Cory MacNeil

Doctoral Student

I arrived at the University of Missouri at the close of a 20-year career in the U.S. Army having turned down a promotion to sergeant major and a signing bonus so that I could attend the doctoral program at the School of Journalism. I made that strategic decision as I saw a unique opportunity to begin a new career of significance and contribution by combining my experience from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan with research questions of how we converse about war through news media. 

My research investigates the role war reporting plays in posing moral and ethical questions to society. For journalists, my research inquiries pertain to the nature of professional norms such as journalists as neutral observers (stenographers) or journalists as informed communicators (advocates). For journalism organizations, my research inquiries pertain to the influence of constraints, restraints, and risk aversion. For audiences, my research inquiries pertain to intellectual interaction with news media, what it means to be informed, and what to do when informed. 

My research explores visual and written communication for their ability to present audiences with complex messages by examining the two-way lens of photojournalism—seeing is believing and believing is seeing—and probing the latent connotation of words when positioned to describe the meaning of actions in the world. 

Combining the experience of my military career with my academic training, I am in a unique position as a media sociology scholar to ask pertinent research questions about the nature of reporting the buildup, conduct, and recovery from conflict and war, then pivot those questions to learn about news making as a process of narration and direction mediated through the collective memory aid of journalism.

Updated: February 13, 2024