Lee Wilkins

Professor Emeritus

280-E Gannett Hall
Missouri School of Journalism
Columbia, MO 65211-1200


LEE WILKINS focuses her research on media ethics, media coverage of the environment and hazards and risks. She is a co-author of one of the country’s best-selling college ethics texts, Media Ethics: Issues and Cases, now in its fifth edition with McGraw-Hill. Wilkins is the associate editor of the country’s leading academic journal on media ethics: The Journal of Mass Media Ethics.

Wilkins was named a Page Legacy Scholar from the Arthur W. Page Center in 2005 and received a $10,000 grant to support the study, The Moral Media: How Public Relations Professionals Reason about Ethics. She has received several other grants to support her research.

The MU Alumni Association named Wilkins as a recipient of the 39th annual Faculty-Alumni Awards in 2006. She has received the William T. Kemper Award for Teaching Excellence in 1998, the highest teaching award on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus. A year earlier the Missouri School of Journalism gave Wilkins its highest teaching award, the O.O. McIntyre Distinguished Professorship. She has taught ethics as a visiting faculty member at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Wilkins has a joint appointment in the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs, where she teaches about communicating risk to the public. Her research in that area has focused on the 1993 Midwest floods, the 1984 Bhopal, India, chemical spill, the 1997 El Nino and integrating knowledge of disaster coverage into coverage of terrorism.

Wilkins holds a doctorate degree in political science and a master’s in journalism from the University of Oregon and bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Missouri. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha of Missouri, and Kappa Tau Alpha at both Missouri and Oregon.

Prior to her academic appointments, Wilkins served as a newspaper editor and reporter in Colorado, Oregon and Michigan.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

  • R. Coleman and L. Wilkins. (2009). “The Moral Development of Public Relations Practitioners: A Comparison with Other Professions.” Journal of Public Relations Research, 21(3 July) 318-340.
  • Elizabeth Hendrickson and Lee Wilkins. (2009). “The Wages of Synergy.” Journalism Practice Vol. 3 (4): 37-391.

Refereed Paper Presentations

  • Seth Ashley, Lee Wilkins and Amanda Wysocki. “Negotiating Privacy in the 21st Century: The Millennial View.” AEJMC annual conference, Boston, Aug. 5-8, 2009.


  • Lee Wilkins and Clifford G. Christians. “The Handbook of Mass Media Ethics.” 2009. Eds. New York: Routledge, pp. v-398. Named best-edited book of 2009 by the ethics division, National Communication Association.

Book Chapters

  • Renita Coleman and Lee Wilkins. “Moral Development: A Psychological Approach to Understanding Ethical Judgment.” 2009. “The Handbook of Mass Media Ethics,” Eds. Wilkins, L., and Christians, C. G. New York: Routledge. pp. 40-54.
  • Lee Wilkins. “Covering Disasters: An Ethical Approach to News Reporting,” in “A Philosophical Approach to Journalism Ethics,” a collection of original essays and commentary, Ed. Christopher Meyers. 2010. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 311-324.
  • Lee Wilkins. “Carol Gilligan: Ethics of Care,” “Mohandas Gandhi: Fellowship of Power,” and “John Dewey: Democratic Conversation,” all in Eds. Clifford G. Christians and John C. Merrill, “Ethical Communication: Moral Stances in Human Dialogue.” 2009. Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press, pp. 33-39; 173-179; and 186-192, respectively.

Selected Publications

  • Books

    • Kent S. Collins, Martha Steffens, Esther Thorson, Lee Wilkins. Reporting Disaster on Deadline, Routledge, 2012. 144 pages.
    • Lee Wilkins, Renita Coleman. The Moral Media: How Journalists Reason About Ethics, Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 2005.
    • Lee Wilkins, Philip Patterson. Media Ethics: Issues and Cases, 7th Edition, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008. This book also is published in Korean and Chinese.
    • Lee Wilkins, Stephen J.A. Ward and Herman Wasserman. Media Ethics Beyond Borders: A Global Perspective, Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 2008.

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