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Dr. Allissa V. Richardson is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School. She researches how African Americans use mobile and social media to produce innovative forms of journalism — especially in times of crisis. 

Dr. Richardson is the author of the award-winning book, Bearing Witness While Black: African Americans, Smartphones and the New Protest #Journalism (Oxford University Press, 2020). The book explores the lives of 15 mobile journalist-activists who documented the Black Lives Matter movement using only their smartphones and Twitter, from 2014 to 2018. The text has won the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication's Tankard Book Award and its Frank Luther Mott Book Award. It is also the recipient of the International Communication Association's Best Book Award in Political Communication. 

Dr. Richardson’s research is informed by her award-winning work as an instructor and journalist. She is considered a pioneer in mobile journalism (MOJO), having launched the first smartphone-only college newsroom in 2010. The MOJO Lab, based on the campus of Morgan State University in Baltimore, was the only American college to boast such a program at the time. 

Dr. Richardson expanded the MOJO Lab curriculum throughout the continent of Africa, creating classes for allied nonprofit organizations in Morocco and South Africa. The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) said Richardson empowered her students around the globe “to speak truth to power using new media.” NABJ recognized her as its 2012 Journalism Educator of the Year for her international work. Apple, Inc. inducted Dr. Richardson into its elite Distinguished Educator program for her innovative uses of its products the following year. She is also a recipient of two prestigious Harvard University posts: the Nieman Foundation’s Visiting Journalism Fellowship and the Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society Fellowship.

Dr. Richardson’s research has been published in Journal of Communication, Digital Journalism, Journalism Studies, The Black Scholar and many other venues. One of her most highly-cited papers, ""Dismantling Respectability,"" won the $10,000 grand prize at the University of Florida's frank research competition in 2020.

Dr. Richardson has lectured to diverse and wide-ranging audiences around the world—from SXSW to SnapChat, Microsoft and the NFL. Her expertise in mobile media activism has made her a frequent commentator for news outlets such as ABC, BBC, CBC, Columbia Journalism Review, Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, NPR, Teen Vogue and Vox. Dr. Richardson is also a sought-after educational technology consultant who has designed courses for Google, YouTube and PBS.

Dr. Richardson serves on the editorial boards of Digital Journalism and the International Journal of Communication. She is an affiliated researcher with New York University’s Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies (CR + DS) also.

Dr. Richardson holds a Ph.D. in Journalism Studies from the University of Maryland College Park; a Master's Degree in Magazine Publishing from Northwestern University's Medill School; and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Xavier University of Louisiana, where she was named a “Top 40 Under 40” alumna.


Just Tech

Trends in Mobile Journalism: Bearing Witness, Building Movements, and Crafting Counternarratives

Allissa Richardson examines how African American mobile journalism became a model for marginalized people’s political communication across the United States.

Nov 17, 2021

Stop Showing Violent Police Videos

Allissa Richardson interviewed by WBUR

May 6, 2021

The Verdict, the Video, and the Unreasonable Burden of Proof

Allissa Richardson joins Slate’s Amicus podcast

Apr 24, 2021
The Washington Post

You have the right to film police. Here’s how to do it effectively — and safely.

Allissa Richardson discusses filming police encounters

Apr 22, 2021

We have enough proof

Allissa Richardson argues against sharing videos of violent police encounters in an op-ed for Vox.

Apr 21, 2021

Here's why one journalism professor argues graphic video of Black deaths shouldn't be broadcast

Dr. Allissa Richardson spoke with WUSA9 about having Black deaths aired on TV

Apr 21, 2021
Harvard Law Today

How ‘digital witnesses’ are documenting history and challenging the status quo

Three community members discuss how young Black people use technology for activism around the world

Mar 18, 2021
Harvard Law Today

Deconstructing the ‘Karen’ meme

Apryl Williams puts memes in historical, cultural context

Feb 3, 2021
Start Making Sense

Black Cellphone Videos and Protest Journalism

Allissa Richardson talks protest journalism on the Start Making Sense podcast

Oct 14, 2020

Allissa Richardson thinks it’s time to shatter a few myths about citizen journalism

Allissa Richardson discusses her new book and the myth of objective journalism

Sep 28, 2020

Mental health and journalism

Allissa Richardson on mental health of Black journalists covering the anti-police brutality and Black Lives Matter protests

Sep 11, 2020
The Atlantic

The Problem With Police-Shooting Videos

Smartphone footage of police brutality highlights a dire need to tell more humane stories about Black victims, Allissa Richardson says

Aug 30, 2020


Mar 2, 2021 @ 12:00 PM

Digital Witnesses: The Power of Looking

Video & Podcast: Featuring Allissa Richardson, Nana Mgbechikwere Nwachukwu, and Hannane Ferdjani

Video & Podcast: A panel exploring how Black people around the world are using digital technology to bear witness to human rights injustices—from the Black Lives Matter movement,…

Feb 1, 2021 @ 12:00 PM

White Surveillance and Black Digital Publics

Video & Podcast: A Conversation with Dr. Apryl A. Williams and Dr. Allissa V. Richardson

Video & Podcast: Dr. Apryl A. Williams and Dr. Allissa V. Richardson will address the long-standing history of White vigilante-style surveillance of Black people in public spaces