Esther Thorson Ph.D.

Esther Thorson


  • Journalism
(517) 432-5168


Professor Thorson joined the MSU faculty in fall, 2016. Prior, she was Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research Director, Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism. Thorson publishes extensively on advertising message effects, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Advertising. Thorson is one of the most cited scholars in advertising, and the Interactive Advertising Model (with Shelly Rodgers, 2000; 2017) is one of the most-cited theory articles in advertising. The third edition of their edited advertising theory text will appear in 2017 Rodgers & Thorson, Digital Advertising).

Thorson also studies the relationships between news consumption and political participation. One of the foci of this work is how youth learn about and become involved in politics. Her co-edited book published in 2016 summarizes much of this work Thorson, Mitchell, & Shah, Political socialization in a media-saturated world.

Thorson and her colleagues in marketing have developed a number of econometric models of newspaper finance, and applied these models to newspaper management issues in newspapers from the Seattle Times to the Florida Times-Union. Both this work and her studies of news content and newspaper financial success have been credited with establishing that “good news is good business.”

At MSU Thorson is working on news consumption patterns and fake news and fact-checking efforts; several new political socialization projects, and how news stories about controversial and politicized subjects (e.g., global warming) can be rewritten in ways that reduce the wholesale rejection of them by those who tend to reject fact-based information when it is inconsistent with their world views.

Thorson continues her mentoring of graduate students. She has chaired nearly 50 doctoral dissertation committees and scores of masters theses. Her doctoral students teach at universities across the US and Asia. For Thorson, working with these students is a privilege and an intellectual adventure. At MSU Thorson is teaching graduate seminars in theory construction and experimental methodology.

Contact Information

404 Wilson Rd., Room 347
Communication Arts and Sciences Building
Michigan State University