Ryan Thomas may have started his journey in the Welsh industrial town of Merthyr Tydfil, but his education and research soon brought him to Washington State University where he engaged in his graduate work in communications at the Murrow College. Though he started his career as a freelance journalist, he was soon drawn back into academia, serving as a professor at the University of Missouri for over ten years before finally getting to return to Murrow – this time as a faculty member.
“It’s nice to be able to give back to a program that offered a lot to me… [and] I feel like I am joining at a really exciting time for the College.”
Ryan’s research and teaching focuses on ethics in journalism, journalism and democracy, and the sociology of news. Specifically, he is interested in the forces shaping journalism, how journalists make sense of them, and how they affect journalism’s democratic obligations.
“I am a firm believer that Journalism, though certainly not perfect, plays a key role in democracy.” His research focuses on questions like whether or not issues such as the economics and politics of journalism are shaping it in a way we desire.
Some of his recent work includes research into the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on small newspapers, particularly those that do not have a large web presence. How does one address constantly changing information in a static form like print, while facing the challenge of a dynamic, perhaps even chaotic force like social media? He also examines the impact of the recent willingness of many journalistic publications to accept direct government subsidies, something that was an anathema in the past. How does the need to maintain economic freedom of the press stand in the face of the economic reality of closing publishing houses?
He has published this and other research in such journals as Journalism Studies, New Media and Society, and the Journal of Media Ethics. He serves on the editorial boards of four journals and has won a variety of research, teaching, and service awards from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), International Communication Association (ICA), and National Communication Association (NCA). We are delighted to welcome him and his family back to Murrow and the Pullman community at large.