For more than a decade as a journalist and scholar, I’ve been writing and teaching about alternative media, activist audiences and cultural movements related to media use.
My research looks at the values and practices of people who use activist and alternative media as well as those who strive to balance their digital lives with analog and offline activities through Digital Detox, Internet Sabbaths, Slow Media and Unplugging. My internationally known work includes an article on “Activists as Interpretive Communities” for the journal Media, Culture & Society, a chapter for the Blackwell book Audience Studies that discusses theories of ritual and reception as they relate to activist media participation, and the very last entry to the International Encyclopedia of Communication: “Zines.” In addition, I am contributing a chapter on Slow Media and other print/analog revivals to the new Routledge Companion to Alternative & Community Media.
I bring these critical and cultural perspectives to my pedagogy, too. I’m a professor of journalism and communication studies at Long Island University-Brooklyn, where I teach courses in social media, news writing and political rhetoric, along with topical seminars in popular culture and communication such as “From Boob Tube to YouTube” and “Digital Disenchantment & Analog Alternatives.” I also have the pleasure of serving on LIU’s selection committee for the George Polk Awards in investigative reporting.
I’ve won several honors for my work, including the highest teaching award bestowed by my university as well as fellowships from the Poynter Institute and the Knight Digital Media Center at University of California-Berkeley, an Instructional Innovation Grant from Long Island University, and a GIFT (Great Ideas For Teachers) Scholar award from the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication, among others.
I created the blog “Slow Media” in 2009 to reflect on living a less mediated life, and I began curating the online guide “Unplug Your Class” in 2012 to share tips, news, videos and other educational resources for class experiments in digital detox. I’ve talked about unplugging in interviews with Australian Broadcasting Corp’s Radio National program, Canadian Broadcasting Corp., and German public radio as well as newspapers in the United States and Canada. I participated in a streaming panel discussion about social-media addiction with Michael Chiklis (The Shield) on Huffington Post Live. National Public Radio also featured me in two segments of its Marketplace program focusing on my yearlong project of taking an offline sabbatical.
Before joining LIU-Brooklyn in 2004, I taught at Temple University, Lehigh University, Ursinus College, and Indiana University-Bloomington. I also worked for seven years as a writer, editor, photographer, and page designer for various organizations including the American Red Cross, the government-sponsored newspaper China Daily and the alternative newsweekly Philadelphia City Paper.
I earned a Ph.D. in Mass Communication from Indiana University, where I was a Chancellor’s Fellow as well as a Roy Howard, Eugene Pulliam and Ernie Pyle fellow. I hold a master’s degree in Journalism from Temple University and a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and French from the Pennsylvania State University. I also attended the University of Manchester, England, as a visiting scholar of international media and worked there as assistant to an independent music promoter.
Before settling in New York City with my husband, Michael, and our cats, Quincy and Shaft, I grew up on the edge of Pennsylvania Dutch Country and lived in many foreign milieux, from Bouches-du-Rhône to Beijing. In these places I learned to view cultures from the outside, to question the cultural logic of how things “should” be done, and to understand that another way of living is always possible.