About Jenna Spinelle

Jenna Spinelle is a journalism instructor at Penn State's Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. She's also the communications specialist for the university's McCourtney Institute for Democracy, where she hosts and produces the Democracy Works podcast.

Jenna's website

NBN Episodes hosted by Jenna:

Kimberly Meltzer, “From News to Talk: The Expansion of Opinion and Commentary in U.S. Journalism” (SUNY Press, 2019)

February 14, 2024

From News to Talk

Kimberly Meltzer
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

From talking heads on cable news to hot takes online, there seems to be more opinion than ever in journalism these days. There’s an entire body of res…

Andie Tucher, "Not Exactly Lying: Fake News and Fake Journalism in American History" (Columbia UP, 2022)

June 13, 2022

Not Exactly Lying

Andie Tucher
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

Long before the current preoccupation with “fake news,” American newspapers routinely ran stories that were not quite, strictly speaking, true. Today,…

Mónica Guzmán, "I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times" (BenBella Books, 2022)

May 9, 2022

I Never Thought of It That Way

Mónica Guzmán
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

Journalist Mónica Guzmán is the loving liberal daughter of Mexican immigrants who voted—twice—for Donald Trump. When the country could no longer see s…

Jerry Ceppos, "Covering Politics in the Age of Trump" (Louisiana State UP, 2021)

March 23, 2022

Covering Politics in the Age of Trump

Jerry Ceppos
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

As the United States moves on from the Trump era — and perhaps begins to contemplate what a second one might look like — conversations about journalis…

Kathy Roberts Forde and Sid Bedingfield, "Journalism and Jim Crow: White Supremacy and the Black Struggle for a New America" (U Illinois Press, 2021)

February 24, 2022

Journalism and Jim Crow

Kathy Roberts Forde and Sid Bedingfield
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

White publishers and editors used their newspapers to build, nurture, and protect white supremacy across the South in the decades after the Civil War.…

Paula Lynn Ellis et al., "News for US: Citizen-Centered Journalism" (Cognella, 2021)

February 7, 2022

News for US

Paula Lynn Ellis, Paul S. Voakes and Lori Bergen
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

In the midst of the disruptions and distrust that have plagued traditional media in recent years, and a degree of polarization rarely seen in American…

Matt Carlson et al., "News After Trump: Journalism's Crisis of Relevance in a Changed Media Culture" (Oxford UP, 2021)

January 19, 2022

News After Trump

Matt Carlson, Sue Robinson, and Seth C. Lewis
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

Political scientists have argued that Donald Trump exacerbated long-simmering changes in polarization, populism, and other aspects of politics. In the…

Will Mari, "The American Newsroom: A History, 1920-1960" (U Missouri Press, 2021)

October 15, 2021

The American Newsroom

Will Mari
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

The story of the American newsroom is that of modern American journalism. In The American Newsroom: A History, 1920-1960 (University of Missouri Press…

Caitlin Petre, "All the News That’s Fit to Click: How Metrics Are Transforming the Work of Journalists" (Princeton UP, 2021)

September 10, 2021

All the News That’s Fit to Click

Caitlin Petre
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

Over the past 15 years, journalism has experienced a rapid proliferation of data about online reader behavior in the form of web metrics. These newsro…

Ken Ellingwood, "First to Fall: Elijah Lovejoy and the Fight for a Free Press in the Age of Slavery" (Pegasus Books, 2021)

July 16, 2021

First to Fall

Ken Ellingwood
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

In First to Fall: Elijah Lovejoy and the Fight for a Free Press in the Age of Slavery (Pegasus Books, 2021), Ken Ellingwood takes readers back to the …

Joshua P. Darr et al., "Home Style Opinion: How Local Newspapers Can Slow Polarization" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

July 7, 2021

Home Style Opinion

Joshua P. Darr, Matthew P. Hitt, and Johanna L. Dunaway
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

The connection between local news and political polarization is a hot topic that scholars in political science, journalism, and other fields have expl…

Nikki Usher, "News for the Rich, White, and Blue: How Place and Power Distort American Journalism" (Columbia UP, 2021)

June 23, 2021

News for the Rich, White, and Blue

Nikki Usher
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

The future of local news and the connection between local news and democracy are two of the hottest topics in philanthropy, education, and media these…

Jacob L. Nelson, "Imagined Audiences: How Journalists Perceive and Pursue the Public" (Oxford UP, 2021)

June 15, 2021

Imagined Audiences

Jacob L. Nelson
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

Many believe the solution to ongoing crises in the news industry — including profound financial instability and public distrust — is for journalists t…

Andrea Wenzel, "Community-Centered Journalism: Engaging People, Exploring Solutions, and Building Trust" (U Illinois Press, 2020)

June 4, 2021

Community-Centered Journalism

Andrea Wenzel
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

At a time when trust in the media is low and "news deserts" are increasing across the United States, engaged journalism offers a framework for connect…

Lewis Raven Wallace, “The View from Somewhere: Undoing the Myth of Journalistic Objectivity” (U Chicago Press, 2019)

March 17, 2020

The View from Somewhere

Lewis Raven Wallace
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

From the New York Times to NPR, many major news organizations have strict policies about how reporters can conduct themselves in relation to the stori…

Theda Skocpol, "Upending American Politics" (Oxford UP, 2020)

March 11, 2020

Upending American Politics

Theda Skocpol
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

Since 2008, the Tea Party and the Resistance have caused some major shake-ups for the Republican and Democratic parties. The changes fall outside the …

Jodie Jackson, “You Are What You Read: Why Changing Your Media Diet Can Change The World” (Unbound, 2019)

January 27, 2020

You Are What You Read

Jodie Jackson
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

The old mantra “if it bleeds it leads” is alive and well in today’s media landscape. In fact, social media and up-to-the-second news have made it easi…

David Frum, "Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic" (Harper, 2018)

January 6, 2020


David Frum
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

Around the McCourtney Institute, we like to say that we’re “partisans for democracy.” We can think of few people who better embody that notion today t…

Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, "Banned: Immigration Enforcement in the Time of Trump" (NYU Press, 2019)

December 30, 2019


Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

Immigration is one of the most complex issues of our time in the United States and around the world. Enforcing immigration law in the U.S. involves a …

Astra Taylor, "Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone" (Metropolitan, 2019)

December 23, 2019

Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone

Astra Taylor
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

What is democracy? Astra Taylor grapples with this question in a documentary of the same name and a forthcoming book. We talk with her this week about…

Timothy J. Shaffer, "A Crisis of Civility? Political Discourse and its Discontents" (Routledge, 2019)

December 16, 2019

A Crisis of Civility?

Timothy J. Shaffer
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

There are a lot of calls these days to “revive civility” in politics. While there are plenty of examples of uncivil behavior, there’s far less agreeme…

R. Muirhead and N. L. Rosenblum, "A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy" (Princeton UP, 2019)

December 9, 2019

A Lot of People Are Saying

Russell Muirhead and Nancy L. Rosenblum
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

From Pizzagate to Jeffrey Epstein, conspiracies seem to be more prominent than ever in American political discourse. What was once confined to the pag…

Srdja Popovic, "Blueprint for Revolution" (Spiegel and Grau, 2015)

December 2, 2019

Blueprint for Revolution

Srdja Popovic
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

20 years ago, Srdja Popovic was part of a revolution — literally. He was a founding member of the Otpor! movement that ousted Serbia Slobodan Milsovic…

Patricia Roberts-Miller, "Demagoguery and Democracy" (The Experiment, 2017)

November 25, 2019

Demagoguery and Democracy

Patricia Roberts-Miller
Hosted by Jenna Spinelle

When you think of the word “demagogue,” what comes to mind? Probably someone like Hitler or another bombastic leader, right? Patricia Roberts-Miller i…