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Photograph of W. Joseph Campbell

W. Joseph Campbell Professor SOC - Communication Studies

Additional Positions at AU
Faculty coordinator, Communication Studies undergraduate program
PhD University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Dr. W. Joseph Campbell is a tenured full professor in the School of Communication's Communication Studies program.

He joined the AU faculty in 1997, after some 20 years as a professional journalist. Assignments in his award-winning journalism career took him across North America to Europe, West Africa, and parts of Asia.

Campbell is the author of seven books, including most recently Lost in a Gallup: Polling Failure in U.S. Presidential Elections. The book addresses prominent cases in which opinion polls misfired from 1936 to 2016.

Campbell's other books include 1995: The Year the Future Began, which describes watershed moments of a decisive year in American history. Critics have described 1995 as "remarkable" and "compulsively readable."

Campbell also has published two editions of the media-mythbusting book, Getting It Wrong (2010, 2017). The book won the national Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi award for research about journalism.

Campbell has taught 19 different courses at AU, including "Myths of the Media," "Decisive Moments in Communication," "The American 1990s," and "Foreign Policy and the Press."

He is a past winner of the "Faculty Member of the Year" award, given annually by AU's student government. He also has received the "Teaching with Research" award, given by the University's Center for Teaching Research and Learning.

Campbell is a past recipient of the University's faculty award for service to the AU community and of the Morton Bender Prize, which recognizes scholarly achievement by an associate professor. Campbell was promoted to full professor in 2009.

For 16 years, Campbell kept his faculty office in McDowell Hall, an undergraduate residence hall on the North Side of the AU campus, as part of a collaborative program with the University's Office of Campus Life. In that position, Campbell sought to promote informal contacts among students and faculty in a residence hall setting, and to emphasize that academic life at AU extends beyond the classroom. He also taught seminar-style classes in McDowell.

AU Experts

Area of Expertise

News media influence, media myths, presidential polling history, polling, political polls, media and polling, media criticism 

Additional Information

W. Joseph Campbell joined the American University faculty after an award-winning 20-year career as a professional journalist. During his career, Campbell reported from Europe, West Africa, and Asia and from across North America. He is the author of five books, most recently of this Getting It Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism. The critically well-received book addresses and debunks 10 prominent media-driven myths—well-known tales about the news media that are widely believed and often retold but which, under scrutiny, prove to be apocryphal or wildly exaggerated. Getting It Wrong won the 2010 Sigma Delta Chi Award, given by the National Society of Professional Journalists for research about journalism. Campbell's first book, The Emergent Independent Press in Benin and Cote d'Ivoire: From Voice of the State to Advocate of Democracy (1998), challenges the pessimistic assessments common to studies of the press in sub-Saharan Africa. His second book, Yellow Journalism: Puncturing the Myths, Defining the Legacies (2001), offers a sweeping reassessment of one of the most controversial periods in American journalism—that of the Yellow Press at the end of the nineteenth century. Yellow Journalism debunks the notion that the yellow press fomented the Spanish-American War. His third book, The Spanish-American War: American War and the Media in Primary Documents,explores news coverage before, during, and after the conflict of the Spanish-American War that ushered the United States onto the global stage. His fourth book, The Year That Defined American Journalism: 1897 and the Clash of Paradigms (2006), identifies a pivotal moment in the emergence of modern mainstream journalism in the United States. Campbell also has written for a variety of scholarly and trade journals and has lectured at the Library of Congress, the National Press Club, and the Newseum. He is a past chair of the History Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Campbell is the national president of Kappa Tau Alpha, the national honor society recognizing high academic achievement in journalism and mass communication. He has served since 1999 as advisor to American University’s KTA chapter. He is a past winner of the Faculty Member of the Year Award, given by American University’s student government. Campbell’s faculty office is in McDowell Hall, an undergraduate residence hall on the north side of AU’s main campus. His office is there as part of a program of the University’s Office of Campus Life that seeks to encourage informal interaction among AU faculty and students and to emphasize that academic life at AU does not end at the classroom door.

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