Photo on 2013-05-06 at 15.19 #2

Welcome to, the personal website of Michael Fuhlhage and home of my blog. I considered calling my blog “The Janus-Faced Journalist” in honor of Janus, the ancient Roman god of beginnings and endings. Janus was represented in ancient art as a deity with two faces, one looking back and one ahead, symbolizing Janus’ watch over the transition from the past into the future.

That’s probably too obscure a reference in these postmodern times. Yet the symbol uniquely fits what I do:  researching the history of American news and information media and teaching reporting, editing and multimedia journalism to prepare college students to enter professional journalism.

I worked as an editor and writer in news, features, and sports for 12 years in daily newspaper newsrooms that included the Desert Sun of Palm Springs, the Des Moines Register, and Santa Fe New Mexican. It was at the New Mexican that I really came to understand what community journalism could be. It was there that I also won my first statewide awards for news design and typography.

After that, I eased into academia by joining the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism as an assistant professor of journalism specializing in news editing and design. In that role, I spent about 70 percent of my time supervising and coaching copy editing and design students at the Columbia Missourian, the school’s learning laboratory in community journalism. When I joined, it was just a newspaper, but it was pivoting to a digital-first orientation by the time I left to pursue a doctorate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

With degree in hand three years later, in 2010, I joined the journalism faculty at Auburn University, which was just beginning to branch into the digital world. There, I branched into social media, multimedia, and Web 2.0 journalism. I also introduced nonlinear audio storytelling to the news reporting course. This blog has been the online home of JRNL 3510 Multimedia Journalism, which introduced students to blogging on WordPress as a content management system. The sites they created in this course gave them a home to showcase the photo galleries, audio slideshows, data visualizations, blog posts, and “invisible reporter”- or “Men in Black”-style  documentary-style videos  they made about people, places, and ideas in and around Auburn.

Since fall 2014, I have been an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Wayne State University. It was a move up for me, from a master’s-degree-granting RU/H program (in the old Carnegie classifications it would have been called an R2) to a doctorate-granting RU/VH (or Carnegie R1) program. We place a strong emphasis on diversity and hard news in Wayne State’s journalism program, and our department is heavily involved in public broadcasting and community journalism.

I am fascinated with the ways journalists adjust to demographic, social, and technological change. My research examines the role of mass media in the othering of Latinos in historical and contemporary contexts, media influences on public policy, and the practices and products of journalists during wars and disasters. The question of media influence has led me to broaden my research horizons from representations of race and conflicts in news media to examining the functions of news and information networks in the mid-nineteenth century.

Professional experience during the rise of online journalism informs my teaching of reporting, news writing, editing, and design, though I see teaching journalism history as a special treat. I also teach graduate seminars in propaganda and public opinion and historical research methods in mass communication and journalism. I deeply enjoy collaborating on research with our doctoral and master’s students. We have presented our work together at national conferences.

When I’m not working, I enjoy sketching, storytelling of all kinds, and playing around on piano and guitar. There is probably a bass guitar in my future sometime soon.

Ph.D., Mass Communication, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
M.A., Journalism, Missouri School of Journalism
B.S.J., News-Editorial Journalism, University of Kansas