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Andrea Wenzel

Andrea Wenzel is an assistant professor of journalism at Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication. Her research focuses on how residents of changing multiethnic communities negotiate difference through media, culture, and everyday interaction. As a Tow Fellow, she has led projects on political polarization, local news, rural-urban divides, and digital and offline community engagement. With the University of Southern California’s Metamorphosis project, she led research on community-based solutions journalism. She has also explored outreach initiatives that combine food and dialogue about racial justice. Andrea previously spent 15 years as a public radio producer, editor, and media development consultant. She has managed projects and trained media makers in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq, and India for media development organizations such as BBC Media Action and Internews—and has taught journalism as a Fulbright Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana. Andrea produced global affairs series including WAMU’s Latitudes and WBEZ’s Worldview as well as features and documentaries for a range of US and international outlets. She holds a PhD from the USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and an MA and BA from the University of Chicago.

Tow Center Projects:

Engaging communities through solutions journalism is a collaborative research project that assessed how audiences process local solutions-oriented stories, and their online and offline behavioral intentions. Adapting stories developed through a Metamorphosis research group project connecting South Los Angeles community organizations and local media, South LA residents participated in focus groups exploring the impact of solutions-oriented community-based journalism. The project made recommendations for a model for solutions journalism interventions that may be particularly useful for diverse communities.

Curious Communities: This report asks what we can learn from Curious City’s digital and offline strategies to expand the demographics of people whom media is listening to. It draws from observations of the program’s outreach process and twenty-five interviews with journalists, participating audience members, residents of targeted outreach areas, and partner organizations. It also offers an opportunity to reflect on journalistic norms and approaches to participatory media, how community stakeholders interact with local news, and relations between public media and marginalized publics.

From Polarization to Public Sphere: This research study examines what political polarization and urban-rural divisions look like in the daily lives of residents at the local level. The project focuses on a case study of a region of Kentucky, including the “purple” college town of Bowling Green and the more “red” and rural area of Ohio County. Drawing from interviews and media diaries, the study examines the communication ecologies of residents and the potential for community engagement across demographic and ideological lines. The study also explores challenges and opportunities in the rural media landscape through a workshop with local and regional media and community stakeholders.

Media, mistrust, and marginalization: Case studies from urban and suburban Philadelphia: This study looks at two very different areas of the broader Philadelphia metro media system: one majority African American, political progressive neighborhood; and one majority white and politically divided suburban area. Through a series of focus groups, “story diaries,” and interviews, we examine the network of communication resources residents in each place assemble to meet their information needs. We explore how residents negotiate trust with news outlets and other communication resources—the reasons underlying mistrust, and how they adapt their communication ecologies when facing a deficit of trust.