Rachel Mourão, Ph.D.

Rachel Mourão,

Associate Professor, Graduate Director

  • Journalism
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Employing both quantitative and qualitative methods, Dr. Mourão focuses on how journalists cover political events in a changing media ecosystem. Her projects have focused on elections and protests, both in the United States and in Brazil. At MSU, she teaches courses on social media, media literacy, media theory, and multimedia reporting. She has received grants from the National Science Foundation, the US State Department (Missions Brazil and Chile), the Online News Association, and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. She is currently one of the US representatives in the Worlds of Journalism Study (WJS), a global project with more than 120 countries involved.

Dr. Mourão received her doctorate in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, School of Journalism. She also holds a Master of Arts from the University of Florida, Center for Latin American Studies and a Bachelor of Arts from the Universidade Federal do Amazonas, Departamento de Comunicação Social.

Research and Teaching

Dr. Mourão studies how news narratives about politics are constructed and how journalism can improve in an era of declining media trust and fragmentation of political communication. She conducts research that seeks to understand and improve how people create and make sense of news about politics. Two questions guide her scholarly work: a) What influences shape journalistic coverage of politics? and b) How does fragmentation challenge the ways in which political news narratives are created and consumed?

Her work has informed several projects aiming to strengthen Latin American and US media through education and professional training. For example, she was awarded grants from the US Department of State Missions in Brazil and Chile to train journalism students in Brasilia and Santiago. Dr. Mourão's teaching has also been funded by the Online News Association for a project testing the effectiveness of a multimedia issue-oriented curriculum for undergraduate reporting.

Dr. Mourão has won many awards, including the Teacher-Scholar Award (MSU), Mass Communication and Society Faculty Grant (AEJMC), the Gene Burd Outstanding Dissertation in Journalism Studies (ICA), the Top Dissertation Award by the Mass Communication and Society Division (AEJMC), and the Latin American Studies Award (AEJMC). 

Recent Publications

For a complete list of Dr. Mourão's work, see:

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8229-7247

Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=zcw6Yd4AAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao  


Selected publications:

Mourão, R. R. (2023). When the Right Protests: How Journalists Cover Conservative MovementsJournalism Practice, 17(6), 1232-1249.

Mourão, R. R., Thorson, E., Kryston, K., & Tunney, C. (2023). Predicting Audience Verification Intention: The impact of partisanship, source, importance, and information familiarity on willingness to verify headlines. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 100(2), 308-331.

Mourão, R.R. & Brown, D. (2022). Black Lives Matter Coverage: How protest news coverage and attitudinal change affect social media outcomes. Digital Journalism 10(4), 626-646.

Moran, E. F., Lopez, M. C., Mourão, R., Brown, E., McCright, A. M., Walgren, J., ... & Mueller, N. (2022). Advancing convergence research: Renewable energy solutions for off-grid communities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences119(49), online first.

Brown. D. & Mourão, R.R. (2022). No Reckoning for the Right: How Political Ideology, Protest Tolerance and News Consumption Affect Support Black Lives Matter Protests. Political Communication 39(6), 737-754

Mourão, R.R., Brown, D.K., & Sylvie, G. (2021). Framing Ferguson: the interplay of advocacy and journalistic frames in local and national newspaper coverage of Michael Brown. Journalism, 22(2), 320–340

Mourão, R.R. & Molyneux, L. (2020). Tweeting Outside the Lines: Normalization and Fragmentation as Political Reporters Break from the Mainstream. Journalism Practice, Published online first May 31, 2020.

Mourão, R.R. & Harlow, S. (2020). Awareness, Reporting, and Branding: Exploring Brazilian Journalists’ Social Media Use Across Platforms. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Published online first June 3, 2020.

Mourão, R.R. & Chen, W. (2019). Covering protests on Twitter – The Influences on Brazilian Journalists’ Social Media Portrayals of the 2013 and 2015 Demonstrations. The International Journal of Press/Politics. Published online first October 18, 2019

Mourão, R. R. (2019). From mass to elite protests: News Coverage and the Evolution of Anti-Government Demonstrations in Brazil. Mass Communication & Society, 22(1), 49-71.

Mourão, R.R. & Robertson, C. T. (2019). Fake news as discursive integration: a content analysis of sites that publish false, misleading, hyperpartisan and sensational information. Journalism Studies, 20(14), 2077-2095.


Recent grants include:

2022-24   Mott Foundation, $400,000.00 (Co-PI). Energy Convergence for Off-Grid Amazonian Communities ProgramCo-PIs: Emilio Moran (PI), Judy Walgren, Norbert Mueller, Aaron McCright, Maria Claudia Lopez

2020-23   National Science Foundation, $1,087,555.00 (Co-PI). Project: GCR - Convergence for Innovative Energy Solutions: Empowering Off-Grid Communities with Sustainable Energy TechnologiesCo-PIs: Emilio Moran (PI), Maria Claudia Lopez, Norbert Mueller, Aaron McCright

2018-19   U.S. State Department, Mission Brazil, $55,670 (PI). Project: Michigan-Brazil Multimedia Journalism ProgramCo-PIs: Bob Gould, Mike Castellucci, Lucinda Davenport and Judy Walgren

* Awarded 2nd place, International Communication Division Teaching Contest (AEJMC), 2020

2018-19   U.S. State Department, U.S. Embassy in Chile, $40,000 (PI) Project: Michigan-Chile Investigative Journalism Program. Co-PI: Magdalena Saldaña

2018-20   Mass Communication & Society Division (AEJMC) Research Grants, $10,000 (PI) Project: News media effects, attitudes toward Black protest movements and the intersections of injusticePI: Danielle Brown

2017-18    The News Challenge Fund, Online News Association, $35,000 (PI). Project: Can transmedia journalism help explain how schools of choice affect rural and urban communities? Co-PI: Joe Grimm


Contact Information

404 Wilson Rd.

Communication Arts and Sciences Building
Michigan State University