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research


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research


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 articles in peer-reviewed academic journals including Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 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: 03/07/2017

Peer-reviewed academic journal publications

McGregor, S. C. & Mourão, R.R. (2017). Second Screening Donald Trump: Conditional Indirect Effects on Political Participation. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 61(1), 163-181.

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. 

Mourão, R. R. (2016). “Binders Full of Tweets:” Twitter Coverage of “Women’s Issues” in the 2012 elections. Electronic Journal of Communication, 26 (1).

Mourão, R.R., Diehl, T., & Vasudevan, K. (2016). I Love Big Bird: How journalists tweeted humor during the 2012 presidential debates. Digital Journalism, 4(2), 211-228.

Mourão, R.R., Saldaña, M., McGregor, S.C., Zeh, A.D. (2016). Support for Protests in Latin America: Classifications and the Role of Online Networking. Social Sciences, 2016, 5(4), 58.

McGregor, S. C., & Mourão, R. R. (2016). Talking Politics on Twitter: Gender, Elections, and Social Networks. Social Media+ Society, 2(3), 1-14.

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., & Wood, C. C. (2015). The Digital Inequality in Brazil, 2004–2009: Evolution and Effects on Political Engagement. Journal of Latin American Communication Research, 5(1), 115-139.

Mourão, R. R. (2015). The boys on the timeline: Political journalists’ use of Twitter for building interpretive communities. Journalism, 16(8), 1107-1123.

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.

Mourão, R. R. (2014). A Bloody Weekend in Manaus: A Case Study of Televised Crime Reporting in Amazonas, Brazil. The Latin Americanist58(2), 3-21.

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.

Book chapters

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.

 

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From Mass to Elite protests


From Mass to Elite protests


Journalists’ balancing act: self-correcting for the protest paradigm during the demonstrations in Brazil

Abstract

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.

 

 

When Elites Protest: News Coverage and the Evolution of Anti-Government Demonstrations in Brazil

Abstract

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.

Framing #VemPraRua

The 2013 Brazilian Protests on News Websites, Blogs and Twitter

Abstract

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.

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Elections


Elections


The boys on the timeline

The boys on the timeline: Political journalists’ use of Twitter for building interpretive communities

Abstract

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).

Download full article here.

  I LOVE BIG BIRD How journalists tweeted humor during the 2012 presidential debates Rachel Mourao, Trevor Diehl and Krishnan Vasudevan Abstract During the 2012 elections, several narratives built around humor, zingers, and gaffes blurred the lines between news and entertainment. This paper examines how political journalists used humor on Twitter during the first 2012 presidential election debate. This study also explores the character of such humor, how jokes relate to other forms of Twitter interactivity, and who, or what are the targets of these jokes. Twitter use by political reporters during a presidential debate might offer evidence of a deviation from traditional reporting norms. Recent scholarship on journalism practice and new media technologies suggests that journalists tend to “normalize” new media affordances; journalists often adapt long-standing routines to new technological platforms. Normalization offers a solid construct to guide inquiry on how social media might, or might not, affect change in the delivery and style of contemporary political news. A content analysis of tweets posted by 430 political journalists during the debate reveals widespread use of humor by journalists on Twitter, especially associated with the retweet function. About one-fifth of the journalists’ tweets included jokes, suggesting a growing acceptance of the rhetorical device on Twitter. Results also reveal that journalists and commentators pointed their jokes toward political figures, but more sophisticated satirical comments were aimed at the news media or the debate process at large. Overall, political journalists tended to avoid humor as a means of criticism. Implications regarding the role of humor in politics, the nature of reporting on Twitter, and areas of potential future research are discussed.   Mourao, R. R., Diehl, T. & Vasudevan, K. (2014) I love Big Bird: How Journalists Tweeted Humor during the 2012 Presidential Debate. Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Conference 2014. Political Communication Interest Group. Montreal, Canada. August 6-9, 2014. Download the paper here.    

 

I LOVE BIG BIRD

How journalists tweeted humor during the 2012 presidential debates

Rachel Mourao, Trevor Diehl and Krishnan Vasudevan

Abstract

During the 2012 elections, several narratives built around humor, zingers, and gaffes blurred the lines between news and entertainment. This paper examines how political journalists used humor on Twitter during the first 2012 presidential election debate. This study also explores the character of such humor, how jokes relate to other forms of Twitter interactivity, and who,
or what are the targets of these jokes. Twitter use by political reporters during a presidential debate might offer evidence of a deviation from traditional reporting norms. Recent scholarship on journalism practice and new media technologies suggests that journalists tend to “normalize” new media affordances; journalists often adapt long-standing routines to new technological platforms. Normalization offers a solid construct to guide inquiry on how social media might, or might not, affect change in the delivery and style of contemporary political news. A content analysis of tweets posted by 430 political journalists during the debate reveals widespread use of humor by journalists on Twitter, especially associated with the retweet function.
About one-fifth of the journalists’ tweets included jokes, suggesting a growing acceptance of the rhetorical device on Twitter. Results also reveal that journalists and commentators pointed their jokes toward political figures, but more sophisticated satirical comments were aimed at the news media or the debate process at large. Overall, political journalists tended to avoid humor as a means of criticism. Implications regarding the role of humor in politics, the nature of reporting on Twitter, and areas of potential future research are discussed.

 

Mourao, R. R., Diehl, T. & Vasudevan, K. (2014) I love Big Bird: How Journalists Tweeted Humor during the 2012 Presidential Debate. Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Conference 2014. Political Communication Interest Group. Montreal, Canada. August 6-9, 2014.

Download the paper here.

 

 


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journalists covering crime


journalists covering crime


A Bloody Weekend In Manaus

A Case Study of Televised Crime Reporting in Amazonas, Brasil

Abstract

The idea that the frequency and types of crime and violence depicted in the media bear little relationship to the actual risks of victimization will come as no surprise to most people, yet few studies in Latin America have systematically documented the difference between the two. This study addresses the issue by comparing the results of a content analysis of crime-related television programs in Amazonas, Brazil, to estimates of actual crime victimization rates derived from an analysis of Brazil’s 2009 National Household Survey. Additional information comes from in-depth interviews with producers, journalists, and viewers. Together analyses of these data allow me to answer the questions: (1) What is the profile of the media-constructed image of the prevalence and character of crime and violence? (2) In what ways do the actual estimates differ from the image the media presents to the public?Answers to these questions provide insight into the media’s role in constructing social realities that generate stereotypes, promote moral panics, and influence people’s political preferences.

Mourao, R. R. (2014). A Bloody Weekend In Manaus: A Case Study of Televised Crime Reporting in Amazonas, Brasil. The Latin Americanist58(2), 3-21.

Download full paper here.

Download the poster here.