Marie K. Shanahan

Assistant Professor of Journalism

Storrs, CT

Marie K. Shanahan

Teaching digital journalism at the University of Connecticut. Former online news editor with 17 years experience. Researching future of journalism, trends in online commenting, anonymity and digital reputation.



Journalism, Online Comments, and the Future of Public Discourse

Comments on digital news stories and on social media play an increasingly important role in public discourse as more citizens communicate through online networks. Shanahan's book explains online comments as the digital iteration of “conversation," examining how news-related public discussions function within a deliberative democracy and how journalism’s challenge to be a conversation rather than a lecture in the digital age is bedeviled by design defects and the obstacles of participatory online culture. Special attention is paid to anonymous online comments and journalism’s contradictory relationship with anonymity. Through original interviews, anecdotes, field observations and summaries of research literature, the book argues for news organizations to show greater leadership in online public discourse and to use journalistic rigor and better design to add value to citizens’ comments above the polarized social layer. Too many news sites have shut down comments and pushed the responsibility of conversations to social media sites, whose motivations and ethical codes vary.
Routledge Link to Story

How news sites’ online comments helped build our hateful electorate

How did the American electorate become so hateful? Heap some blame on online comments.
The Conversation Link to Story

Yes, Campuses Should Be Safe Spaces — for Debate

The cry of college students demanding "safe spaces" to protect themselves from speech that could harm their sensitivities doesn’t confound me. I secretly wished for a safe space myself during my first year teaching at the University of Connecticut.
The Chronicle of Higher Education Link to Story

FAA Green Lights Drone Use For Connecticut Businesses

The first Connecticut businesses have gotten clearance from federal regulators to use small, unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes.
The Hartford Courant Link to Story

Breastfeeding Rates On The Rise, As Mother-Baby Support Systems Expand

Candid online posts describing the challenges of breastfeeding fill the Facebook page of Breastfeeding USA’s Connecticut chapter. The daily stream of anecdotes, questions and comments alternate in tone from exasperated to celebratory.
Connecticut Health Investigative Team Link to Story

Media: Radical Shift In Control Of The News

In the age of status updates, Instagram filters and 140-character news alerts on Twitter, awareness in our current technological age orbits around our mobile devices. We check our screens more than 150 times a day, on average, motivated by the never-ending, Internet-powered stream of personalized information discovery.
The Hartford Courant Link to Story

On Connecticut’s ‘Gold Coast,’ a local news incubator

Unlike other communities around the country, the suburban towns comprising the Fairfield County, CT “Gold Coast” aren’t suffering a void in local news coverage. It’s quite the opposite. More than 100 media outlets currently deliver local news and information to the area’s residents and businesses, almost all supported by local advertising.
Columbia Journalism Review Link to Story

How talk radio listens to its audience, provides lessons for online publishers

Online publishers can learn from talk radio when it comes to audience engagement and user comments. Audience participation on the airwaves isn’t like the commenting free-for-all often found online. Human producers – not computer algorithms – screen callers before putting them on the air, ensuring that the contributions add value.
Poynter. Link to Story

The Uncertain Future of Patch in Connecticut

Now that AOL has laid off 40 percent of the Patch workforce, those of us concerned about the local news landscape in Connecticut want to know what’s going to happen to the state’s 67 Patch sites. Which sites will be shut down? Will AOL partner with existing Connecticut news organizations or independent news purveyors to keep sites going? Link to Story

More news organizations try civilizing online comments with social media

ESPN is the latest major news organization to rely upon social media to help civilize its online comments. Starting Wednesday,’s 25 million active users will have to log in through a Facebook account if they want to participate in online conversations on stories.
Poynter. Link to Story

Pictures: Notable Crime Incidents at Yale University

New Haven Black Panther trials, stalking Jodie Foster, the Unabomber, and more.
The Hartford Courant Link to Story

Mixed Races, Mixed Messages

A personal essay about growing up as a multiracial American and being not quite minority enough.
The Hartford Courant Link to Story


Marie K. Shanahan

Marie K. Shanahan is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Connecticut.

She spent 17 years as a reporter and online news editor before joining the faculty at UConn's nationally accredited journalism program. She teaches digital newsgathering techniques, various forms of multimedia storytelling and online ethics.

Shanahan's academic research explores the intersection of journalism and digital technology, focusing on trends in online commenting, anonymous online speech, and digital reputation.

Admittedly, she spends way too much time on social media.

The picture above is from her July 2013 trip to Leyte, Philippines.



  • Reporting
  • Editing
  • Online Production
  • Copyediting
  • Photo editing
  • Audio editing
  • Public speaking
  • Teaching
  • Mentoring
  • Blogging
  • News writing
  • Social media