Employing both quantitative and qualitative methods, my research focuses on how journalists cover political events in a changing media ecosystem. My projects have focused on elections and protests, both in the United States and in Brazil.
I’ve published several articles in peer-reviewed academic journals including The International Journal of Press/Politics, Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism, Mass Communication and Society, Journalism Studies, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Journalism Studies, Digital Journalism, the International Journal of Communication, and the Journal of Information Technology & Politics.
In 2017, my dissertation won the Gene Burd Outstanding Dissertation in Journalism Studies Award from ICA, and the best dissertation award from the Mass Communication and Society division at AEJMC.
You can download my complete CV here, download the hyperlinked articles or see some of my presentations and posters below.
Last updated: 08/02/2018
2018 U.S. State Department, Mission Brazil, $50,000 (PI). Project: Michigan-Brazil Multimedia Journalism Program. Co-PIs: Lucinda Davenport, Mike Castellucci and Judy Walgren
2018 U.S. State Department, U.S. Embassy in Chile, $40,000 (PI). Project: Michigan-Chile Investigative Journalism Program
2018 Mass Communication & Society Division at AEJMC – Research Grants, $10,000 (PI). Project: News media effects, attitudes toward Black protest movements and the intersections of injustice.Co-PI: Danielle Kilgo, Indiana University
2017 The News Challenge Fund, Online News Association, $35,000 (PI). Project: Can transmedia journalism help explain how school of choice affects rural and urban communities? Co-PI: Joe Grimm, Michigan State University
Kilgo, D.K.; Mourão, R.R.; & Sylvie, G. (in press). Martin to Brown: How time and platform impact coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement. Journalism Practice.
Mourão, R.R., Kilgo, D.K., & Sylvie, G. (2018). Framing Ferguson: the interplay of advocacy and journalistic frames in local and national newspaper coverage of Michael Brown. Journalism, ahead-of-print.
McGregor, S. C., Mourão, R.R., & Molyneux, L. (2017). Twitter as a Tool for and Object of Political and Electoral Activity: Considering Electoral Context and Variance Among Actors. Journal of Information Technology & Politics, (2017): 1-14.
McGregor, S. C., Mourão, R.R., Neto, I., Angelucci, A., & Straubhaar, J. (2017). All the Kids are Doing It: Second Screening as Convergence in Brazil and the US. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 61 (01), 162-181.
Stephens, M., Yoo, J., Mourão, R. R., Gutierrez, F. M., Baresch, B., & Johnson, T. J. (2016). The life of the Tea Party: Differences between Tea Party and Republican media use and political variables. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 24(3), 157-171.
Mourão, R.R., Yoo, J., Geise, S., Araiza, J.A., Kilgo, D.K., Chen, V., & Johnson, T.J. (2015). Online News, Social Media, and European Union Attitudes: A Multidimensional Analysis. International Journal of Communication 9, 1-20.
Stephens, M., Yoo, J., Mourão, R. R., Vu, H. T., Baresch, B., & Johnson, T. J. (2014). How app are people to use smartphones, search engines, and social media for news?: examining information acquisition tools and their influence on political knowledge and voting. Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 11(4), 383-396.
Molyneux, L., Mourão, R.R., & Coddington, M. (2016). US political journalists' use of Twitter: Lessons from 2012 and a Look Ahead. In R. Davis, C Holtz-Bacha, & M.R. Just (Eds.), Twitter and Elections around the World: Campaigning in 140 Characters or Less. New York, NY: Routledge.
Lawrence, R., McGregor, S. C., Cardona, A., & Mourão, R.R. (2015). Personalization and Gender: 2014 Gubernatorial Candidates on Social Media. In J. Hendricks & D. Schill (Eds.). Communication and 2014 Mid-Term Elections: Media, Message, and Mobilization. Forthcoming.
This paper uses a media sociology approach to untangle how multiple influences shaped news coverage of the 2013 and 2015 protests in Brazil. Through a quantitatively-driven mixed methodology combining survey, content analysis and interviews, this project provides a holistic view of how elite mainstream journalists went about covering the demonstrations. Findings suggest that the more journalists supported demonstrations, the less favorably they portrayed protestors. This holds true even when controlling for their outlet’s editorial line, as measured by journalists’ own perception of their employers. Through in-depth interviews, journalists described continually self-assessing and correcting for bias, citing professional norms as the basis for coverage of protests that were contrary to their personal opinions. This pattern particularly benefited the right-leaning movements viewed negatively by most journalists in the sample. Findings defy the logic behind the protest paradigm, which is rooted on a notion of a press ideological resistance to protestors.
In 2013, small demonstrations against bus fares in Brazil evolved into a series of large protests expressing generalized dissatisfaction with center-leftist President Dilma Rousseff. After she was reelected, another wave of protests returned in 2015 with a clear agenda: the removal of the President. Communication research has long examined the “protest paradigm,” a pattern of coverage delegitimizing social movements. The Brazilian context provided a chance to assess the extent to which the paradigm holds when protests take on an elite-driven narrative contesting the government. Through a quantitatively-driven mixed methods, results revealed that when grievances evolved into coherent anti-government demands, official sources from opposition parties served to legitimize the movement. This study departs from an understanding of protest coverage as paradigmatic towards a complex view of the relationship between protestors and the press. The experience of Brazil shows that when an elite opposition supports protests, journalistic norms and routines validate demonstrations.
In 2013, thousands of Brazilians took to the streets in massive protests. Demands encompassed an array of grievances, ranging from the exorbitant expenditures on infrastructure for the 2014 World Cup to corruption and political reform. Drawing on the work of Hertog and McLeod (2001), this paper compares the evolution of online media and audience frames as the protests unfolded. Computerized content analyses of news stories, blog entries and Twitter posts suggest that traditional media outlets predominantly used the “riot” frame, but increasingly adopted legitimizing frames as demands became more generalized and publically popular. Findings also suggest that mainstream media follow the “protest paradigm” more closely on websites than on their Twitter accounts. Conversely, blogs and the general audience on Twitter predominantly used legitimizing frames, including analyses of the movement and its demands and “call to arms” content. Finally, this study also provides a systematic way of using big data to map and compare “protest paradigm” frames and master narratives over time.
Mourao, R.R. (2014) Framing #VemPraRua: The 2013 Brazilian Protests on News Websites, Blogs and Twitter. Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Conference 2014. International Communication Division. Montreal, Canada. August 6-9, 2014. Top paper Latino/Latin American Studies Award. Third Place.
During the 2012 presidential election, Twitter emerged as a key reporting tool for journalists on the campaign trail. Through a textual analysis of over 5700 tweets from 430 political journalists, this study sought to understand how the platform was used as a channel for community building during the first 2012 presidential debate. Building upon Zelizer’s definition of journalists as interpretive communities and Goffman’s dramaturgical model, results reveal that journalists used the online tool for constructing narratives. In addition, online interactions uncover facets of campaign reporting previously confined to backstage regions. Narrative-building, interpretive community discourses, and backstage behaviors were found in tweets in which journalists gave opinions about the political process and used humor to construct the traits of a professional group. Findings suggest that Twitter coverage helps establish new professional boundaries for political communication.
Mourão, R. R. (2014). The boys on the timeline: Political journalists’ use of Twitter for building interpretive communities. Journalism, (ahead-of-print).