LSU Political Communication Assistant Professor Joshua Darr Named 2022 Carnegie Fellow

April 26, 2022

Josh Darr, Ph.D.BATON ROUGE—Joshua Darr, LSU assistant professor of political communication, is one of 28 scholars nationwide to be selected for the 2022 Class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows. He was chosen from a competitive pool of nearly 300 academics, journalists and authors to receive philanthropic support for scholarly research in the social sciences and humanities. Darr and LSU Professor of Geography Andrew Sluyter, also in the 2022 cohort, are LSU’s first Carnegie Fellows.

“LSU’s drive for excellence is rooted in our mission to support discovery and serve, which is exemplified by the outstanding achievements of Dr. Darr and Dr. Sluyter, our two Andrew Carnegie Fellows. Now more than ever does our society need scholars prepared to seek truth, demonstrate empathy and inspire the generations to come,” said LSU President William F. Tate IV.

As a Carnegie Fellow, Darr will receive a $200,000 stipend from the fellowship program to support his project, “Partnering with Local News to Reduce Polarization.” He will work with the American Journalism Project, a venture philanthropy fund for local news, to study the local impact of opening new nonprofit newsrooms. Additionally, he will work with Trusting News, a journalism training organization with many affiliated newsrooms, to detail how journalists handle polarizing topics and assess what sorts of language and editing choices can bring back readers who have lost trust in their local news.

“Dr. Darr’s research is the kind of work that bridges the gap between industry and academia, drawing journalists and social scientists’ attention to the future of local news and its impact on political polarization, political knowledge and democracy overall,” said Josh Grimm, interim dean of the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. “His scholarship has far-reaching implications for the news industry, as well as policymakers, politicians and communities. We could not be more proud of Dr. Darr’s incredible recognition as a Carnegie Fellow.”

In their 2021 book, “Home Style Opinion: How Local Newspapers Can Slow Polarization,” Darr and coauthors Matthew Hitt and Johanna Dunaway worked with a local California newspaper to study the effects of dropping national opinion coverage. They wanted to know: When a newspaper increases its emphasis on local issues, can it help bridge the political gaps in their community? And they found the answer is yes: Polarization increases after newspapers close, and local newspapers can push back against polarization by discussing national politics less.

Darr said his Carnegie research project is a natural follow-up in many ways to “Home Style Opinion.” He enjoyed working with a real newsroom, as opposed to data only. The opportunity to connect academic research to address industry issues through real-world partnerships has been rewarding. He hopes this work will contribute to the ongoing conversation about how local news can survive these tough times and thrive in the future.

“I think that academics and journalists can learn a lot from each other, and that rigorous social scientific research can contribute to a solution to the local news crisis that America faces today,” Darr said. “I am worried by America’s current local news crisis, in which circulation and advertising revenue are plummeting, hedge funds are buying up the ghosts of old newspapers, and it is unclear what the future holds. So much research shows that the health of local news and democracy are linked, and I’m grateful to Carnegie for supporting this project that will help us better understand that connection.”

Darr holds a joint appointment in LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication and LSU’s Department of Political Science. He earned a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Pennsylvania and has been a faculty member at LSU since 2015.

The Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program is a continuation of the mission of Carnegie Corporation of New York, as founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1911, to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding. The award is for a period of up to two years, and while the anticipated result is generally a book or major study, this year’s fellowships will also result in an art installation, software applications and digital platforms. 


LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication ranks among the strongest collegiate communication programs in the country, with its robust emphasis on media and public affairs. It offers undergraduate degrees in public relations, journalism, political communication, digital advertising and pre-law, along with four graduate degree programs: Master of Mass Communication, Ph.D. in Media and Public Affairs, Certificate of Strategic Communication and a dual MMC/Law degree. Its public relations students were recently ranked the #1 team in the nation, and its digital advertising and student media teams frequently earn national recognition. Like us on Facebook (@ManshipSchool) or follow us on Twitter (@ManshipSchool), Instagram (@ManshipSchool) and LinkedIn (LSU Manship School of Mass Communication).