Ph.D. Profile: Marcus Howard

Marcus Howard is reaching the final stretch of his doctoral degree and he can look back knowing he packed a lot into his time at UGA.

While at Grady College, Howard taught several classes including newswriting and Journalism Ethics and Diversity; he wrote a book about media literacy called “How Journalists and the Public Shape our Democracy: From Social Media and ‘Fake News’ to Reporting Just the Facts;” and he worked as a graduate assistant with the UGA at Oxford program.

“Learning from University of Oxford faculty and mentoring undergraduates has been an incredible experience,” Howard said.

Howard earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Boston College and a master’s degree in political and global affairs journalism from Columbia University before enjoying a career as a reporter for Reuters, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, among others. He soon realized he missed the in-depth discussions and atmosphere that academia provides.

“I also wanted to deepen my knowledge and understanding of issues surrounding politics, race and media,” Howard continued. “Ideally, I would like to work at a university in a position that would allow me to also continue writing for mass audiences in some capacity.”

While at Grady College, his research has focused on political and international communication with an emphasis on race, culture and social movements, and it is through his teaching that he has earned a more varied understanding of his studies.

“Teaching has been rewarding because the process forced me to consider journalism from a broader perspective than what one experiences as a reporter knee-deep in it. Studying the history, concepts, great stories and future of journalism, along with students, has given me new perspectives of the profession.”

Marcus Howard is teaching Journalism Ethics and Diversity this semester.

As he nears the end of his studies, he advises that students considering going back to school for a doctorate degree should seriously consider the amount of work and sacrifice involved.

“Ultimately, it’s a rewarding journey, but one not without some hardships,” Howard concludes. “Having a clear idea of what you want to study and which faculty researchers you’d like to work with are very helpful. And, having emotional support and/or an outlet for stress are invaluable.”

Grady doctoral student’s fake news research becomes book

Marcus E. Howard, journalist and Grady doctoral student, recently wrote a media literacy book in partnership with the Georgia Humanities Council and Atlanta Press Club.

“How Journalists and the Public Shape Our Democracy: From Social Media and ‘Fake News’ to Reporting Just the Facts” educate the public on the societal phenomenon surrounding facts and misperceptions of journalism.

Janice Hume, head of Grady’s journalism department and Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for Excellence in Journalism; Kelly Caudle, Georgia Humanities; and Lauri Strauss, Atlanta Press Club, approached Howard about the controversial phenomenon of “fake news.”

“As we see globally today and historically, people suffer when there is only one version of the truth handed down from the government,” Howard said.

As a journalist for more than ten years, Howard agrees that criticism of the press is good, however, political attacks on the media can alter accountability of reporting. He hopes the book will demystify journalists’ efforts for timely and accurate news while also demonstrating to readers how mistakes occur and how the profession works towards correcting and improving journalism.

“Marcus did a fantastic job pulling together all the research and writing on a tight timeline,” Caudle said.

The book is in narrative form, when each chapter starts with a story related to the topic. Issues range from social media to native advertisements.

“One minute you’ll be reading about the journalism ideals of Walter Lippmann and the next minute you’ll learn how the Kardashians’ use of native advertisements landed them in hot water,” Howard said.

Howard spent last summer researching on campus and reaching out to media experts at Grady and within the state. Monica Pearson (MA ’14), a retired WSB-TV Atlanta news anchor, wrote the forward of the book in order to bring trusted credibility to the project. Howard also spent the summer attending panels and events.

“[Atlanta] featured panel discussions with prominent journalists who talked about many of the issues raised in the book,” Howard said. “The turnout was impressive, which I think is a testament to how interested and concerned people are about the state of news media. I hope the book enlightens them on their paths in some small way.”

Read Howard’s book, available online, here.