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Associate Professor, Washington State University

RYAN J. THOMAS is an assistant professor of journalism studies in the Missouri School of Journalism. He teaches courses in media ethics, qualitative research methods, and mass communication theory.

His research examines the roles and responsibilities of journalism as an institution, and of the journalists within it, amid processes of change. There are two major streams to this research. First, he looks at “journalism about journalism” (or “metajournalism”) to understand how journalists construct their professional identity to audiences. Second, he examines how processes of change – economic, technological, regulatory, etc. – impact or impede journalists’ abilities to execute their democratic functions. His work draws on political and moral philosophy and is anchored in a firm appreciation for the essential role that journalism plays as a prerequisite to a democratic society. Thomas also maintains an ongoing research interest in how labor unions, social movements, and immigrants are represented in journalism.

Thomas’ research has been published in a number of key journals, including Journalism Studies, New Media and Society, Journalism Practice, Critical Studies in Media Communication, and Digital Journalism. He has won top paper awards from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), International Communication Association (ICA), and National Communication Association (NCA). He won the 2009 AEJMC/Kappa Tau Alpha/University of Hawaii Carol Burnett Award for outstanding scholarship in media ethics.

A first-generation college student from Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, Thomas holds a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Swansea University and master’s and doctoral degrees from The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University.


  • 2012–present
    Assistant professor, School of Journalism, University of Missouri-Columbia


  • 2012 
    Washington State University, Ph.D., Communication
  • 2008 
    Washington State University, M.A., Communication
  • 2005 
    Swansea University, B.A., American Studies

Professional Memberships

  • Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication
  • International Communication Association