Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Edward R. Murrow College of Communication

Ryan Thomas

  1. Director of Graduate Studies
  2. Associate Professor
LocationGoertzen Hall 210



Ryan J. Thomas is an Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Production and Director of Graduate Studies in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. His teaching and research center on issues pertaining to journalism and democracy, journalism ethics, and the sociology of news production. Ryan earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Washington State University before spending ten years on the faculty of the Missouri School of Journalism, where he earned tenure. He returned to WSU as an Associate Professor in 2022 and was appointed Director of Graduate Studies in 2023. He is a first-generation college student from Merthyr Tydfil, Wales and enjoys running, discovering new music, and spending time with his wife and two rescue dogs Rose and Webster.


  • Ph.D., Communication, Washington State University
  • M.A., Communication, Washington State University
  • B.A., American Studies, Swansea University

Classes Taught

  • COM 440 – Media Ethics
  • COM 500 – Communication Colloquium
  • COM 563 – Ethics for Professionals
  • COM 591 – Qualitative Research Methods

Research Interests

Ryan’s research program addresses the intersection of journalism ethics and the sociology of news, focusing on journalism amid processes of change. This research program examines the forces shaping journalism, how journalists make sense of them, and how these changes affect journalism’s institutional obligations and role in public life. A related stream of research asks critical questions of journalism studies as a field and its tendency to hastily embrace technological change and treat these changes as fundamental, inexorable, and unprecedented. Thomas’s research has been published in such peer-reviewed journals as Journalism Studies, Digital Journalism, the Journal of Media Ethics, and New Media & Society.


Ryan was the 2023 recipient of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) Hillier Krieghbaum Mid-Career Award. Throughout his career, Ryan has received awards recognizing his research, teaching, and service. His research has been recognized with top paper awards from the three major associations in the communication field: AEJMC, the International Communication Association (ICA), and the National Communication Association (NCA), winning ten top paper awards in all. He is a past winner of AEJMC’s Media Ethics Division’s Teaching Excellence Award and the University of Missouri’s “Gold Chalk” award recognizing contributions to graduate advising and education. His service to the academy and consensus-driven approach to decision-making was recognized with the University of Missouri’s Shared Governance award.

Selected Publications

Representative publications include:

Vos, T. P., Thomas, R. J., & Tandoc, E. C. (2023). Constructing the legitimacy of journalists’ marketing role. Journalism Studies, 24(6), 763-782.

Finneman, T., & Thomas, R. J. (2022). “Our company is in survival mode”: Metajournalistic discourse on COVID-19’s impact on U.S. community newspapers. Journalism Practice, 16(10), 1965-1983.

Thomas, R. J. (2022). The welcome persistence of “we write, you read” journalism. In V. Manninen, M. K. Niemi, & A. Ridge-Newman (Eds.), Futures of journalism: Technological evolution in the audience-news relationship (pp. 143-158). Palgrave Macmillan.

Tandoc, E. C., Thomas, R. J., & Bishop, L. (2021). What is (fake) news? Analyzing news values (and more) in fake stories. Media & Communication, 9(1), 110-119.

Tandoc, E. C., Jenkins, J., Thomas, R. J., & Westlund, O. (Eds.). (2020). Critical incidents in journalism: Pivotal moments reshaping journalism around the world. Routledge.

Thomas, R. J. (2019). Helpfulness as journalism’s normative anchor: Addressing blind spots and going back to basics. Journalism Studies, 20(3), 364–380.

Thomas, R. J., & Perreault, M. F. (2018). A lineage of leakers? The contingency of collective memory in coverage of contemporary leaking cases. Journalism Practice, 12(10), 1259–1276.

Thomas, R. J., Tandoc, E. C., & Hinnant, A. (2017). False balance in public health reporting? Michele Bachmann, the HPV vaccine, and “mental retardation.” Health Communication, 32(2), 152–160.

Greenwood, K., & Thomas, R. J. (2015). Locating the journalism in citizen photojournalism: The use and content of citizen-generated imagery. Digital Journalism, 3(4), 615–633.

Tandoc, E. C., & Thomas, R. J. (2015). The ethics of web analytics: Implications of using audience metrics in news construction. Digital Journalism, 3(2), 243–258.

Thomas, R. J., & Hindman, E. B. (2015). Confusing roles, uncertain responsibilities: Journalistic discourse on Juan Williams, NPR, and Fox News. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 92(2), 468–486.

Thomas, R. J., & Finneman, T. (2014). Who watches the watchdogs? British newspaper metadiscourse on the Leveson Inquiry. Journalism Studies, 15(2), 172–186.

Thomas, R. J. (2012). Changing the conversation: Can the phone hacking scandal lead to a new covenant on media responsibilities? The Political Quarterly, 83(3), 524–531.

Thomas, R. J., & Hindman, E. B. (2012). “People will die because of the BBC”: British newspaper reaction to the BBC Gaza appeal decision. Journalism, 13(5), 572–588.

Thomas, R. J. (2011). Media morality and compassion for “faraway others.” Journalism Practice, 5(3), 287–302.

Phone icon Email icon Website icon