and effects of mediated communication

Work with Internationally Recognized Faculty

Kathleen Culver
PhD, 1999, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Areas of Focus: media ethics, media law, new and emerging technologies, free expression, digital journalism, citizen participation in news, content marketing
Brief Biography: Kathleen Bartzen Culver is an assistant professor in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism & Mass Communication and associate director of the Center for Journalism Ethics. Long interested in the implications of digital media on journalism and public interest communication, Culver focuses on the ethical dimensions of social tools, technological advances and networked information. She combines these interests with a background in law and the effects of boundary-free communication on free expression. She also serves as visiting faculty for the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and education curator for MediaShift.
Full Biography:
Representative Publications:
Culver, K. From Battlefield to Newsroom: Ethical Implications of Drone Technology in Journalism. Journal of Mass Media Ethics (2014).
Culver, K., and Mirer, M. Constrained Independence: Digital Branded Content in Sports through the Lens of Journalism Ethics. In Don Heider and Bastiaan Vanacker, Ethics for a Digital Age. Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang (2016).
Culver, K. Disengaged Ethics: Code Development and Journalism’s Relationship with “the Public.” Journalism Practice (forthcoming).

Lewis Friedland
PhD, Sociology, 1985, Brandeis University
Areas of Focus: public sphere, civil society, political communication, communication ecology, social networks, urban communication, communication policy, qualitative research
Brief Biography: Lew Friedland is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and Leon Epstein Fellow. He is currently writing “Communication and Civil Society” (Polity Press). With other SJMC faculty (Shah, Wagner, Wells), he is constructing a framework of the political communication ecology of Wisconsin with the goal of understanding state-level communication in a federal democracy. He is co-editing “America’s Communication Crisis” with Mark Lloyd (Palgrave), which grows out of a 2012 report on America’s community information needs for the FCC, for which he was first author. He founded and has published the Madison Commons community news site for the past decade.
Full Biography:
Representative Publications:
Friedland, L.A. “Networks and Place,” American Behavioral Scientist, 1-19 (published online August 2015).
Friedland, L.A., Hove, T.B. , & Rojas, H. “The Networked Public Sphere.” Javnost the Public, 13(4) (2006).
Friedland, L.A. “Communication, Community, and Democracy: Toward a Theory of the Communicatively Integrated Community.” Communication Research, 28(4): 358-391 (2001).

Lucas Graves
PhD, 2013, Columbia University
Areas of Focus: sociology of news, news ecologies, journalism studies, political communication, science and technology studies, ethnography
Brief Biography: Lucas Graves studies emerging forms of journalism and political communication in the United States and internationally. His book, Deciding What’s True: The Fact-Checking Movement in American Journalism, will be out in 2016 from Columbia University Press. Previously Graves worked as a technology and media analyst in New York and São Paulo, and as writer for Wired magazine and other business and consumer publications.
Full Biography:
Representative Publications:
Graves, L. “Provide Real-Time Fact Checking for the Presidential Debates.” New York Times (October 13, 2015), .
Graves, L. & Konieczna, M. “Sharing the News: Journalistic Collaboration as Field Repair.” International Journal of Communication 9 (2015): 1966–1984.
Graves, L. “Blogging Back then: Annotative journalism in IF Stone’s Weekly and Talking Points Memo.” Journalism 16, no. 1 (2015): 99-118.

Douglas McLeod
PhD, 1989, University of Minnesota
Areas of Focus: media framing, framing effects, social movements and the media, media and social conflict, strategic communication, cognitive effects of mass media, theory and effects of mass communication, mass media and public opinion
Brief Biography:
Douglas McLeod is the Evjue Centennial Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication. His research develops three lines of inquiry: 1) social conflicts and the mass media; 2) media framing effects; and 3) public opinion. He focuses on the role of the media in both domestic and international conflicts, news coverage of social protest and its effects on audiences. McLeod has published more than 100 journal articles, book chapters and law reviews. He recently published News Framing and National Security: Covering Big Brother, which examines how news framing of domestic surveillance influences audience assessments of issues related to national security and civil liberties.
Full Biography:
Representative Publications:
McLeod, D. M., & Shah, D. V. (2014). News Frames and National Security: Covering Big Brother. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
McLeod, D. M., McLeod, J. M., & Kosicki, G. M., (2009). Political communication effects. In J. Bryant & M. B. Oliver (Eds.). Media effects: Advances in theory and research, 3rd ed., Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
McLeod, D. M., & Hertog, J. K. (1999). Social control and the mass media’s role in the regulation of protest groups: The Communicative Acts Perspective. In D. Demers and K. Viswanath (Eds.) Mass media, social control and social change. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press, pp. 305-330.

Lindsay Palmer
PhD, 2014, UC Santa Barbara
Areas of Focus: ethics, qualitative methods, international communication, global studies, war and conflict, race and ethnicity, gender and feminist studies
Brief Biography: Lindsay Palmer studies the labor of war reporting from a qualitative perspective. More broadly, she studies global media ethics. Palmer draws upon ethnographic methods, archival/historical research, and critical discourse analysis. Her book on war reporting after 9/11 is forthcoming with the University of Illinois Press in 2017.
Full Biography:
Representative Publications:
Palmer, L. (2015) “News Tourism: Interactivity, Transparency, and ‘World News’ at the Newseum,” International Journal of Cultural Studies (Online First, print version forthcoming).
Palmer, L. (2015) “Outsourcing Authority in the Digital Age: Television News Networks and Freelance War Correspondents,” Critical Studies in Media Communication, 32.4: 225-239.
Palmer, L. (2014) “CNN’s Citizen Journalism Platform: the Ambivalent Labor of ‘iReporting,’” in Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives, 2nd Edition, ed. Stuart Allan and Einar Thorsen (Peter Lang: NY) 27-38.

Karyn Riddle
PhD, 2007, UC Santa Barbara
Areas of Focus: media effects, media violence, quantitative research, video games, vividness, cultivation, children and media
Brief Biography: Karyn Riddle is an Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Her research focuses on the psychology of media effects with an emphasis on the effects of exposure to media violence. Most recently, she has explored media violence vividness, the degree to which a violent portrayal is graphic, explicit and memorable. She runs the Vilas Video Game Laboratory, where she conducts research on violent video game effects. She also studies children’s fear responses to media violence, with a focus on violence in the news.
Full Biography:
Representative Publications:
Riddle, K. (2014). A theory of vivid media violence. Communication Theory, 24, 291 – 310.
Bonus, J. A., & Peebles, A. & Riddle, K. (2015). The influence of violent game enjoyment on hostile attributions. Computers in Human Behavior, 52, 472 – 483.
Riddle, K., Cantor, J. , Byrne, S. , & Moyer- Gusé, E. (2012). “People killing people on the news”: Young children’s descriptions of frightening television news content. Communication Quarterly, 60, 278 – 294.

Sue Robinson
PhD, 2007, Temple
Areas of Focus: journalism studies, media ecology, networks, digital technology, cultural studies, qualitative methods, information authority, social media
Brief Biography: A former reporter, Sue Robinson teaches and researches how journalists, bloggers, activists and others use digital technologies to navigate social, political, cultural and other networks and challenge power hierarchies. She is interested in how we can use digital technologies to amplify marginalized voices in particular, and is currently writing a book about that called Networked Voices, using Bourdieu and network analysis.
Full Biography:
Representative Publications:
Working Manuscript: Networked Voices: Talk About Race in Journalism Fields & Digital Mediated Ecologies
Robinson, S. (Ed.) (2015). Community Journalism Midst Media Revolution. New York: Taylor & Francis.
Robinson, S. (2011). Journalism as Process: The Labor Implications of Participatory Content in News Organization. Journalism & Communication Monographs, 13(3), 138-210.

Hernando Rojas
PhD, 2005, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Areas of Focus: political communication, international communication, digital media, civic engagement, deliberation, media effects
Brief Biography: Hernando Rojas serves as the Helen Firstbrook Franklin Professor of Journalism. His research areas: (a) the deployment of new communication technologies for social mobilization; (b) the influence of audience perceptions of media (and audience perceptions of media effects) on both public opinion and the structure of the public sphere; and (c) the conditions under which media support democratic governance. He currently serves as Co-Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Public Opinion Research and multiple editorial boards and has held leadership positions in professional associations including AEJMC, ICA and WAPOR. Rojas is editor of four books and author of more than 70 articles and book chapters.
Full Biography:
Representative Publications:
Rojas, H. (2015). Egocentric publics and perceptions of the worlds around us. In New Technologies and Civic Engagement: New Agendas in Communication, edited by H. Gil de Zuniga. New York: Routledge
Rojas, H., Shah, D.V., & Friedland, L. A., (2011). A communicative approach to social capital. Journal of Communication, 61, 689-712.
Rojas, H. (2010). “Corrective” actions in the public sphere: How perceptions of media effects shape political behaviors. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 22, 343-363.

Dhavan Shah
Ph.D., 1999, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Areas of Focus: political communication, health communication, social capital and civic engagement, framing and priming, online communities, digital media, information and communication technologies
Brief Biography: Dhavan V. Shah is Maier-Bascom Professor at the University of Wisconsin, where he is Director of the Mass Communication Research Center (MCRC) and Scientific Director in the Center for Health Enhancement System Studies (CHESS). His work concerns framing and cueing effects on social judgments, digital media influence on civic and political engagement, and the impact of ICTs on chronic disease management.  Across these domains of work, he has increasingly applied computational techniques to tackle social science questions. He is housed in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, with appointments in Industrial and Systems Engineering, Marketing, and Political Science.
Full Biography:
Representative Publications:
Shah, D.V., Cappella, J., and Neuman, W.R. (eds). Toward Computational Social Science: Big Data in Digital Environments. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, May 2015.
McLeod, D.M. and Shah, D.V. News Frames and National Security: Covering Big Brother. New York: Cambridge University Press, January 2015. (ISBN- 978-0521130554).
Gustafson, D.H., McTavish, F.M., Chih, M.Y., Atwood, A.K., Johnson, R.A., Boyle, M.G., Levy, M.S., Driscoll, H., Chisholm, S.M., Dillenburg, L., Isham, A., and Shah, D.V. “A Smartphone Application for Alcoholism Recovery: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” JAMA – Psychiatry, 71(5): 566-72. March 2014. DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.4642.

Hemant Shah
Ph.D., 1987, Indiana University
Areas of Focus: race, ethnicity, media representation, cultural studies, qualitative methods, international communication
Brief Biography: Hemant Shah is Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Shah’s research is on the role of mass media in various types of social change, including construction of social identities, creation of racial anxiety, and the formation of social movements. He earned his doctorate from Indiana University. His dissertation was an ethnographic and content study of development journalism practices in India. Currently, Shah’s research focuses on race, ethnicity and mass media in the United States.
Full Biography:
Representative Publications:
Shah, H., and Thornton, M.C. (2004). Newspaper Coverage of Interethnic Conflict: Competing Visions of America. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Shah, H., and Yamagami, M. (2015). Color-Blind Racism and the News: Shirley Sherrod’s Tale of Racial Redemption. Howard Journal of Communication 26 (2): 1-13.
Shah, H. (2011). The Production of Modernization: Daniel Lerner, Mass Media and the Passing of Traditional Society. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Mike Wagner
Ph.D., 2006, Indiana University
Areas of Focus: political communication, public opinion, journalism, physiology, framing, polarization, psychology
Brief Biography: Mike Wagner explores how information influences political attitudes and actions. Wagner studies how elements of the information environment—e.g., the way politicians frame issues and the level of polarization in Congress—interact with individual-level factors to affect people’s political preferences, partisanship and behaviors. His body of cross-disciplinary work builds upon and challenges current scholarship in media framing, public opinion and mass polarization. He conducts his work through a mixed methods approach, using content analysis, opinion modeling, laboratory experiments, physiological response studies, and focus groups. He teaches graduate seminars in political communication and physiology and communication effects.
Full Biography:
Representative Publications:
Wagner, M.W. and Gruszczynski, M.W. Accepted. “When Framing Matters: How Partisan and Journalistic Frames Affect Public Opinion and Party Identification,” Journalism and Communication Monographs.
Wagner, M.W., Deppe, K., Jacobs, C.M., Friesen, A., Smith, K.B., and Hibbing, J.R.. 2015. “Beyond Survey Self-Reports: Using Physiology to Tap Political Orientations,” International Journal of Public Opinion Research 27 (3): 303-317.
Wagner, M.W. and TCollins, T.P. 2014. “Does Ownership Matter? The Case of Rupert Murdoch’s Purchase of the Wall Street Journal,” Journalism Practice 8 (6): 758-771.

Chris Wells
PhD, 2011, University of Washington
Areas of Focus: political communication, social media, citizenship, social movements
Brief Biography: Chris Wells is Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is co-director of the Social Media and Democracy (SMAD) and Civic Culture and Contentious Politics (CCCP) working groups. His work explores the changing nature of citizenship and civic engagement in the context of social and technological change, computational approaches to understanding political communication, and communication dynamics underlying the misperception of politically relevant facts. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Journal of Communication, New Media & Society, Information, Communication & Society, Political Psychology and Citizenship Studies, among other journals.
Full Biography:
Representative Publications:
Wells, C. (2015). The civic organization and the digital citizen: Communicating engagement in a networked age. New York: Oxford University Press.
Wells, C., & Thorson, K. (2015). Encounters with politics on Facebook: Connecting content flows to political knowledge and participation. Social Science Computer Review.
Thorson, K. & Wells, C. (2015). Curated flows: A framework for mapping media exposure in the digital age. Communication Theory.