Knight Center Research Group

The Knight Center Research Group is focused on issues related to journalism and press freedom in Latin America and the Caribbean. Professor Rosental Alves and research fellows from the Moody College of Communication and its School of Journalism and Media have been conducting research on Latin American media issues for several years, resulting in the publication of peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers.

Rosental Alves

Rosental Calmon AlvesRosental Alves is the first holder of the Knight Chair in Journalism title. A pioneer of online journalism in his native Brazil, Alves had a 27-year career as a journalist and educator before moving to the United States in 1996, where he began his role as Knight Chair at the University of Texas at Austin. Since 1997, he has taught classes in online journalism, international reporting, press freedom in Latin America and entrepreneurial journalism at UT Austin.

He is also founding director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, an outreach program that helps thousands of journalists around the world with online training. The Knight Center’s innovative massive open online courses have reached more than 275,000 students from 200 countries and territories.

In Rio de Janeiro, Alves became a journalist at 16 and a journalism professor at 21. After more than a decade as a foreign correspondent in Europe, North America and South America, Alves returned to Rio to become an editor, then executive editor and director of Jornal do Brasil, then a leading national newspaper. Alves launched the first Brazilian online news service specializing in financial news, and Jornal do Brasil Online, the first Brazilian newspaper on the web and a pioneer in Latin America.


Amy Schmitz Weiss

Amy Schmitz WeissAmy Schmitz Weiss is a professor in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008.

She has received multiple internal and external grants for her research in digital journalism innovation from AEJMC, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Online News Association, SDSU University Grants Program and the SDSU's Projects for the Public Good.

She also is a former journalist who has been involved in new media for more than a decade. She has worked in business development, marketing analysis and account management for several Chicago Internet media firms.

Her research interests include spatial journalism, online journalism, media sociology, news production, multimedia journalism and international communication. Her research has been published in several peer-reviewed journals, as book chapters and in a book she co-edited.

She teaches journalism courses in basic writing and editing, multimedia, web design, data journalism, mobile journalism, sensor journalism, media entrepreneurship and spatial journalism.


Lourdes Cueva Chacón

Lourdes Cueva ChacónLourdes M. Cueva Chacón is an assistant professor for the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2020 and also holds a M.A. in Communication (UTEP, 2010) and a M.S. in Information Science (UNC Chapel Hill, 2005).

Her research addresses questions about social, historical, and systemic forces, as well as individual traits that influence journalistic practices and routines and their effects on the coverage of minority and marginalized communities in the U.S. Her research is informed by her professional experience covering the U.S.-Mexico border and teaching at Hispanic-Serving Institutions.

Dr. Cueva Chacón also researches Latin American journalism and how digital tools are changing journalistic practices in the continent—especially within investigative journalism— and the ways these new practices are strengthening democracy in these countries. More recently, she has focused on transnational collaboration among digital native media outlets in Latin America.

Her research has been published in top peer-reviewed papers such as Digital Journalism, Feminist Media Studies, Mass Communication and Society, Journalism Practice, among others.


Summer Harlow

Summer HarlowSummer Harlow is an associate professor of journalism in the Valenti School of Communication at the University of Houston. A former journalist, she earned her Ph.D. in Journalism and an M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Trilingual (English, Spanish, and Portuguese), she researches the intersections of journalism (mainstream and alternative), social movements, and emerging media technologies, with an emphasis on Latin America and marginalized groups.

She is a former Inter-American Foundation Grassroots Development Fellow, and her dissertation won the Nafziger-White-Salwen Dissertation Award for best dissertation in the field from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. She has written two books: Digital Native News and the Remaking of Latin American Mainstream and Alternative Journalism (Routledge, 2022), and Liberation Technology in El Salvador: Re-appropriating Social Media among Alternative Media Projects (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2017), which won the AEJMC-Knudson Latin America Book prize.

Her scholarly work has received numerous recognitions from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and has been published in top peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Communication, International Journal of Press/Politics, New Media & Society, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, and Digital Journalism Journalism. Before coming to UH, she was an assistant professor of social media at Florida State University. Currently, she is the primary investigator for El Salvador and Guatemala in the Wolds of Journalism Study.


Vanessa de Macedo Higgins Joyce

Vanessa de Macedo Higgins Joyce

Vanessa de Macedo Higgins Joyce is an associate professor focused on global journalism, media effects and democracy at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University. Her studies look at the evolution of journalism in an interconnected world, focusing on transnational news and their effects, as well as the changing roles of journalists in comparative, cross national analyses.

Her work specializes in Latin America, which in the past few decades has undergone a particularly relevant transformation within the journalism landscape amidst a tumultuous context of insecure democracies. She received her undergraduate degree in Social Communication/Journalism from Pontifícia Universidade Católica, in São Paulo, Brazil. In her native Brazil, she worked as an analyst for two public opinion research companies and as a journalist for two digital native news organizations. She received her Masters and Doctorate degrees from the School of Journalism at The University of Texas at Austin.

She has published two books that were co-authored with leading experts in global media: From Telenovelas to Netflix: Transnational, Transverse Television in Latin America (2021) and The evolution of television: An analysis of ten years of TGI Latin America (2004-2014) (2016).  Her work has been published at top peer-reviewed journals, such as Journalism, Journalism Practice and International Communication Gazette. She received the recent Latino/Latin American Communication Research Award at AEJMC 2018 for her study titled Seeking Transnational, Entrepreneurial News from Latin America: An Audience Analysis.