Serena Miller Ph.D.

Serena Miller

Associate Professor

  • Journalism


Serena Miller is an Associate Professor of Journalism Innovations, the Co-Director of Graduate Studies in Michigan State Universitys School of Journalism, and Associated Editor for Journalism Studies. Miller recently stepped down from chairing the Information & Media Ph.D. program for the School. The Association in Education in Journalism & Mass Communication elected her to the Standing Committee on Research to serve a three-year term. MSU faculty also elected her to serve on the University Committee on Faculty Tenure and the University Military Education Advisory committee. Miller received her Ph.D. from Michigan State University's Media and Information Program, her M.S. in Journalism from the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and her B.A. in Communication Studies & Theatre from South Dakota State University. Prior to joining MSU, she was an assistant professor at Arizona State University where she led the digital media and Ph.D. programs for several years and she also worked as an instructor at Bloomsburg University prior to attending her Ph.D. program. 

Before becoming a teacher-scholar, Miller served in the mechanic's platoon in the U.S. Army, raised crops and cattle on a 1,000-acre farm in South Dakota, and worked as a television journalist in the U.S. She is not only a traditional academic scholar but a creative one as well. She recently won 2 awards for her documentary and photographic work on documenting and preserving food cultures of Michigan-area Native American populations

Miller's ultimate goal is to bring out the best in her students to confidently grow as independent scholars and futurist thinkers through the undertaking of challenging projects and the exploring of their inner architecture. She recognizes that students need to connect to a higher-level inner calling in order to face challenging career pressures and personal life obstacles that they will eventually face in their futures. She envisions her job as a teacher is to help them discover their potential. To encourage problem-solving, critical thinking, and intellectual curiosity, her classes weave together technical applications, lab experiences, theory, and research.

In her courses, she seeks to inspire her students to be futurist thinkers in the profession and research by teaching them about cutting-edge technologies and underutilized approaches such as data scraping, website coding, transmedia storytelling (i.e., telling stories across social media platforms), community partnerships, social media analytics, YouTube channel web series, multimedia editing applications, interactive video documentaries, mobile journalism storytelling, oral history method, photo elicitation method (i.e., participants visually document their own realities), social media verification, scale development, and concept explication, for example.

Research and Teaching

Media Sociology
Journalistic Practices

Social Media
Journalism and Graduate Education

Empirical Methods and Measurement
Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods

Scholarly Communities
Social Science Theory Building

Research Overview       
Millers earliest research focused on media sociology, news content characteristics, and emerging media, especially issues such as news quality, “citizen journalism,” and journalism education. Her quantitative and qualitative approaches addressed fundamental questions such as who should be classified as a journalist and what should be categorized as news because the identification of these characteristics is critical in understanding journalistsrole in supporting an informed society.

She sees her role as an educator of both the MSU community and broader academic community. Today, due to her role in the Information & Media PhD. program, her interests have evolved toward investigating large social scientific research problems by targeting concepts that need conceptual and empirical specification. She believes that journalism scholars can encourage unity within the field by identifying and exploring theoretical concepts that represent the discipline’s identity. Example constructs that she has created or advanced include journalistic interviewing competencies, journalism degree motivations, citizen journalists, journalistic expertise, frequent news comment contributors, news content diversity, dialogic communication, journalistic role enactments, news source affiliation diversity, social media communicator roles, journalistic self-categorization, visual self-presentation, and journalism major mediated influences.

Thematic Research Areas

Computational Communication
Health & Risk, Environment & Science Communication
Political Communication and Civic Engagement

Research Centers and Labs

Knight Center for Environmental Journalism
Health and Risk Communication Center


Ph.D., Media & Information Studies, Michigan State University (2007)
M.A., Journalism, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2003)
B.A., Communication, South Dakota State University (1993)

Recent Publications

Miller, S. (2019). Citizen journalism. In M. Karlsson, H. Örnebring, M. Carlson, Y. Chan, S. Craft, H. Sjøvaag, & H. Wasserman (Eds.). Oxford research encyclopedia of communication - journalism studies (pp. 1-25). New York: Oxford University Press.

Boehmer, J., Carpenter, S., & Fico, F. (2019). More of the same? Influences on source use in for-profit and nonprofit news organizational content. Journalism Studies, 12(2), 173-192.

Carpenter, S. (2018). Ten decision steps in scale development: A guide for researchers. Communication Methods and Measures, 12(1), 25-44.

Boehmer, J., Carpenter, S., & Fico, F. (2018). Filling the void: Non-profit news and factors affecting government conflict coverage. Digital Journalism, 6(3), 369-388.

Carpenter, S., Hoag, A., & Grant, A. E. (2018). An examination of print and broadcast individuals’ personality traits. Journalism and Mass Communication Educator, 73(2), 147-166. 

Carpenter, S., Peng, Z., & Cepak, A. (2018). An exploration of the complexity of journalistic interviewing competencies. Journalism Studies, 19(15), 2283-2303.

Carpenter, S., Hoag, A., & Grant, A. E. (2018). An examination of print and broadcast individuals’ personality traits. Journalism and Mass Communication Educator, 73(2), 147-166.

Carpenter, S., & Kanver, D. (2017). Journalistic expertise: A communicative approach. Communication and the Public, 2(3), 197–209.

Carpenter, S., Kanver, D., & Timmons, R. (2017). It’s about me: A study of journalists’ self-presentations of their visual and verbal selves. Journalism Practice, 11(10), 1246-1266.

Carpenter, S., & Lertpratchya, A. (2016). A qualitative and quantitative study of professional social media communicators: An extension of role theory to digital media workers. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 60(3), 448-464. 

Carpenter, S., Boehmer, J., & Fico, F. (2016). The measurement of journalistic role enactments: A study of organizational constraints and support in for-profit and nonprofit journalism. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 93(3), 587-608.

Carpenter, S., & Lertpratchya, A. (2016). Social media communicator roles: A scale. Social Media + Society, January-March, 1-11.

Carpenter, S., Grant, A.E., & Hoag, A. (2016). Journalism Degree Motivations (JDM): The development of a scale. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 71(1), 5-27. 

Carpenter, S., Takahashi, B., Lertpratchya, A., & Cunningham, C. (2016). Greening the campus: A theoretical extension of the dialogic communication approach. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 17(4), 520-539. 

Carpenter, S., Takahashi, B., Cunningham, C., & Lertpratchya, A. (2016). Higher education and public communication campaigns: The roles of social media in promoting sustainability. International Journal of Communication, 10, 4863-488

Lertpratchya, A., & Carpenter, S. (2015). Social media communicators’ motivations for professional engagement: A study of altruism, reciprocity, and reputation. PRism, 12(2).

Carpenter, S., Nah, S., & Chung, D. (2015). A study of U.S. online community journalists and their organizational characteristics and story generation routines. Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism, 16(4), 505-520. 

Carpenter, S., Makhadmeh, N., & Thornton, L.J. (2015). Mentorship on the doctoral level: An examination of communication mentors’ traits and functions. Communication Education, 64(3), 366-384.  

Carpenter, S., Hoag, A., Grant, A.E., & Bowe, B. (2015). An examination of how academic advancement of U.S. journalism students relates to their degree motivations, values, and technology use. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 70(1), 58-74.

Blom, R., Carpenter, S., Bowe, B., & Lange, R. (2014). Frequent contributors in U.S. newspaper comment forums: An examination of their civility and informational value. American Behavioral Scientist, 58(10), 1314-1328. 

Chung, D., Nah, S., & Carpenter, S. (2013).
Journalistic role conceptions and sourcing practices: A study of U.S. citizen journalists. Journal of Social Science, 29(1), 65-98.

Knight, M.
, & Carpenter, S. (2012). Optimal matching model of social support: An examination of how national product and service companies use Twitter to respond to the public. Southwestern Mass Communication Journal, 28(2), 21-35.

Courses Taught at MSU

Online Spartan Newsroom, JRN 400
Images and Messages, JRN 445
Broadcast News II, JRN 403
Public Relations Topics in Journalism, JRN 402
Advanced Multimedia Storytelling, JRN 492

Multimedia Reporting I and II, JRN800 and JRN801
Introduction to Quantitative Research, COM 803
Social Media News & Information, JRN821
Applied Research Methods in Journalism, JRN 816

Scale Development and Survey Research, CAS 992
Media Theory, JRN921
Media & Information Theory Building, ADV900
Scale Development and Reporting, CAS892

Project Title and Source

PI, Broadcast Education Association (BEA) (2016-2018). “Defining creative scholarship in communication: An interview study.”

PI, Council of Communication Associations (2016-2018). Defining creative scholarship in communication: A content analysis.

PI, Knight Center for Environmental Journalism (2016). The crafting of ricing moccasins. 

PI, The Arthur W. Page Center (2015). Visual best practices in communicating sustainability: A cognitive science approach.

Newspaper and Online Division (Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication) (2015). A qualitative and quantitative study examining the state of journalistic interviewing.

The Office of Sustainability. (2014). The sustainability practices of U.S. universities.

The Arthur W. Page Center (2013). Roles of professional social media communicators: An examination of perceptions, conflict and identity.

National Academic Advising Association (2012). “Cultivation and expectancy value influences on college major choice: A study of communication undergraduates.”

Favorite Quotation

“Some people follow the path laid out by others, and if they do, they will not have passion.” – Wayne Dyer


Describe in one sentence what you hope your students learn from you, your scholarly work or teaching:
To be inspired to challenge our understanding of the world.

Describe yourself in five words or less: 
passionate, focused, open, adventurous, honest

Contact Information

404 Wilson Road
Room 344 (third floor)
Communication Arts and Sciences Building
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824

Twitter: @dr_serena
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