Douglas Underwood

M.A, Journalism, Ohio State, 1974

Office: CMU 240
Phone: (206) 685-9377

Doug Underwood is Professor of Communication who teaches in the areas of media ethics, media and religion, journalism and literature, and journalism and trauma. He is the author of ­­five books, including Journalism and the Novel (2008), From Yahweh to Yahoo! (2002), and When MBAs Rule the Newsroom (1993). From Yahweh to Yahoo! was awarded a distinguished book award in 2003 by the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

His latest book, The Undeclared War between Journalism and Fiction, explores the assertions of “new” or “literary” journalists who believe that the best of their non-fiction should be included in the literary canon. It compares this viewpoint with other writers who have come out of journalism but believed that fiction writing was the better place to express what is timeless and universal about the human experience.

He also has studied the impact of trauma, violence, and emotional distress in the careers of 150 important American and British journalist-literary figures dating back to the early 1700s. His 2011 book, Chronicling Trauma: Journalists and Writers on Violence and Loss, examines the influence of childhood neglect, substance abuse issues, war-time experiences, and other traumatic events in the lives and literature of these figures.

He has published in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Journalism History, Journal of Media and Religion, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, and other scholarly publications on such topics as journalism economics, technology in the newsroom, the historical relationship of journalism and religion, the influence of journalism upon the development of the novel, and the effect of profit pressures upon journalists. His publications include survey research projects – among them national surveys of newspaper management practices, the religious and ethical values of journalists, and journalists’ literary interests and ambitions. He also has been a contributor to the professional media review, Columbia Journalism Review.

Underwood teaches undergraduate courses in journalism ethics, journalism and literature, press and politics, and narrative journalism, where advanced journalism students have the chance to practice writing creative non-fiction. He teaches a class, “Trauma, News, and Narrative,” and a graduate seminar, “Media, Myth, and Ritual,” which looks at the way media operate in a secular society with many of the characteristics that traditionally have been imputed to religion and spirituality.

He joined the communication faculty in 1987 after a thirteen-year career as a political journalist and investigative reporter. He was the Olympia legislative bureau chief and the chief political writer for The Seattle Times (1981-1987); a congressional correspondent and environmental specialist in the Gannett News Service’s Washington, D.C. bureau (1976-1981); and a labor and government reporter for the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal (1974-1976). His investigative reporting into recruiting corruption in the Michigan State University football program won the 1975 Michigan Associated Press Sports Story of the Year Award. He also was cited in the 1984 Missouri-Penney feature writing award to the Seattle Times.


Selected Publications

The Undeclared War between Journalism and Fiction: Journalists as Genre Benders in Literary History. Palgrave Macmillan.  In press

“Religion in Print,” in Diane Winston, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media,” Oxford University Press. 2012.

Chronicling Trauma: Journalists and Writers on Violence and Loss. University of Illinois Press. 2011.

Journalism and the Novel: Truth and Fiction, 1700-2000. Cambridge University Press. 2008.

“Transcending the News: Religious Ambivalence among the Famous Journalist-Literary Figures and Literature as the Uncertain Path to Immortality.” Journal of Media and Religion. 2007.

“Depression, Drink, and Dissipation: The Troubled Inner World of Famous Journalist-Literary Figures and Art as the Ultimate Stimulant.” Journalism History. 2007.

“The Problem with Paul: Seeds of the Culture Wars and the Dilemma for Journalists.” Journal of Media and Religion. 2006.

“Journalists with Literary Ambitions No Less Satisfied with Their Jobs.” Newspaper Research Journal. 2006. With Dana Bagwell.

From Yahweh to Yahoo!: The Religious Roots of the Secular Press. University of Illinois Press. 2002.

“Are Journalists Really Irreligious?: A Multidimensional Analysis.” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. 2001. With Keith Stamm.

“Secularists or Modern Day Prophets?: Journalists’ Ethics and the Judeo-Christian Tradition.” Journal of Mass Media Ethics. 2001.

“Reporting and the Push for Market-Oriented Journalism: Media Organizations as Businesses,” in W. Lance Bennett and Robert M. Entman, eds., Mediated Politics: Communication in the Future of Democracy. Cambridge University Press. 2001.

“Market Research and the Audience for Political News,” in Doris Graber, Denis McQuail, and Pippa Norris, eds., The Politics of News; The News of Politics. Congressional Quarterly Press. 1998.

“Assembly-Line Journalism.” Columbia Journalism Review. July/August 1998.

“It’s Not Just in L.A.” Columbia Journalism Review. January/February 1998.

“How Pagination Affects Job Satisfaction of Editors.” Journalism Quarterly. 1995. With Keith Stamm and C. Anthony Giffard.

When MBAs Rule the Newsroom: How the Marketers and Managers Are Reshaping Today’s Media. Columbia University Press. 1993.

“The Very Model of the Reader-Driven Newsroom.” Columbia Journalism Review. November/December 1993.

“Balancing Business with Journalism: Newsroom Policies at 12 West Coast Newspapers.” Journalism Quarterly. 1992. With Keith Stamm.

“When MBAs Rule the Newsroom.” Columbia Journalism Review. March/April 1988.