Stephanie Edgerly to join Medill faculty as assistant professor

Stephanie Edgerly, a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, will join the Medill faculty as an assistant professor in September, Dean John Lavine announced last week.

“From faculty to student work, Medill is a place for cutting edge ideas about journalism,” Edgerly said. “I look forward to contributing to this inspiring environment through research and class projects.”

Edgerly’s field is audience insight, and her research explores how the new media environment provides citizens with increased opportunities for political engagement.

“With the upcoming elections, the timing of her appointment could not be better,” Lavine said.

Specifically, Edgerly is interested in the new ways that audiences consume news content, such as the use of social media to create and share content, the mixing of news and entertainment content and the selective consumption of media. Her work highlights the links between specific audience orientations, media selection patterns and effects.

“I take an audience-focused approach to studying news,” Edgerly said. “I want to get students thinking about different audiences and hopefully, inspire creative ideas about producing and delivering news content. My approach is grounded in the belief that to understand the potential for new media to encourage political engagement, we need to first understand what ‘news’ means to different audiences and how they use media in their daily lives.”

Assistant Professor Rachel Davis Mersey, whose research also includes audience insight, served as chair of the committee that hired Edgerly.

“What is particularly exciting about Stephanie's research is that it is going to push us to look at reporting and writing – how we do it and how we teach it – in new ways,” Mersey said. “We know news and engagement have been redefined in the digital world, and Stephanie brings her forward-looking research to our ongoing discussions of their evolution.”

Edgerly earned a bachelor's degree in communication and political science from the University of California-Santa Barbara, and a master's degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before graduate school, she worked for Talk Radio News Service in Washington, D.C.

“The new media environment provides virtually unlimited options for creating, consuming, and sharing news,” Edgerly said. “As a result, understanding how audiences perceive and use media becomes a more complex, but interesting, task. This is truly an exciting time to study journalism.”