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Marie Shanahan - University of Connecticut. Storrs, CT, US

Marie Shanahan

Associate Professor | University of Connecticut


Professor Shanahan is an expert in the intersection of journalism and digital communication technology, online news and digital discourse.



Professor Shanahan studies trends in digital discourse, online news commenting, social media, online reputation, news literacy and local news engagement. She has been a reporter, online producer and digital news editor for more than 20 years.

As a journalism instructor, Shanahan helps students gain proficiency in digital news gathering and production. Her courses deliver a practical and theoretical foundation in interactive communications, multimedia reporting, online storytelling and data visualization.

Shanahan’s interest in the possibilities of interactive media led her away from an early career as a print newspaper reporter to the digital side of news. Her first academic book, “Journalism, Online Comments and the Future of Public Discourse,” was published by Routledge in 2017. She also provides digital storytelling and audience engagement training to non-profit news organizations in Connecticut.

Areas of Expertise (8)

News Literacy

Digital Discourse


Local news


Multimedia Reporting

Online Storytelling

Online Comments

Education (2)

Quinnipiac University: M.S., Interactive Communications 2010

University of Connecticut: B.A., Journalism and History 1994




Marie Shanahan Publication



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Media Appearances (11)

Marie Shanahan on the Wayne Norman Show

WILI Radio  radio


UConn Associate Professor Marie Shanahan joins Wayne Norman for a discussion about politics and social media.

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An ‘infodemic’ has overtaken the coronavirus

Journal Inquirer  print


One thing is for sure — there’s an abundance of stories, tweets, and blog posts about the coronavirus. Marie Shanahan, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Connecticut in Storrs who has done studies on online social media discourse, said the World Health Organization has described the problem as an “infodemic.” “It’s an overabundance of information,” she said. “There’s too much information. Some of it’s accurate, some of it’s not and it makes it hard to find trustworthy information. That’s the problem."

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In Connecticut, fewer reporters, more missed stories

Phi Delta Kappan  online


Marie Shanahan, associate journalism professor at the University of Connecticut and former reporter with the Hartford Courant, said she hadn’t heard about the case, which is being bankrolled by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian-leaning organization that also paid for the anti-affirmative action lawsuit against Harvard. But Shanahan doesn’t blame education reporters for missing the story. For her, it’s a reflection of larger trends in the journalism industry. “Part of it, honestly, is the news cycle is like a torrent every single day,” Shanahan said. “We only have so much bandwidth to pay attention to certain things.”

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Newsrooms Take the Comments Section Back from Platforms

Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard  online


Journalism’s public trust problem isn’t going away. As the war on truth escalates, news organizations are going to have to counterattack on multiple fronts to win back audience trust. In 2019, journalists will need to to be the aggressor in three areas.

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What Aren't People Getting From The Media? Civil Conversations

Hartford Courant  


A traditional function of the press in society is to foster discussion and debate on issues of public concern. One of journalism’s democratic responsibilities is to provide forums for public criticism and compromise. That obligation hasn’t disappeared in the digital age. It’s become even more important. But digital discourse needs a course correction. It’s stuck in a spiral of negativity. The press itself should take a more active role in the conversation.

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Live Town Hall: The Press, The President, And The Public

WNPR  online


Tensions are high between the White House and much of mainstream media. While this is largely playing out in Washington, D.C., we're asking this question in Connecticut: What's the role of the local press in a Donald Trump presidency?

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How news sites’ online comments helped build our hateful electorate

The Conversation  


Critics may accuse President-elect Donald J. Trump and his supporters of dragging down public discourse in America, but civility took leave of open discussions years ago – online. Beneath digital news stories and social media posts are unmoderated, often anonymous comment streams showing in plain view the anger, condescension, misogyny, xenophobia, racism and nativism simmering within the citizenry.

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Can we make comments sections great again?

The Philadelphia Inquirer  online


"Can comment sections survive in the hyperpartisan Trump era? Or should more news organizations pull the plug like NPR, Reuters, Popular Science, and others that have disabled comments?

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Yes, Campuses Should Be Safe Spaces — for Debate

Chronicle of Higher Education  


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 of teaching. In my case, the expression I wanted to be shielded from wasn’t being shouted at me on the campus quad or discussed in my classroom. It was on Twitter. As a digital-journalism professor, I teach students how to make use of social media for reporting and news delivery. But I made a bad call the first time I instructed my class to use Twitter.

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Media: Radical Shift In Control Of The News

Hartford Courant  online


In the era 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. It may be the only way we can fit all the media that's out there into our daily lives.

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Comments sections: Controlling the trolls

Al Jazeera  online


For cash-strapped media organisations, controlling the trolls, building the right kind of culture, and getting the best out of online comments is not just a matter of hitting the delete button. To properly moderate a comments section takes people and money. And this has spawned a side industry in online community management.

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Research Focus (1)

The Intersection of Journalism and Digital Technology

Professor Shanahan studies trends in digital discourse, online news commenting, social media and local news engagement.

Articles (3)

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

Columbia Journalism Review

2014 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.

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


2014 Audience participation hasn’t been an easy undertaking for online news publishers. Thanks to the unruly culture of online commenting and the “sadistic” actions of Internet trolls, every few weeks another news site announces modifications to its online commenting policy.

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More news organizations try civilizing online comments with the help of social media


2013 Patrick Stiegman, editor-in-chief of ESPN.com, said by phone that three factors drove the company’s decision to switch to Facebook for commenting: “a tremendously smooth transition for fans,” many of whom already have Facebook accounts; increased visibility for ESPN content beyond the walls of ESPN.com; and a desire to “emphasize quality of comments over the quantity of comments.”

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