Dr. Kyser Lough

Assistant Professor, Journalism

About: Dr. Lough teaches undergraduate photography and graphic courses. His primary research focus is visual communication and solutions journalism, with an emphasis on photojournalism.

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Ph.D., Journalism, The University of Texas at Austin
M.A., Mass Communication, Murray State University
B.A., Public Relations, Murray State University

Research Interests and Activities

Dr. Lough researches visual communication and solutions journalism. Broadly, he hopes to advance the field of visual journalism by incorporating it into professional, academic and pedagogical spaces through his teaching and research.

He uses both qualitative and quantitative inquiry to explore questions of power, access and boundaries. Within visual communication, he studies how news images are made, selected and interpreted, as well as the photographers themselves in how they define and operate within their field as they fight for legitimacy and job security.

His solutions journalism work investigates how it is conceptualized/created, audience effects and the interplay of words and images. Solution-oriented journalism, a growing field of interest within journalism studies, highlights social progress in a community, which often doesn’t get the same amount of attention as conflict.

Dr. Lough has presented his research at both national and regional AEJMC conferences, as well as at ICA and specialty conferences. His research is published in peer-reviewed journals such as Journalism, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Journalism Practice, Visual Communication Quarterly, Digital Journalism and The Agenda Setting Journal.

Routine and individual-level influences of newspaper front-page images: A study of wire photographs, staff photojournalism, race and gender Kyser Lough

Abstract: Influences upon the visual content of US front pages are assessed at two levels. At the routine-level, visual differences are compared based on whether photographs are taken by on-staff photojournalists or are wire-provided. At the individual-level, differences are assessed based on the photographer’s race and gender. This study uncovers visual implications of fewer staff […]

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Journalism’s visual construction of place in environmental coverage Kyser Lough

Abstract: This study builds on our understanding of how visual journalism is used with environmental reporting to create a sense of place and understanding. While most American photojournalism tends to favor close-up photos with people, environmental coverage leans opposite: sweeping landscape photos devoid of people. However, our content analysis of wire and non-wire environmental photos […]

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Hashtags, Images, and Identity: An Interdisciplinary Qualitative Approach to Analyzing Transgender Latinas’ Use of Instagram Kyser Lough

Abstract: Social media and media culture have significantly impacted how we understand ourselves, our communities, and our society. Marginalized groups have utilized social media as an effective outlet for self-expression and connecting with others. This project sought to understand how transgender Latinas use Instagram to present their identities and experiences using #TransLatina. The interdisciplinary team […]

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Sign this or go home: Concert photography agreements as restrictive image control devices Kyser Lough

Abstract: Photojournalists covering concerts are increasingly being asked to sign photo agreements in exchange for access to the venue. These agreements sometimes include restrictive terms that begin to limit editorial freedoms and copyright ownership of the images, which can be seen as a problematic form of image control. This study is the first to explore […]

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Judging photojournalism: The metajournalistic discourse of judges at the Best of Photojournalism and Pictures of the Year contests Kyser Lough

(Forthcoming) Abstract: This study promotes how discussions during photojournalism award judging can be used as metajournalistic discourse to gain insight about the definition, boundaries and legitimization of the field. Journalism awards signal value, but the deliberation process offers richer insight via the judges’ comments. This study explores that process in two stages through discourse analysis […]

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“A Possibility of a Lady Competitor:” Helen Preece and the 1912 Olympic Modern Pentathlon Kyser Lough

Abstract: On July 7, 1912, the Louisville Herald printed the story of Helen Preece, a teenaged English girl set to be the first and only woman to compete in the Modern Pentathlon at the upcoming Olympic Games in Stockholm. She’d been training for months and attracted international attention. The Modern Pentathlon competition started that same […]

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Judging photojournalism: The metajournalistic discourse of judges in two photojournalism competitions Kyser Lough

Abstract: This study investigates how discussions during photojournalism award judging can be used as metajournalistic discourse to gain insight about the definition, boundaries and legitimization of the field. Photojournalism awards shape the field by showing what is valued, but the process of judging can also provide insight. The author carries this out through discourse analysis […]

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Patriarchal Pits: The gendered experiences of female concert photographers Kyser Lough

Abstract: While the presence of women in photojournalism is increasing, the way they are treated by their male counterparts remains unbalanced. Drawing from feminist theory and embodiment, this study examines how the gendered experience plays out for women in a particular niche of photojournalism; concert photography. The restricted access of the music scene and the […]

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Context clues: News audiences and their higher valuation of contextualist journalistic roles Kyser Lough

Abstract: This study explores the news audiences’ perceptions of journalistic roles, in particular the contextualist role, through a U.S. nationally-representative survey. As members of the public lose trust and interest in the media, some outlets are turning to forms of reporting like constructive/solutions journalism to provide a greater context to news consumers. Our survey shows […]

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Cameramen and Congresswomen: How photojournalists framed female candidates in the Year of the Woman Andrea Briscoe and Kyser Lough

Abstract: This paper explores how female politicians were visually depicted in the 2018 midterm elections in the United States. Through a content analysis of published photographs of female candidates from both winning and losing campaigns, this work adds to the body of literature on visual framing in American politics, with a specific focus on women. […]

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Transitioning to solutions journalism: One newsroom’s shift to solutions-focused reporting. Kyser Lough

Abstract: Solutions journalism — rigorous news reporting on how people are responding to social problems — has gained much attention in the past five years as newsrooms have looked for innovative ways to increase audience engagement. Several news outlets have launched solutions journalism initiatives. However, oftentimes news outlets separate their solution-focused news coverage from their […]

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Teaching Specialties

Dr. Lough’s teaching specialties include visual communication, specifically photojournalism, graphic design and visual method/theory, as well as general newswriting and related journalism courses.


Prior to pursuing his Ph.D., Dr. Lough spent 10 years as a photojournalist, reporter and public relations practitioner. His work has appeared for the Associated Press and NCAA and in the Austin American-Statesman, Lexington Herald-Leader, Louisville Courier-Journal, Murray Ledger & Times and American Hunter Magazine among others. He continues to freelance as a photographer in Athens and specializes in concert and sports photography.

Awards and Fellowships

  • Selected participant, Solutions Journalism Educators Academy, 2019
  • Graduate School Summer Fellowship, University of Texas at Austin, 2019
  • Jesse H. Jones Fellowship, Moody College of Communication, University of Texas at Austin, 2018
  • Inclusive Classrooms Leadership Certificate Seminar, 2018
In the News

Photojournalism research reframes way visuals are used

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"How to make visual journalism more impactful" via 2019 GEN Summit

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