Skip to main content

Nikki Usher

Visiting Scholar

Nikki Usher, PhD (they/them) is an associate professor in communication studies whose research focuses on new technology, politics, and the news media, with a particular focus on how power, inequality, and economics impact our news and information environment. Dr. Usher's current work considers how political partisanship and changes in contemporary journalism threaten democratic institutions.

Dr. Usher's research focuses on news in the changing digital environment, blending insights from media sociology and political communication to understand tremendous challenges facing the local news industry in the US-- and what this means for civic life, particularly in historically marginalized communities. Dr. Usher is also researching mis and disinformation, political corruption, hyperpartisanship and right-wing populism, and digital platforms as civic communication infrastructure. Dr. Usher is known for their ethnographic work that focuses on the technological, economic, and cultural factors that impact news production in elite national and international news organizations. In 2022, Dr. Usher received a New Directions Fellowship from the Mellon Foundation. Their newest book, News for the Rich, White, and Blue: How Place and Power Distort American Journalism (Columbia, 2021), is the winner of the Hazel Gaudet-Erksine International Journal of Press Politics Book Award and the ICA's Journalism Studies Division Outstanding Book Award. Dr. Usher is also the author of Making News at The New York Times (University of Michigan Press, 2014), Interactive Journalism: Hackers, Data, and Code (University of Illinois, 2016), and co-editor of Journalism Research that Matters (Oxford, 2021), with Valerie Belair-Gagnon. They are a senior fellow at the Open Markets Institute's Center for Journalism and Liberty and frequently serve as an expert source for the popular press. Dr. Usher is the Journal of Communication Book Review co-editor and co-edits the Oxford University Press book series, Journalism and Political Communication Unbound. Prior to their appointment at USD, Dr. Usher was a professor at the University of Illinois and an associate professor at George Washington University.