Journalism professor awarded for long-term studies on how news shapes public’s perception

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Photo Credit: Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

Journalism professor Stephen Reese was awarded the Paul J. Deutschmann Award, one of the top journalism research honors, for his long-term studies on how news can shape the public’s perception of the world.

“It’s very gratifying,” Reese said. “It’s an award that many of my mentors have received. To join them on that list is very rewarding.”

Reese received the award from the Association for Excellence in Journalism and Mass Communication and will be presented with it at the organization’s meeting in Chicago this August. 

Reese began his research in 1978 after becoming fascinated by political science and journalism in
high school.

“I’ve always been interested in how things work politically,” Reese said. “With journalism, it’s so closely tied to politics. You can see how not only the news communicates important information about political events but helps shape politics in the first place.” 

Reese said his research focuses on the factors that shape how stories are portrayed in the news.  

“I’ve been interested in what role journalism has in society, politics in particular,” Reese said. “Journalists need to be careful and independent and able to resist the easy explanation.”

Journalism professor Tom Johnson, a long-time colleague of Reese, said Reese’s work has been impactful in the journalism world.

“He is very deserving of the award,” Johnson said. “He’s really done a great job of outlining how forces both within … and outside the (journalism community) affect what gets written and what people know about the world.”

Reese has made major contributions in several theories of journalism, such as framing, or how the media chooses to cover the news, Johnson said.

Assistant journalism professor Gina Chen, a colleague of Reese, said his work has been an important source for other journalists and researchers. 

“His research is directly relevant to journalism,” Chen said. “It is both helping us understand journalism, but it’s also helping journalists understand why they do what they do and how it changes the concept.”  

Chen said Reese’s contributions include co-writing a major book in the journalism world, “Mediating the Message in the 21st Century,” which focuses on how news is influenced by various factors. 

“He’s a perfect person for the award, because that award is really supposed to honor somebody who has made contributions throughout their career to journalism and mass communication,” Chen said.