Adrienne Russell


Adrienne Russell is Mary Laird Wood Professor of Communication and Associate Director of the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement. Her research focuses on the digital-age evolution of activist communication and journalism and explores communication related to climate change and social justice. She is editor, together with Matt Powers, of  “2K,” a special section of the journal Social Media + Society that is dedicated to public scholarship related to media and technology and serves on the editorial boards of Journalism: Theory, Practice and CriticismJournal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media; Kaleidoscope: The Journal of Alternative Media and Social Movements, and Mimesis International publishing house. She has written extensively on the ways national and transnational media systems are evolving in the networked era, and on how journalists, activists, technologists, media publics and others shape information products and spaces.

Her first book, Networked: A Contemporary History of News in Transition  (2011), explores the transformations tied to the wide proliferation of the Web and mobile technologies since the early 1990s. The book argues that new journalism tools and practices can improve journalism by reviving past core values, such as dialogue and pluralism, and by strengthening existing core values, such as watchdogging authority. Her most recent book, Journalism as Activism: Recoding Media Power (2016), extends that argument by exploring the ways social actors are leveraging new media tools and new media publics to expand democratic power. The book highlights ways media activists adept at using and creating new communication tools are taking up the work of journalists, expanding the field in significant ways and shaping on a new level traditional news stories and genres. Most recently she co-edited the forthcoming book, What is Media Research For? Essays on data, journalism, inclusion, and engagement, which showcases leading scholars of media and public life grappling with how to make sense of massive changes rocking the media world.

As part of her larger interest in journalism and activism, Russell’s work explores several specific contemporary issues, including the climate crisis, surveillance, and protest movements. Since 2008, Russell has conducted research as part of MediaClimate, a team of international scholars conducting comparative studies on transnational coverage of the annual United Nations Climate Summits and of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. MediaClimate has published empirical work on the way climate discourse is being constructed and that provides insight into the dynamic between local and global media practices and genres. Russell also has contributed to an international research project on coverage of the National Security Agency surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden. The work completed so far is compiled in Journalism and the NSA Revelations: Privacy, Security, and the Press (I.B. Tauris 2017), a volume she co-edited. She has also published a number of articles and book chapters on protest movements and their use of media (see below).

Before joining the Department of Communication faculty at the University of Washington, Russell was Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Media, Film, and Journalism Studies and associate professor with a joint appointment in Media, Film, and Journalism and Emergent Digital Practices at the University of Denver. Before that, she was an assistant professor in the Department of Global Communication at the American University of Paris.  She has also held fellowships with the Annenberg Center at University of Southern California and the Department of Media and Communication at London School of Economics. You can read more about her work here.