Dr Brendan R Watson

Brendan Watson, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Brendan's research explores community information needs; how emerging digital and participatory communication technologies, including social media, are/are not changing the content and availability of public affairs news and information; how community information needs and communication about public affairs issues are shaped by community structure; and quantitative research methods.

Brendan's research has won multiple top paper awards at regional and national conferences and the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication awarded his dissertation, which compared local newspaper and Twitter coverage of the 2010 BP oil spill, the 2013 Nafziger-White-Salwen Dissertation Award. The award recognizes the best dissertation in mass communication completed the previous year.

Among the issues the dissertation addressed was whether Twitter represents an alternative medium, or is shaped by similar social, political, and economic pressures as mainstream journalism.

Previously, Brendan was a multimedia journalist at the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times). He led many of the paper’s early experiments in multimedia reporting, including video reporting, podcasting and live-blogging major news events. He also trained the paper’s reporters and photographers, and has taught multimedia reporting seminars at Michigan State University, University of Maryland, and the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

If you're interested in working on your graduate studies with Brendan, please email him at brwatson@umn.edu before submitting an application.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Mass Communication, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 2012.
  • M.A.: Journalism, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, 2007.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Social Media
  • new media technologies
  • Online journalism
  • Journalism
  • Community Information Needs
  • news coverage of public affairs
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Quantitative research methods
  • Public opinion
Courses Taught
  • JOUR 3102: Convergence Journalism
  • JOUR 3004: Information for Mass Communication
  • JOUR 8561: Mass Media & Social Change
  • JOUR 5501: Communication, Public Opinion, and Social Media
  • When critical voices should speak up: Patterns in news coverage of unofficial sources during the BP oil spill: Watson, Brendan, Journalism Practice, 8 842-854, 2014. Link
  • Who Submits Work to JMCQ and Why? A Demographic Profile and Belief Summary: Watson, Brendan, Daniel Riffe, Sage, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 94 5-16, 2014. LinkDownload
  • Perceived Threat, Immigration Policy Support, and Media Coverage: Hostile Media and Presumed Influence: Watson, Brendan, Daniel Riffe, Oxford Journals, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 25 459-479, 2013. Link
  • Mass Media and Perceived and Objective Environmental Risk: Race and Place of Residence: Watson, Brendan, Lynsy Smithson-Stanley, Daniel Riffe and Emily Ogilvie, Taylor & Francis, Howard Journal of Communications, 24 134-153, In Press. Link
  • Ideologies Drive Journalists' Attitudes Toward Oil Industry: Watson, Brendan, Newspaper Research Journal, 33 6-21, 2012.
  • Bloggers' rely on sources outside traditional media: Watson, Brendan, AEJMC, Newspaper Research Journal, 33 20-33, 2012.
  • The Structural Determinants of Local Public Affairs Place Blogging: Structural Pluralism and Community Stress. Watson, Brendan, Daniel Riffe, Author, 2011. Link
  • Study Examines Relationship Among Mainstream, Other Media. Watson, Brendan, Stephen Lacy and Daniel Riffe, Author, 2011.
  • Assessing ideological, professional, and structural biases in journalists' coverage of the 2010 BP oil spill: Watson, Brendan, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 94 792-810, 2014. Link
  • Assessing the reporting of reliability in published content analyses: 1985-2010. Watson, Brendan, Lovejoy, J., Lacy, S., Riffe, D., Author, 2014. Link
  • Normalizing community structure’s restraint on critical Tweets about a polluting industry. Watson, Brendan, Author, 2014. Link
  • Is Twitter an alternative medium?: Comparing Gulf Coast Twitter and newspaper coverage of the 2010 BP oil spill. Watson, Brendan, Author, 2015. Link
  • Commemorative Journalism, Digital Collective Remembering, and the March on Washington. Watson, Brendan, Michelle Chen, Author, In Press.
  • Are Demographics Adequate Controls for Cell Phone-Only Coverage Bias in Mass Communication Research?. Watson, Brendan, Zamith, R., Cavanah, S., and Lewis, S.C., Author, In Press.
  • Top Faculty-Student Collaborative Paper, Commission on the Status of Women, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, August 2012
  • Top Faculty Paper, Minorities and Communication Division, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, August 2011
  • Second Place Faculty Paper, Mass Communication & Society Division, Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication, August 2011
  • Outstanding Graduating Ph.D. Student, School of Journalism & Mass Communication, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, May 2012