Sue Robinson

Position title: Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow (2020-2021)

Helen Firstbrook Franklin Professor of Journalism, School of Journalism & Mass Communication, UW-Madison

Photograph image of a woman standing against a wall with short hair and glasses smiling and wearing a red jacket

Trusting Journalists: How Identities and Structures Matter in the Newswork of a Polarized, Multicultural World

This book project explores how journalists of different identities, especially racial, enact trusting relationships with their audiences according to flawed sets of principles. This macro-institutional, meso-organizational, micro-individual interrogation uncovers the power relationships involving journalism via case-study research, textual analysis, in-depth interviews, and focus groups. Using Critical Race Theory/discourse analysis, this work explores how the ever-increasing media-trust initiatives remain steeped in power dynamics and inform a new model for journalistic trust-building, in consideration of reporters’ personal backgrounds as well as the problematic histories and present-day inequities of the institutions and community structures they are operating within.

Dr. Sue Robinson (Ph.D., Temple University, 2007) holds the Helen Firstbrook Franklin Professor of Journalism endowed research chair at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Journalism & Mass Communication. A former journalist for more than a decade, Robinson teaches and researches journalism studies, power and privilege, digital technologies, and mediated ecologies as well as race and media. She is the author of Networked News, Racial Divides: How power and privilege shape public discourse in progressive communities (Cambridge University Press, 2018). She is at work on two additional books, including one on the post-journalism era with Oxford University Press and one about how journalists build trust and report according to their identities. Her research is meant to be applicable to “the real world” and thus, Robinson nurtures partnerships with newsrooms, non-profits, and organizations that are trying to change problematic structures and systems. Some of her collaborations have been with: the Minority Student Achievement Network, Freedom Inc., Lussier Community Center, Goodman Community Center, Kettering Foundation, Hearken, Democracy Fund, Knight Foundation, the Aspen Institute, Membership Puzzle Project and Trusting News.