Patrick R. Johnson, MJE

Researcher of news literacy; journalism education, ethics, and practice; and issues of deviance, sex, and sexuality.
Instructor of journalism, teaching ethics, law, and
journalism and vis. comm. skills courses.
Former high school teacher, journalism mentor,
and program director.
Champion for the voiceless.

I believe that everything that contradicts
can coexist in harmony.


I am a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa whose work centers on finding a pathway toward more just and equitable futures in journalism and media practice. My time as a high school teacher and journalism advisor helped shape my desire to be a voice for the voiceless in my teaching, service, and research. Because of my years in the classroom, I bring a transformative pragmatist approach to my work.

The crux of my scholarly life is education and pedagogy, both in the traditional sense (as a teacher and as a researcher) and in the professional community (examining journalism practice and professionalization). But how I interrogate education questions is non-traditional. I come at my questions through discussions and critical analysis of the people, places, things, and ideas that education and professionalization teach and train future media professionals not to be like: the deviants. I, therefore, focus my time on what lies outside or at the margins of the bright-line boundaries journalism and media choose to build.

My work with graduate students and LGBTQ advocacy are also core to my personal mission and identity. I am a diligent and tireless champion of better systems that promote mental health, prioritize thoughtful relationship-centered experiences, and position grace and gratitude as avenues of growth and success. One can expect this to be a North Star in my daily interactions and practice.

I am an award-winning scholar with publications published and accepted in top journals (i.e., Digital Journalism, Media and Communication, Journal of Media Literacy Education) across journalism and media studies. This includes top paper awards at AEJMC’s annual conference and being named the graduate student researcher of the year at the University of Iowa. I participate in both traditional and public scholarship, as well as have a rich and engaging history of teaching and learning.


Ph.D. (in progress) | Mass Communication | The University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication

  • Research identity: “The good, the bad, and the ‘I wouldn’t touch that with a ten-foot pole’”
    • Research emphasis: The democracy-building practices and moral authority of journalism and media
    • Concentrations: news and media literacy, journalism and media ethics (including corporate social responsibility), journalism and mass communication education/pedagogy, journalism practice and normative values, media criticism, popular media and culture, deviance, sex and sexuality in the media, LGBTQ+ media and advocacy
  • Theory: Metajournalistic discourse, care-based/feminist ethics, cultural studies, queer theory, news literacy behaviors, moral foundations
  • Methodology:
    • Practice: mixed-methods research, qualitative emphasis; interviews; critical discourse analysis; detachment/attachment analysis; surveys
    • Approach: transformative, paradigmatic

MA (2013) | Communication | Marquette University

  • Thesis: The impurity truth: How popular media taught Millennial males to get laid and “do it” as early as possible.
  • Committee
    • Advisor: Dr. Bonnie Brennen, Professor Emerita and Nieman Professor of Journalism
    • Members: Dr. Ana C. Garner and Dr. Pamela Hill Nettleton

BS (2011) | Secondary Education & Journalism | Marquette University

Current Appointment

2020 – Present | Teaching Assistant, The University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Summer 2022 | Digital Scholarship & Publishing Studio Summer Fellow, The University of Iowa Graduate College

Research Teams

Trusting News Project

Mapping Impactful Media Literacy, NAMLE

“I’ll teach you how to jump on the wind’s back, and then away we go.”

J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan